01 Mar, 2023

Hard-coded Cryptographic Keys

Vulnerability Assessment as a Service (VAaaS)

Tests systems and applications for vulnerabilities to address weaknesses.

Hard-coded cryptographic keys refer to encryption keys that are embedded directly into a software application or device. These keys are often used to secure sensitive information or communications, but their hard-coded nature makes them vulnerable to exploitation by attackers who can easily access and use them to decrypt data.

Because hard-coded keys are static and unchanging, they are easy targets for attackers who can use them to bypass security measures and gain unauthorized access to sensitive data. Developers and security professionals should avoid the use of hard-coded keys whenever possible and instead opt for dynamic, regularly changing encryption keys that are more secure and resistant to attacks.

Example of vulnerable code on different programming languages:


in Java:

				
					SecretKeySpec keySpec = new SecretKeySpec("mySecretKey".getBytes(), "AES");
Cipher cipher = Cipher.getInstance("AES/CBC/PKCS5Padding");
cipher.init(Cipher.ENCRYPT_MODE, keySpec);

				
			


In this Java code, the hard-coded key “mySecretKey” is used to initialize the encryption cipher. This key is easily accessible and can be used to decrypt the encrypted data.

• in Python:

				
					from Crypto.Cipher import AES

key = 'mySecretKey'
cipher = AES.new(key, AES.MODE_CBC)

				
			


In this Python code, the hard-coded key “mySecretKey” is used to initialize the encryption cipher. Like the Java example, this key is easily accessible and can be used to decrypt the encrypted data.

• in C#:

				
					Aes aes = Aes.Create();
aes.Mode = CipherMode.CBC;
aes.Padding = PaddingMode.PKCS7;
aes.KeySize = 128;
aes.Key = Encoding.ASCII.GetBytes("mySecretKey");
aes.IV = Encoding.ASCII.GetBytes("1234567890123456");

				
			


In this C# code, the hard-coded key “mySecretKey” is used to set the encryption key for the AES cipher. This key is easily accessible and can be used to decrypt the encrypted data.

Examples of exploitation Hard-coded Cryptographic Keys

Stealing data:

An attacker who gains access to an application or device that uses hard-coded keys can easily use those keys to decrypt any sensitive data that is stored or transmitted using the application or device. For example, if a mobile app uses a hard-coded encryption key to protect user data, an attacker who reverse-engineers the app can extract the key and use it to steal the user’s personal information.

Man-in-the-middle attacks:

If an attacker can intercept the communication between two parties that use hard-coded keys to encrypt their messages, the attacker can easily decrypt the messages and view their contents. This is known as a man-in-the-middle attack. For example, if an IoT device uses a hard-coded key to communicate with a cloud server, an attacker who intercepts the communication can use the key to view the data being transmitted.

Malicious software:

An attacker who gains access to a software application that uses hard-coded keys can modify the application to perform malicious activities. For example, an attacker who reverse-engineers a banking app and extracts the hard-coded encryption key can modify the app to steal user login credentials or transfer funds to their own account.

Privilege escalation techniques for Hard-coded Cryptographic Keys

Reverse engineering:

An attacker may attempt to reverse engineer the software application or device in order to extract the hard-coded keys. This involves analyzing the code and binaries of the application or device to find where the keys are stored and how they are used. Once the attacker has the keys, they can use them to decrypt sensitive data or gain elevated privileges.

Memory analysis:

An attacker may use memory analysis tools to extract the hard-coded keys from the running process of a software application. This involves analyzing the contents of the application’s memory to find where the keys are stored. Once the attacker has the keys, they can use them to decrypt sensitive data or gain elevated privileges.

Binary patching:

An attacker may modify the binary code of a software application in order to extract the hard-coded keys. This involves modifying the code of the application to add logging or other debugging features that will output the keys when the application is run. Once the attacker has the keys, they can use them to decrypt sensitive data or gain elevated privileges.

General methodology and checklist for Hard-coded Cryptographic Keys

Methodology:

  1. Code review: Conduct a manual review of the source code of the software application or device to identify any instances where encryption or decryption keys are hard-coded. This may involve reviewing code snippets that initialize encryption/decryption objects or searching for plaintext strings that look like encryption keys.

