LCNC-SEC-08: Data and Secret Handling Failures

Risk Rating *

Prevalence Detectability Exploitability Technical Impact
3 2 3 3

The Gist

Low-code/no-code development often stores data or secrets as part of their “code,” or on managed databases offered by the platform, which must be stored adequately in compliance with regulation and security requirements.

Business User Description

Most applications store or use data, and some of that data is more sensitive than others. If a developer is unaware of what data is considered “sensitive data”, or the processes to protect that data, the sensitive information could be exposed.

This can include data such as username/password, credentials to access other systems, personal identifiable information (PII) and more based upon the specific business.


Data stored in databases managed by low-code/no-code vendors often include sensitive data, including PII and financial data. Low-code/no-code builders can decide for themselves how to store data, and administrators often lack visibility into such managed databases. In many cases, sensitive data is stored unencrypted and moved between geo-locations without considering regulatory requirements.

Furthermore, builders have many opportunities to hard-code secrets into their “code”. Whether it’s through environment variables, configuration, or code, applications can often rely on hard-coded secrets to access other services. Hard-coded secrets are available to all users with write permissions to the applications and might also leak to application readers or anonymous users via client-side code.

Moreover, many native log streams mix application logs, metrics, and sensitive data being passed through the application. In many platforms, logs will contain actual data points that the application uses by default.

Example Attack Scenarios

Scenario #1

A developer creates a business application that asks users to fill out a form with sensitive data. They use the managed database provided by the platform to store results. Since the managed database is stored with every other developer by default, they all gain access to the sensitive data.

Scenario #2

A developer creates an application using a custom API and hard-codes the API key in the code. Other developers can access the API key directly. Moreover, the API key might leak to the app’s client code allowing users to gain direct access to the key.

Example Attack & Misuse Scenarios - Business Users

Scenario #1

An application is developed, which stores credentials in a database. The database stores passwords in a human readable format, allowing anybody to view them. An employee with access to this database can view the password of every employee within the company, including highly privileged administrative accounts.

Scenario #2

A new application is built that stores personal data about EU residents. The developer is unaware of the GDPR rules that allows a user to have their personal data deleted upon request. Rather than building a process to delete data upon request, the business now has to process these requests manually, resulting in inconsistent adherence to the GDPR rules. That inconsistent behavior can lead to fines, audit findings and other potential penalties.

How to Prevent

  • Educate business users on the compliance, privacy, and security risks related to data storage
  • Monitor managed databases, environment variables, and configuration provided by no-code/low-code vendors for sensitive data
  • Ensure security teams are involved with applications having access to sensitive data