Use of hard-coded credentials (password)

If software contains hard-coded credentials for authentication, the software is highly vulnerable to attacks because a malicious user has the opportunity to extract this information from the executable file.

The CS.HCC.PWD checker detects the use of hard-coded passwords as parameters for authentication functions. The CS.HCC.PWD checker also detects cases where software compares user credentials with internal hard-coded values in back-end applications. Hard-coded credentials may not only be coded as credentials used to authenticate a function; they may also be used as a hard-coded check. If a username or a password of an authentication function is compared to a hard-coded string, this is also a vulnerability. By default, this checker considers the functions from popular software libraries, but can also be configured to detect custom authentication functions.

Vulnerability and risk

The use of hard-coded credentials makes it possible for an attacker to extract the credentials from the executable file and bypass the authentication. Hard-coded credentials create a significant risk that may be difficult to detect and to fix.

Mitigation and prevention

For outbound authentication: store passwords, keys, and other credentials outside of the code in a strongly-protected, encrypted configuration file or database that is protected from access by all outsiders, including other local users on the same system. For inbound authentication: Rather than hard-code a default username and password, key, or other authentication credentials for first time logins, implement a "first login" mode that requires the user to enter a unique strong password or key.

Vulnerable code example 1

1   namespace HCC_PWD
2   {
3       class Program
4       {
5           int VerifyAdminPassword(String pwd)
6           {
7               if (pwd.Equals("pwd@123"))
8               {
9                   Console.WriteLine("Entering Diagnostic Mode...");
10                  return (1);
11              }
12              Console.WriteLine("Incorrect pwd");
13              return (0);
14          }
15  	}
16  }

In this example, Klocwork reports a defect at line 7, indicating the Use of a hardcoded password through the call to function 'System.String.Equals'.

Fixed code example 1

1   namespace Data
2   {
3       public class Database
4       {
5           public static int VerifyPwd(string pwd)
6           {
7               //verify pwd at database
8               return 1;
9           }
10      }
11  }
13  namespace HCC_PWD
14  {
15      class Program
16      {
17          int VerifyAdminUser(String pwd)
18          {
19             return Data.Database.VerifyPwd(pwd);
20          }
21  	}
22  }

In this fixed example, Klocwork no longer reports a defect.

Related checkers

Security training

Application security training materials provided by Secure Code Warrior.