  2. Static analysis: Use automated static analysis tools to scan the source code of the software application or device to identify potential hard-coded keys. Static analysis tools can identify common patterns or structures that are indicative of hard-coded keys and flag them for further review.

  3. Dynamic analysis: Use automated dynamic analysis tools to run the software application or device and monitor its behavior to identify potential hard-coded keys. Dynamic analysis tools can monitor the application’s memory and file system to identify where keys are stored and how they are used.

  4. Fuzz testing: Use automated fuzz testing tools to test the software application or device for vulnerabilities related to hard-coded keys. Fuzz testing involves sending large amounts of random data to the application or device to identify how it handles unexpected input. This can help identify vulnerabilities related to hard-coded keys, such as buffer overflows or stack overflows.

  5. Penetration testing: Conduct manual penetration testing of the software application or device to identify potential vulnerabilities related to hard-coded keys. This may involve attempting to extract hard-coded keys through reverse engineering, binary patching, or other techniques.

Checklist:

  1. Review the source code of the software application or device to identify any instances where encryption or decryption keys are hard-coded. Look for code snippets that initialize encryption/decryption objects or plaintext strings that look like encryption keys.

  2. Use automated static analysis tools to scan the source code of the software application or device to identify potential hard-coded keys. Static analysis tools can identify common patterns or structures that are indicative of hard-coded keys and flag them for further review.

  3. Use automated dynamic analysis tools to run the software application or device and monitor its behavior to identify potential hard-coded keys. Dynamic analysis tools can monitor the application’s memory and file system to identify where keys are stored and how they are used.

  4.  Test the software application or device for buffer overflows or stack overflows that could be exploited to extract hard-coded keys.

  5. Conduct manual penetration testing of the software application or device to identify potential vulnerabilities related to hard-coded keys. Attempt to extract hard-coded keys through reverse engineering, binary patching, or other techniques.

  6. Check whether encryption keys are being rotated regularly to minimize the impact of a potential compromise.

  7. Check whether encryption keys are being stored securely, such as using a key management system or hardware security module.

  8. Verify that the encryption algorithm being used is strong and appropriate for the application or device being developed.

Tools set for exploiting Hard-coded Cryptographic Keys

Manual Tools:

  1. Reverse engineering tools (e.g., IDA Pro, Binary Ninja): These tools allow you to reverse engineer compiled code to identify potential hard-coded cryptographic keys.

  2. Debuggers (e.g., gdb, OllyDbg): Debuggers allow you to step through the execution of software code and monitor the contents of memory to identify where hard-coded keys may be stored.

  3. Binary patching tools (e.g., Radare2, HxD): Binary patching tools allow you to modify the compiled code of a software application or device to remove hard-coded keys or insert your own keys for testing purposes.

  4. Penetration testing frameworks (e.g., Metasploit, Burp Suite): These frameworks provide a wide range of tools for conducting manual penetration testing, including tools for identifying and exploiting hard-coded cryptographic keys.

  5. Browser plugins (e.g., Tamper Data, Burp Suite Proxy): Browser plugins can be used to intercept and modify the traffic between a web application and a server to identify hard-coded cryptographic keys being transmitted over the network.

Automated Tools:

  1. Static analysis tools (e.g., Fortify, Checkmarx): Static analysis tools scan the source code of a software application or device to identify potential hard-coded cryptographic keys.

  2. Dynamic analysis tools (e.g., Fiddler, Wireshark): Dynamic analysis tools monitor the behavior of a software application or device at runtime to identify potential hard-coded cryptographic keys being used.

  3. Fuzz testing tools (e.g., AFL, Peach Fuzzer): Fuzz testing tools send random or mutated data to a software application or device to identify vulnerabilities related to hard-coded cryptographic keys.

  4. Vulnerability scanners (e.g., Nessus, OpenVAS): Vulnerability scanners can identify potential vulnerabilities related to hard-coded cryptographic keys by scanning a network or software application for known vulnerabilities.

  5. Memory analysis tools (e.g., Volatility, Rekall): Memory analysis tools can be used to analyze the contents of a software application or device’s memory to identify hard-coded cryptographic keys that may be stored there.

  6. Automated reverse engineering tools (e.g., Ghidra, Binwalk): These tools can be used to automatically reverse engineer compiled code to identify potential hard-coded cryptographic keys.

