CodeQL documentation

Cleartext storage of sensitive information in an application preference store

ID: swift/cleartext-storage-preferences
Kind: path-problem
Security severity: 7.5
Severity: warning
Precision: high
   - security
   - external/cwe/cwe-312
Query suites:
   - swift-code-scanning.qls
   - swift-security-extended.qls
   - swift-security-and-quality.qls

Click to see the query in the CodeQL repository

Sensitive information that is stored unencrypted in an application preference store, such as the user defaults database or the iCloud-backed ubiquitous key-value store, is accessible to an attacker who gains access to that data store. For example, the information could be accessed by any process or user in a rooted device, by compromised app extensions, or could be exposed through another vulnerability.


Either store the data in an encrypted database, or ensure that each piece of sensitive information is encrypted before being stored. In general, decrypt sensitive information only at the point where it is necessary for it to be used in cleartext. Avoid storing sensitive information at all if you do not need to keep it.


The following example shows three cases of storing information using UserDefaults. In the ‘BAD’ case, the data that is stored is sensitive (a credit card number) and is not encrypted. In the ‘GOOD’ cases, the data is either not sensitive, or is protected with encryption.

func storeMyData(faveSong : String, creditCardNo : String) {
	// ...

	// GOOD: not sensitive information
	UserDefaults.standard.set(faveSong, forKey: "myFaveSong")

	// BAD: sensitive information saved in cleartext
	UserDefaults.standard.set(creditCardNo, forKey: "myCreditCardNo")

	// GOOD: encrypted sensitive information saved
	UserDefaults.standard.set(encrypt(creditCardNo), forKey: "myCreditCardNo")

	// ...


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