Declaration of Catch for Generic Exception
Weakness ID: 396 (Weakness Base)Status: Draft
+ Description

Description Summary

Catching overly broad exceptions promotes complex error handling code that is more likely to contain security vulnerabilities.

Extended Description

Multiple catch blocks can get ugly and repetitive, but "condensing" catch blocks by catching a high-level class like Exception can obscure exceptions that deserve special treatment or that should not be caught at this point in the program. Catching an overly broad exception essentially defeats the purpose of Java's typed exceptions, and can become particularly dangerous if the program grows and begins to throw new types of exceptions. The new exception types will not receive any attention.

+ Time of Introduction
  • Architecture and Design
  • Implementation
+ Applicable Platforms





+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

The following code excerpt handles three types of exceptions in an identical fashion.

(Good Code)
Example Language: Java 
try {
catch (IOException e) {
logger.error("doExchange failed", e);
catch (InvocationTargetException e) {

logger.error("doExchange failed", e);
catch (SQLException e) {

logger.error("doExchange failed", e);

At first blush, it may seem preferable to deal with these exceptions in a single catch block, as follows:

(Bad Code)
try {
catch (Exception e) {
logger.error("doExchange failed", e);

However, if doExchange() is modified to throw a new type of exception that should be handled in some different kind of way, the broad catch block will prevent the compiler from pointing out the situation. Further, the new catch block will now also handle exceptions derived from RuntimeException such as ClassCastException, and NullPointerException, which is not the programmer's intent.

+ Relationships
NatureTypeIDNameView(s) this relationship pertains toView(s)
ChildOfWeakness ClassWeakness Class221Information Loss or Omission
Research Concepts1000
ChildOfCategoryCategory388Error Handling
Seven Pernicious Kingdoms (primary)700
ChildOfCategoryCategory389Error Conditions, Return Values, Status Codes
Development Concepts (primary)699
ChildOfWeakness ClassWeakness Class705Incorrect Control Flow Scoping
Research Concepts (primary)1000
ChildOfWeakness ClassWeakness Class755Improper Handling of Exceptional Conditions
Research Concepts1000
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
7 Pernicious KingdomsOverly-Broad Catch Block
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganizationSource
7 Pernicious KingdomsExternally Mined
Modification DateModifierOrganizationSource
2008-07-01Eric DalciCigitalExternal
updated Time of Introduction
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Applicable Platforms, Relationships, Other Notes, Taxonomy Mappings
2008-09-24CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
Removed C from Applicable Platforms
2008-10-14CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Applicable Platforms
2009-03-10CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Relationships
2009-05-27CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Demonstrative Examples
2009-10-29CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Description, Other Notes
Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
2008-04-11Overly-Broad Catch Block