  7. Cryptographic analysis tools (e.g., Hashcat, John the Ripper): These tools can be used to crack encrypted data and identify the cryptographic keys used to encrypt it.

  8. Key management systems (e.g., Hashicorp Vault, AWS Key Management Service): These tools provide a secure way to manage cryptographic keys, reducing the risk of hard-coded keys being used.

  9. Hardware security modules (e.g., YubiHSM, Thales nShield): Hardware security modules provide a hardware-based secure storage for cryptographic keys, reducing the risk of hard-coded keys being used.

  10. Automated vulnerability assessment tools (e.g., Qualys, Rapid7): These tools can automatically scan a network or software application for potential vulnerabilities related to hard-coded cryptographic keys.

Average CVSS score of stack Hard-coded Cryptographic Keys

The Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) provides a framework for rating the severity of security vulnerabilities on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the most severe. The average CVSS score for vulnerabilities related to hard-coded cryptographic keys can vary widely depending on the specific circumstances and context of the vulnerability.

That being said, vulnerabilities related to hard-coded cryptographic keys are typically considered to be high or critical severity. This is because hard-coded keys can be easily discovered and exploited by attackers, allowing them to access sensitive data or systems.

In some cases, the CVSS score may be lower if the hard-coded key is only used for non-critical functions or if other security controls are in place to mitigate the risk. However, in general, it is important to address any vulnerabilities related to hard-coded cryptographic keys as quickly as possible to prevent potential attacks.

The Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE)

• CWE-321: Use of Hard-coded Cryptographic Key: This weakness refers to the use of hard-coded cryptographic keys in software or devices, which can be easily discovered and exploited by attackers.

• CWE-798: Use of Hard-coded Credentials: This weakness refers to the use of hard-coded credentials, including cryptographic keys, in software or devices, which can be easily discovered and exploited by attackers.

• CWE-259: Use of Hard-coded Password: This weakness refers to the use of hard-coded passwords, including cryptographic keys, in software or devices, which can be easily discovered and exploited by attackers.

• CWE-326: Inadequate Encryption Strength: This weakness refers to the use of weak encryption algorithms or inadequate key lengths, which can make it easier for attackers to crack encrypted data and recover cryptographic keys.

• CWE-327: Use of a Broken or Risky Cryptographic Algorithm: This weakness refers to the use of cryptographic algorithms that are known to be vulnerable to attack or that have known weaknesses, making it easier for attackers to crack encrypted data and recover cryptographic keys.

• CWE-331: Insufficient Entropy: This weakness refers to the use of insufficient or predictable sources of entropy in the generation of cryptographic keys, making it easier for attackers to guess or brute-force the keys.

• CWE-337: Predictable Seed in Pseudo-Random Number Generator (PRNG): This weakness refers to the use of a predictable seed value in a PRNG, making it easier for attackers to predict the sequence of random numbers generated by the PRNG and recover cryptographic keys.

• CWE-338: Use of Cryptographically Weak Pseudo-Random Number Generator (PRNG): This weakness refers to the use of a weak or flawed PRNG algorithm, making it easier for attackers to predict the sequence of random numbers generated by the PRNG and recover cryptographic keys.

• CWE-347: Improper Verification of Cryptographic Signature: This weakness refers to the failure to properly verify the cryptographic signature of data, which can allow attackers to modify the data without detection and recover cryptographic keys.

• CWE-358: Improperly Implemented Security Check for Standard: This weakness refers to the failure to properly implement security checks for industry standards related to cryptography, such as SSL/TLS, making it easier for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities related to hard-coded cryptographic keys.

Top 10 CVES related to Hard-coded Cryptographic Keys

• CVE-2022-45425 – Some Dahua software products have a vulnerability of using of hard-coded cryptographic key. An attacker can obtain the AES crypto key by exploiting this vulnerability.

• CVE-2022-41540 – The web app client of TP-Link AX10v1 V1_211117 uses hard-coded cryptographic keys when communicating with the router. Attackers who are able to intercept the communications between the web client and router through a man-in-the-middle attack can then obtain the sequence key via a brute-force attack, and access sensitive information.

• CVE-2022-35287 – IBM Security Verify Information Queue 10.0.2 contains hard-coded credentials, such as a password or cryptographic key, which it uses for its own inbound authentication, outbound communication to external components, or encryption of internal data. IBM X-Force ID: 230817.

