Exposed Dangerous Method or Function
Weakness ID: 749 (Weakness Base)Status: Incomplete
+ Description

Description Summary

The software provides an Applications Programming Interface (API) or similar interface for interaction with external actors, but the interface includes a dangerous method or function that is not properly restricted.

Extended Description

This weakness can lead to a wide variety of resultant weaknesses, depending on the behavior of the exposed method. It can apply to any number of technologies and approaches, such as ActiveX controls, Java functions, IOCTLs, and so on.

The exposure can occur in a few different ways:

1) The function/method was never intended to be exposed to outside actors.

2) The function/method was only intended to be accessible to a limited set of actors, such as Internet-based access from a single web site.

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



+ Common Consequences

Technical Impact: Gain privileges

Exposing critical functionality essentially provides an attacker with the privilege level of the exposed functionality. This could result in the modification or exposure of sensitive data or possibly even execution of arbitrary code.

+ Likelihood of Exploit

Low to Medium

+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

In the following Java example the method removeDatabase will delete the database with the name specified in the input parameter.

(Bad Code)
Example Language: Java 
public void removeDatabase(String databaseName) {
try {
Statement stmt = conn.createStatement();
stmt.execute("DROP DATABASE " + tableName);

} catch (SQLException ex) {...}

The method in this example is declared public and therefore is exposed to any class in the application. Deleting a database should be considered a critical operation within an application and access to this potentially dangerous method should be restricted. Within Java this can be accomplished simply by declaring the method private thereby exposing it only to the enclosing class as in the following example.

(Good Code)
Example Language: Java 
private void removeDatabase(String databaseName) {
try {
Statement stmt = conn.createStatement();
stmt.execute("DROP DATABASE " + tableName);

} catch (SQLException ex) {...}
+ Observed Examples
CVE-2007-6382arbitrary Java code execution via exposed method
CVE-2007-1112security tool ActiveX control allows download or upload of files
+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Architecture and Design

If you must expose a method, make sure to perform input validation on all arguments, limit access to authorized parties, and protect against all possible vulnerabilities.

Phases: Architecture and Design; Implementation

Strategy: Identify and Reduce Attack Surface

Identify all exposed functionality. Explicitly list all functionality that must be exposed to some user or set of users. Identify which functionality may be:

  • accessible to all users

  • restricted to a small set of privileged users

  • prevented from being directly accessible at all

Ensure that the implemented code follows these expectations. This includes setting the appropriate access modifiers where applicable (public, private, protected, etc.) or not marking ActiveX controls safe-for-scripting.

+ Weakness Ordinalities
(where the weakness exists independent of other weaknesses)
+ Relationships
NatureTypeIDNameView(s) this relationship pertains toView(s)
ChildOfWeakness ClassWeakness Class485Insufficient Encapsulation
Development Concepts (primary)699
Research Concepts (primary)1000
ChildOfWeakness ClassWeakness Class691Insufficient Control Flow Management
Research Concepts1000
ChildOfCategoryCategory8082010 Top 25 - Weaknesses On the Cusp
Weaknesses in the 2010 CWE/SANS Top 25 Most Dangerous Programming Errors (primary)800
ParentOfWeakness BaseWeakness Base618Exposed Unsafe ActiveX Method
Research Concepts (primary)1000
ParentOfWeakness VariantWeakness Variant782Exposed IOCTL with Insufficient Access Control
Development Concepts (primary)699
Research Concepts (primary)1000
+ Research Gaps

Under-reported and under-studied. This weakness could appear in any technology, language, or framework that allows the programmer to provide a functional interface to external parties, but it is not heavily reported. In 2007, CVE began showing a notable increase in reports of exposed method vulnerabilities in ActiveX applications, as well as IOCTL access to OS-level resources. These weaknesses have been documented for Java applications in various secure programming sources, but there are few reports in CVE, which suggests limited awareness in most parts of the vulnerability research community.

+ Related Attack Patterns
CAPEC-IDAttack Pattern Name
(CAPEC Version: 1.4)
36Using Unpublished Web Service APIs
113API Abuse/Misuse
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganizationSource
2008-11-24Internal CWE Team
Modification DateModifierOrganizationSource
2009-01-12CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Name
2009-07-27CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Relationships
2009-12-28CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Applicable Platforms, Likelihood of Exploit
Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
2009-01-12Exposed Insecure Method or Function