Limited Black Friday Offer:
Security for everyone

Missing / Weak Encryption

Encryption is the process of taking data, like a user password or email, and converting it into an unreadable format — called "ciphertext." This method helps protect the confidentiality of digital data stored in an environment or transmitted through a network.

In case the recorded data is stored without encryption, all vulnerabilities on the application or systems that will result in data access endanger the confidentiality of the data. In order to minimize the risks in the event of a possible data breach, critical data should be encrypted. Moreover, with encryption, it is prevented from seeing the critical data (user password information) for the people who access the data within the company. 

Since access to the stored data can only occur with other vulnerabilities, it is challenging to detect with an automatic scan whether these data are encrypted or not. Therefore, it is necessary to take white-box penetration tests service or check it yourself to ensure that the stored data is stored correctly.

Anyone who accesses the traffic between your services and the users can view the data transmitted over the network. Network traffic of your users may pass into the hands of third parties due to reasons such as connecting to the Internet through unsafe networks, some types of malware, man-in-the-middle attacks. If you do not maintain secure communication between your services and your users, this situation will result in user data being compromised.

It should be ensured that your services communicate over a secure protocol by using strong algorithms. Protocols that support encryption should be preferred, and international standards should be considered when choosing encryption or hashing algorithms.

  • Using encryption for stored and streaming data is also a rule that must be followed to fulfill numerous regulations.
  • For data encryption, the following topics should be taken into consideration (precedence of the case might change to vulnerability state and application's specifications):
  • Within your services, especially critical data, should be stored or transmitted encrypted in accordance with cryptographic standards
  • Only secure protocols should be used. Protocols that support encryption but are not configured correctly can also create security weaknesses.
  • It should be ensured that the data is managed correctly during the encryption process. For example, critical data should never be kept as plain text in systems used for monitoring and logging.

More About Encryption

Encryption algorithms can be broadly classified into two types: symmetric and asymmetric encryption, each serving different needs and security requirements.

Symmetric Encryption

Symmetric encryption, also known as private key encryption, involves the use of the same key for both the encryption and decryption processes. Algorithms under this category, such as Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), Data Encryption Standard (DES), and Blowfish, are highly efficient for processing large amounts of data. Despite their speed and efficiency, symmetric encryption suffers from key distribution issues. Since both parties must know the key to communicate securely, a secure method to exchange this key is necessary, often complicating the process.

Asymmetric Encryption

Asymmetric encryption, or public key encryption, solves this key exchange problem by using two different keys: one public, shared with anyone, and one private, kept secret by the user. The RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman) encryption algorithm is a widely used example of asymmetric encryption. In this methodology, a message encrypted with the public key can only be decrypted using the corresponding private key, ensuring security during transmission. Although it provides a higher level of security than symmetric encryption, asymmetric encryption involves longer computational times making it less efficient for large data sets.


Hashing is a fundamental process used in various domains. It involves transforming data into a fixed-size value, commonly known as a hash, using a specific algorithm. This technique offers benefits such as data integrity, security, and efficient retrieval. By optimizing data storage and retrieval, hashing plays a crucial role in many applications, including data structures, cryptography, and database systems.


Encoding is a process that changes original data into a format that can be used for various purposes such as secure transmission or storage. Unlike encryption and hashing, encoding is designed to protect the integrity of the data rather than its confidentiality. Data is encoded using an algorithm that can easily be reversed when the data needs to be read (decoded). Common encoding schemes include Base64, ASCII, and Unicode.

While encoding secures the data against corruption during transmission or storage, it does not provide strong protection against malicious attacks. Unlike encryption and hashing, encoded data can be easily decoded using the same algorithm that encoded it. Therefore, encoding should not be used as a standalone method for securing sensitive information, but rather in conjunction with encryption and hashing functions.

Data encoding is essential in many areas of IT, including web development, programming, and database management. For instance, URL encoding is a method used to convert a string into a valid URL format, ensuring that the URL is correctly processed by web servers and browsers.


Impact of Weak Cryptography

Weak or flawed cryptographic implementations can have severe consequences for data security. When encryption algorithms are weak, they can be vulnerable to various attacks, leading to data breaches. For instance, cybercriminals can conduct brute-force attacks to guess the encryption key in a relatively short time.