• CVE-2022-34906 – A hard-coded cryptographic key is used in FileWave before 14.6.3 and 14.7.x before 14.7.2. Exploitation could allow an unauthenticated actor to decrypt sensitive information saved in FileWave, and even send crafted requests.

• CVE-2022-34442 – Dell EMC SCG Policy Manager, versions from 5.10 to 5.12, contain(s) a contain a Hard-coded Cryptographic Key vulnerability. An attacker with the knowledge of the hard-coded sensitive information, could potentially exploit this vulnerability to login to the system to gain LDAP user privileges.

• CVE-2022-34441 – Dell EMC SCG Policy Manager, versions from 5.10 to 5.12, contain(s) a contain a Hard-coded Cryptographic Key vulnerability. An attacker with the knowledge of the hard-coded sensitive information, could potentially exploit this vulnerability to login to the system to gain admin privileges.

• CVE-2022-34440 – Dell EMC SCG Policy Manager, versions from 5.10 to 5.12, contain(s) a contain a Hard-coded Cryptographic Key vulnerability. An attacker with the knowledge of the hard-coded sensitive information, could potentially exploit this vulnerability to login to the system to gain admin privileges.

CVE-2022-29830  Use of Hard-coded Cryptographic Key vulnerability in Mitsubishi Electric GX Works3 all versions allows a remote unauthenticated attacker to disclose or tamper with sensitive information. As a result, unauthorized users may obtain information about project files illegally.

• CVE-2022-29829 – Use of Hard-coded Cryptographic Key vulnerability in Mitsubishi Electric GX Works3 all versions allows a remote unauthenticated attacker to disclose sensitive information . As a result, unauthorized users may view or execute programs illegally.

• CVE-2022-29828 – Use of Hard-coded Cryptographic Key vulnerability in Mitsubishi Electric GX Works3 all versions allows a remote unauthenticated attacker to disclose sensitive information. As a result, unauthorized users may view or execute programs illegally.

Hard-coded Cryptographic Keys exploits

  • Heartbleed: A vulnerability in OpenSSL that allowed attackers to read sensitive data from a server’s memory, including cryptographic keys.

  • KRACK: A vulnerability in the WPA2 protocol that allowed attackers to intercept and decrypt Wi-Fi traffic, including traffic encrypted with hard-coded cryptographic keys.

  • DROWN: A vulnerability in SSLv2 that allowed attackers to decrypt encrypted traffic, including traffic encrypted with hard-coded cryptographic keys.

  • FREAK: A vulnerability in SSL/TLS that allowed attackers to intercept and decrypt traffic encrypted with weak export-grade cryptography, including traffic encrypted with hard-coded cryptographic keys.

  • Logjam: A vulnerability in SSL/TLS that allowed attackers to downgrade the encryption used in a TLS connection, making it easier to crack encrypted data and recover cryptographic keys.

  • POODLE: A vulnerability in SSL/TLS that allowed attackers to decrypt traffic encrypted with SSLv3, including traffic encrypted with hard-coded cryptographic keys.

  • ROCA: A vulnerability in the implementation of the RSA key pair generation algorithm used in cryptographic chips, allowing attackers to compute the private key from the public key in some cases.

  • BlueBorne: A vulnerability in Bluetooth implementations that allowed attackers to take control of devices and execute arbitrary code, including devices that use hard-coded cryptographic keys.

  • Cloudbleed: A vulnerability in the Cloudflare CDN that allowed attackers to access sensitive data, including cryptographic keys, from multiple websites.

  • Intel AMT vulnerability: A vulnerability in Intel Active Management Technology (AMT) that allowed attackers to bypass the authentication process and gain remote access to a system, including systems that use hard-coded cryptographic keys for encryption.

Practicing in test for Hard-coded Cryptographic Keys

  1. Identify the target application or system that you want to test for hard-coded cryptographic keys.

  2. Research the application or system to determine what type of encryption is used and where cryptographic keys are stored.

  3. Use automated tools such as the OWASP ZAP or Burp Suite to scan the application or system for vulnerabilities related to hard-coded cryptographic keys.

  4. Use manual testing techniques such as fuzzing, reverse engineering, and code analysis to identify any hard-coded cryptographic keys in the application or system.

  5. Attempt to exploit any vulnerabilities related to hard-coded cryptographic keys that are discovered during testing.

  6. Document any vulnerabilities and provide recommendations for remediation.

  7. Retest the application or system after remediation to verify that the vulnerabilities have been fixed.

  8. Repeat the testing process regularly to ensure that new vulnerabilities related to hard-coded cryptographic keys are not introduced.

For study Hard-coded Cryptographic Keys

The CWE-321: Use of Hard-coded Cryptographic Keys vulnerability page on the Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) website provides a comprehensive description of the vulnerability and its impact.

The OWASP Top Ten Project is a widely recognized resource for web application security, and includes a section on Insecure Cryptographic Storage that covers the use of hard-coded cryptographic keys.

The NIST Computer Security Resource Center provides a wealth of information on cryptographic standards, best practices, and tools.

The Cryptography Engineering book by Bruce Schneier, Niels Ferguson, and Tadayoshi Kohno is a comprehensive guide to the design and implementation of cryptographic systems, and includes a section on key management.

The Cryptography I and II courses on Coursera by Dan Boneh are highly regarded online courses that cover the basics of modern cryptography.

The Cryptopals Crypto Challenges website provides a set of interactive challenges that cover various aspects of modern cryptography, including the use of hard-coded cryptographic keys.

The Black Hat and DEF CON conferences are annual security conferences that include talks and workshops on a wide range of security topics, including cryptography and vulnerability testing.

Books with review of Hard-coded Cryptographic Keys

“Secure Coding in C and C++” by Robert C. Seacord – This book provides guidance on secure coding practices, including avoiding the use of hard-coded cryptographic keys.

“The Basics of Hacking and Penetration Testing” by Patrick Engebretson – This book covers the fundamentals of penetration testing, including identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities related to hard-coded cryptographic keys.

“Gray Hat Hacking: The Ethical Hacker’s Handbook” by Allen Harper, Daniel Regalado, Ryan Linn, and Stephen Sims – This book provides detailed information on ethical hacking techniques, including identifying and exploiting hard-coded cryptographic keys.

“Hacking: The Art of Exploitation” by Jon Erickson – This book provides a comprehensive overview of hacking techniques, including identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities related to hard-coded cryptographic keys.

“Black Hat Python: Python Programming for Hackers and Pentesters” by Justin Seitz – This book provides information on using Python for hacking and penetration testing, including identifying and exploiting hard-coded cryptographic keys.

“The Tangled Web: A Guide to Securing Modern Web Applications” by Michal Zalewski – This book provides information on web application security, including identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities related to hard-coded cryptographic keys.

“Penetration Testing: A Hands-On Introduction to Hacking” by Georgia Weidman – This book provides a hands-on introduction to penetration testing, including identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities related to hard-coded cryptographic keys.

“Advanced Penetration Testing: Hacking the World’s Most Secure Networks” by Wil Allsopp – This book provides advanced techniques for penetration testing, including identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities related to hard-coded cryptographic keys.

“The Hacker Playbook: Practical Guide to Penetration Testing” by Peter Kim – This book provides a practical guide to penetration testing, including identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities related to hard-coded cryptographic keys.

“Web Application Security: A Beginner’s Guide” by Bryan Sullivan and Vincent Liu – This book provides an introduction to web application security, including identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities related to hard-coded cryptographic keys.

List of payloads Hard-coded Cryptographic Keys

  • RSA private key: is a popular public-key cryptosystem used for secure communication. An RSA private key is used to decrypt messages that have been encrypted with the corresponding public key. If a hard-coded RSA private key is discovered in a program or system, an attacker could potentially use it to decrypt sensitive information.

  • AES encryption key: is a symmetric encryption algorithm commonly used for encrypting data. A hard-coded AES encryption key could be used by an attacker to decrypt sensitive data that has been encrypted with that key.

  • SSL/TLS certificate private key: are used to secure web traffic by encrypting data in transit. If a hard-coded SSL/TLS certificate private key is discovered, an attacker could potentially use it to decrypt sensitive information being transmitted over the network.

  • Password hashes: are one-way functions used to store passwords securely. If a hard-coded password hash is discovered, an attacker could potentially use it to crack the original password and gain access to sensitive information.

  • SSH private key: is a protocol used for secure communication and remote access. An SSH private key is used to authenticate the user and establish a secure connection. If a hard-coded SSH private key is discovered, an attacker could potentially use it to gain unauthorized access to a system.

