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When it comes to all things code development, there are many abbreviations you need to become privy to. Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) should be one of the first.
As all engineers know, there are so many unknown defects and bugs that can arise at any time, so this industry-wide existing list of errors that you can reference to ensure the security of your code at all times is a game-changer and one of the most helpful tools available to all engineers, free of charge.
In this article, we’ll be discussing all things CWE; what it is, examples of CWE, as well as how Codiga can proactively help you identify CWE.
What is CWE?
Let's get started with the basics, what exactly is CWE and how does it pertain to software development? cwe.mitre.org defines CWE as "Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE)" is a community-developed list of common software and hardware weakness types that have security ramifications”.
“Weaknesses” as referred to in the abbreviation are flaws, faults, bugs, or other known errors in software or hardware implementation, code, or design. If these defects are left as they are and not properly addressed, it can put your software at greater risk of being hacked or attacked.
CWE has many purposies, but ultimately it’s main goal is to stop vulnerabilities from occurring at the earliest stage possible by educating engineering teams how to watch out for and eliminate the most common mistakes being made that is hindering the safety of their project.
“The CWE List and associated classification taxonomy serve as a language that can be used to identify and describe these weaknesses in terms of CWEs”.
This means that the list is not specific to any one language or IDE and therefore makes it easy for any team to utilize, no matter what their preferences are. The CWE List includes both software and hardware weakness types.
First released back in 2006, the list focused on software weaknesses and allowed organizations to freely see the software rpdicts they use and may acquire are above board and won't cause any issues. Since then, the list has been refined and reorganized to still include weaknesses and their classification trees(CWEs) while also adding new content such as CWEs for mobile applications.
Since the list's inauguration in 2006, the need for hardware security has intensified, therefore support for hardware weaknesses was added to the CWE List in 2020.
The CWE has many benefits as it can help developers describe and discuss software and hardware weaknesses in a common language, look for weaknesses in existing software and hardware products, evaluate coverage of tools targeting these weaknesses, and ultimately prevent software and hardware vulnerabilities prior to deployment.
Example of CWE
As we said, compilation of the annual list is a community initiative and input from a lot of parties is evaluated. For that reason, the list is subject to a lot og year over year change, so knowing what to look out for will vary. Let's look at the most common CWE identified on the 2022 list; Out-of-bounds Write. This means that the software writes data past the end, or before the beginning, of the intended buffer. CWE.og goes on to explain that “typically, this can result in corruption of data, a crash, or code execution. The software may modify an index or perform pointer arithmetic that references a memory location that is outside of the boundaries of the buffer. A subsequent write operation then produces undefined or unexpected results”.
It is an easy error to occur, and one that could make it past the manual code review phase, but this error can be dangerous as it is often easy to find, exploit, and can allow 3rd parties to completely take over a system, potentially steal data, or even prevent an application from working altogether.
How To Identify CWE in Your Code with Codiga
The good news is that once you are aware of the top bugs and violations that may be facing your project, you can take the steps to get ahead of them. The key to getting ahead of all issues is having the right code review processes in place at all times throughout the software development process. Manual reviews are paramount to success, but incorporating some automated code reviews into this princess can help you get ahead of more issues.
With Codiga, you can do real-time code reviews, follow code quality metrics, and ensure that your development team stays on track. Codiga’s Code Review tool provides instant feedback directly in your working environment. When using Code Review, Codiga’s Automated Code Review algorithm will detect defective code and highlight potential issues prior to you submitting it for a standard manual review. This can save a team countless hours of time and stress and help you get on top of any CWE level issues ahead of time.
Additionally, our Coding Assistant tool and Smart Code Snippets is another way to prevent bugs and errors in the long run. In their working life, most engineers use code snippets. These reusable blocks of code can form the basis of a task and mitigate the need for a coder to write repetitive code that has already been created by other developers. Oftentimes, these code snippets are sourced online. This can not only be time-consuming, but these code snippets can also contain defects themselves, which can lead to more serious bugs later in the project if not detected earlier.
That's why Codiga developed Smart Code Snippets. Smart Code Snippets allows you to find, add, store and use code snippets, without having to leave your IDE! This tool is a game-changer for productivity because it gives users access to a growing library of Smart Code Snippets that have been added and vetted by thousands of other developers who use our platform. Smart Code Snippets can be found within our Coding Assistant tool. You can download the Codiga plugin for VS Code, Jetbrains, or Chrome to bring all of the functionality to your chosen IDE. Once you have installed the plugin, you can search for Smart Code Snippets on the Codiga Hub.
This search engine houses all code snippets that have been added by our network, and allows you to favor code snippets so that they populate in your IDE when needed. You can also add your own Smart Code Snippet that can be shared with the entire Codiga platform, privately or with a specified team. The team sharing option is also an ideal way to get ahead of bugs, as it allows teams to easily share their coding patterns with one another which in turn saves time doing repetitive work and therefore minimizes the risk of bugs occurring.