Insufficient encryption could also expose systems to known-plaintext attacks, where an attacker who has access to both the plaintext (original) and its encrypted version (ciphertext) can reverse-engineer the key. Once the encryption key is exposed, an attacker can decrypt all data encoded with that key, potentially gaining unauthorized access to sensitive information.

Furthermore, weak hashing functions can be susceptible to collision attacks, where two different inputs produce the same output hash. This could allow a malicious actor to substitute a legitimate data with a malicious one, leading to data integrity issues.

Weak cryptography not only threatens data confidentiality and integrity but also can lead to non-compliance with industry regulations and standards, resulting in penalties and damage to the organization's reputation. Therefore, selecting strong, proven encryption and hashing algorithms, and applying them correctly, is essential for maintaining the security and integrity of sensitive data.

It's essential to remember that while encoding may provide a certain level of security, it cannot replace the robust security measures offered by proper encryption and hashing. Therefore, a comprehensive approach that combines encoding, encryption, and strong hashing functions is advised to ensure the maximum security of sensitive data.

Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) Regarding Missing/Weak Cryptographic Functions

In the world of software and computer systems, there are common mistakes or weak spots that developers might accidentally introduce. These mistakes can make the software or system vulnerable to attacks or failures.

Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE)  is a big list of all these common mistakes, so that developers could check against it and avoid making the same errors.

CWE-257: Storing Passwords in a Recoverable Format

This common weakness enumeration highlights the security risk associated with storing passwords in a recoverable format. Storing passwords in a way that allows them to be easily recovered or decrypted can compromise the confidentiality and integrity of user accounts. It is crucial for developers and system administrators to implement proper password storage techniques, such as using strong encryption algorithms and secure hashing methods, to enhance the protection of sensitive user information.

CWE-261: Weak Encoding for Password

This Common Weakness Enumeration refers to the improper or weak encoding of passwords. Encoding, while important for data processing and transmission, is not designed to provide robust security, as encoded data can often be easily reversed or decoded. When used in place of proper encryption or hashing for password protection, weak encoding can lead to significant security vulnerabilities. Intruders with access to the weakly encoded password data can decode it, gaining unauthorized access to user accounts. Therefore, developers must ensure they implement strong encryption or hashing algorithms for password protection, moving beyond relying solely on encoding practices. This approach can significantly enhance the security of the system and protect user data from potential breaches.

CWE-311: Missing Encryption of Sensitive Data

This Common Weakness Enumeration refers to the absence of encryption for sensitive data. Encryption is a critical security control that transforms data into a format that can't be easily understood without a decryption key. When sensitive data remains unencrypted, it is vulnerable to interception or unauthorized access, leading potentially to data breaches. This can result in the exposure of confidential information, such as personal identification details, credit card numbers, or other financial data. The absence of encryption can also weaken the system's overall security posture, enabling malicious entities to modify the data for fraudulent activities. Therefore, developers should ensure they apply strong encryption methods to protect sensitive data during both storage and transmission. Implementing robust encryption can significantly enhance the security of the system and safeguard user data from potential breaches.

CWE-321: Use of Hard-coded Cryptographic Key

This Common Weakness Enumeration highlights the use of hard-coded cryptographic keys for encryption or decryption purposes. Hard-coding refers to embedding sensitive information, such as passwords or keys, directly into the source code. This practice poses a significant security risk because if an attacker gains access to the source code, they can easily recover the hardcoded key and decrypt any encrypted data. Developers must avoid hard-coding cryptographic keys and instead use secure key management practices, such as storing keys in a separate location or using key generation algorithms. This helps to prevent unauthorized access and reduces the risk of data breaches. Additionally, developers should regularly rotate cryptographic keys to minimize the impact if a key is compromised.

CWE-323: Reusing a Nonce, Key Pair in Encryption

Another common weakness is the reuse of a nonce (number used once) or key pair in encryption. A nonce is a cryptographic value used only once during data encryption to prevent replay attacks. When a nonce or key pair is reused, an attacker can potentially decrypt previously encrypted data and gain unauthorized access. Developers must ensure that nonces are unique for each encryption session and that key pairs are not reused. This can be achieved by using random and unpredictable values for nonces and generating new key pairs for each encryption session.