  • HMAC keys: is a technique used to verify the integrity and authenticity of a message. An HMAC key is used to generate the HMAC, and if a hard-coded HMAC key is discovered, an attacker could potentially use it to forge HMACs and bypass security measures.

  • HMAC secret keys: HMAC secret keys are used to generate HMACs for message authentication. A hard-coded HMAC secret key could be used to forge HMACs and bypass security measures.

  • Symmetric encryption keys: such as AES, use the same key for both encryption and decryption. If a hard-coded symmetric encryption key is discovered, an attacker could potentially use it to decrypt sensitive data.

  • Public/private key pairs: are used in asymmetric encryption algorithms, such as RSA, to securely exchange messages. If a hard-coded private key is discovered, an attacker could potentially use it to decrypt sensitive messages intended for the owner of the private key.

  • API keys: are used to authenticate and authorize access to web services and APIs. If a hard-coded API key is discovered, an attacker could potentially use it to gain unauthorized access to the associated web service or API.

How to be protected from Hard-coded Cryptographic Keys

  1. Use secure coding practices: Developers should avoid hard-coding cryptographic keys in their code whenever possible. Instead, keys should be generated dynamically and stored securely.

  2. Follow the principle of least privilege: Users and applications should only be given the minimum level of access necessary to perform their tasks. This can help prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information.

  3. Regularly update software and firmware: Updates can often include security patches that address vulnerabilities, including those related to hard-coded cryptographic keys.

  4. Use encryption and secure communication protocols: Encryption can help protect sensitive data in transit and at rest. Secure communication protocols, such as HTTPS, can help prevent man-in-the-middle attacks.

  5. Conduct regular security assessments and penetration testing: Regular testing can help identify vulnerabilities, including hard-coded cryptographic keys, so that they can be addressed before they are exploited.

  6. Use strong and unique passwords: Passwords should be complex and unique for each account. This can help prevent unauthorized access even if a hard-coded cryptographic key is compromised.

  7. Implement multi-factor authentication: Multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to the authentication process, making it more difficult for attackers to gain unauthorized access to accounts or systems.

Mitigations for Hard-coded Cryptographic Keys

  1. Use Key Management Systems (KMS): Key Management Systems provide a centralized way to manage and store cryptographic keys. This helps ensure that keys are not hard-coded and are instead dynamically generated and stored securely.

  2. Use Code Scanning Tools: Automated code scanning tools can help identify hard-coded cryptographic keys in code. Developers can use these tools to identify and remove hard-coded keys before deploying software.

  3. Follow Secure Coding Practices: Developers should follow secure coding practices, such as those recommended by organizations like OWASP. This includes avoiding hard-coding cryptographic keys in code and instead dynamically generating and storing keys securely.

  4. Use Encryption: Data should be encrypted using industry-standard encryption algorithms, and encryption keys should be dynamically generated and securely stored using a KMS. This can help protect sensitive data from unauthorized access, even if hard-coded cryptographic keys are compromised.

  5. Use Secure Communication Protocols: Applications should use secure communication protocols, such as HTTPS, to protect data in transit. This can help prevent man-in-the-middle attacks, which can be used to intercept and steal hard-coded cryptographic keys.

  6. Implement Regular Security Testing: Regular security testing, including penetration testing, can help identify vulnerabilities, including hard-coded cryptographic keys, so that they can be addressed before they are exploited.

Conclusion

Hard-coded cryptographic keys are a serious security vulnerability that can lead to the compromise of sensitive data, systems, and applications. Hard-coded keys are static and can be easily discovered by attackers, making them vulnerable to exploitation.

To mitigate this vulnerability, developers should follow secure coding practices, such as dynamically generating and securely storing cryptographic keys, and regularly testing code for vulnerabilities, including hard-coded keys. Additionally, organizations should use key management systems, encryption, secure communication protocols, and multi-factor authentication to help protect against hard-coded cryptographic keys.

Users and administrators also play a critical role in protecting against hard-coded keys by following safe computing practices, such as using strong and unique passwords and regularly updating software and firmware.

Overall, the mitigation of hard-coded cryptographic keys requires a multi-layered approach involving both technical and organizational measures, and it is essential to prioritize security at all stages of the software development life cycle.

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