CWE-325: Missing Cryptographic Step

This Common Weakness Enumeration refers to the absence of a necessary cryptographic step in an encryption or decryption process. For example, if a developer forgets to apply a required hashing function before encryption, it can weaken the overall security of the system. It is crucial for developers to understand and implement all necessary cryptographic steps, such as hashing, encoding, and salting, to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of data. Failure to do so can leave the system vulnerable to attacks.

CWE-326: Inadequate Encryption Strength

Developers must carefully consider the strength of their chosen cryptographic algorithms and key lengths. Using weak or outdated encryption methods can make it easier for attackers to break the encryption and access sensitive data. It is essential to regularly review and update the encryption methods used in a system to ensure they meet current industry standards.

CWE-327: Use of a Broken or Risky Cryptographic Algorithm

In addition to using strong encryption methods, developers must also be aware of any known vulnerabilities or weaknesses in the cryptographic algorithms they choose. Using a broken or risky algorithm can make it easier for attackers to exploit the system and gain access to sensitive data. It is crucial for developers to stay informed about any updates or advisories related to cryptographic algorithms and make necessary changes to maintain the security of the system.

CWE-328: Use of Weak Hashing Algorithm

Hashing is a crucial step in data protection, as it converts plain text into a unique string of characters. However, using a weak hashing algorithm can make it easier for attackers to reverse engineer the hash and access sensitive data. Developers must carefully choose and implement strong hashing algorithms, such as SHA-256 or bcrypt, to ensure the integrity of their data.

CWE-347: Improper Verification of Cryptographic Signature

Cryptographic signatures are used to verify the authenticity and integrity of data. However, if these signatures are not properly verified, it can lead to vulnerabilities in the system. It is essential for developers to follow industry best practices for verifying cryptographic signatures, such as checking the signature directly against a trusted source or using a secure verification method.

CWE-353: Missing Support for Integrity Check

Integrity checks are necessary to ensure that data has not been tampered with or modified. If a system lacks support for integrity checks, it can leave the data vulnerable to unauthorized modifications. Developers must ensure that their systems have proper integrity check mechanisms in place, such as checksums or digital signatures, to maintain the security and trustworthiness of their data.

CWE-523: Unprotected Transport of Credentials

During authentication, sensitive data such as passwords or encryption keys are transmitted over a network. If these credentials are not protected during transportation, it can be intercepted by attackers and used to gain unauthorized access to the system. Developers must implement secure transport protocols, such as HTTPS or SSH, to encrypt and protect sensitive data during transmission.

CWE-1240: Use of a Cryptographic Primitive with a Risky Implementation

Cryptographic primitives are the basic building blocks for implementing secure cryptographic functions. However, if these primitives are implemented incorrectly or using weak algorithms, it can render the entire system vulnerable to attacks. Developers must carefully choose and implement reputable cryptographic libraries and algorithms that have been thoroughly tested and proven to be secure.

CWE-1241: Use of Predictable Algorithm in Random Number Generator

Random number generators (RNGs) are essential for generating encryption keys, session tokens, and other critical values used in secure systems. However, if an RNG uses a predictable algorithm or a weak seed value, it can lead to easily guessable values and ultimately compromise the security of the system.

CWE-1279: Cryptographic Operations are run Before Supporting Units are Ready

Cryptographic operations must be run in a specific order to ensure their effectiveness. For example, encryption should only be done after proper key generation and initialization is completed. If cryptographic functions are executed before all supporting units are ready, it can lead to weak or incomplete protection of sensitive data. Developers must carefully design and implement the order of cryptographic operations to ensure all necessary components are in place before execution.

CWE-1394: Use of Default Cryptographic Key

Default cryptographic keys are often used for convenience and ease of implementation, but they pose a significant security risk. These keys are typically publicly known or easily guessable, making them susceptible to brute force attacks and exposing sensitive data. Developers should always generate unique and secure cryptographic keys for each system implementation to prevent unauthorized access.

The Top 11 Missing or Weak Encryption Scanning Tools

The Top 11 missing or weak encryption scanning tools that is used by our members: