Use of Inherently Dangerous Function

The program calls a function that can never be guaranteed to work safely.


Description

Certain functions behave in dangerous ways regardless of how they are used. Functions in this category were often implemented without taking security concerns into account. The gets() function is unsafe because it does not perform bounds checking on the size of its input. An attacker can easily send arbitrarily-sized input to gets() and overflow the destination buffer. Similarly, the >> operator is unsafe to use when reading into a statically-allocated character array because it does not perform bounds checking on the size of its input. An attacker can easily send arbitrarily-sized input to the >> operator and overflow the destination buffer.

Demonstrations

The following examples help to illustrate the nature of this weakness and describe methods or techniques which can be used to mitigate the risk.

Note that the examples here are by no means exhaustive and any given weakness may have many subtle varieties, each of which may require different detection methods or runtime controls.

Example One

The code below calls gets() to read information into a buffer.

char buf[BUFSIZE];
gets(buf);

The gets() function in C is inherently unsafe.

Example Two

The code below calls the gets() function to read in data from the command line.

char buf[24];
  printf("Please enter your name and press <Enter>\n");
  gets(buf);
  ...
}

However, the programmer uses the function gets() which is inherently unsafe because it copies all input from STDIN to the buffer without checking size. This allows the user to provide a string that is larger than the buffer size, resulting in an overflow condition.

See Also

API / Function Errors

Weaknesses in this category are related to the use of built-in functions or external APIs.

SEI CERT C Coding Standard - Guidelines 50. POSIX (POS)

Weaknesses in this category are related to the rules and recommendations in the POSIX (POS) section of the SEI CERT C Coding Standard.

SFP Secondary Cluster: Use of an Improper API

This category identifies Software Fault Patterns (SFPs) within the Use of an Improper API cluster (SFP3).

Comprehensive CWE Dictionary

This view (slice) covers all the elements in CWE.

Weaknesses Introduced During Implementation

This view (slice) lists weaknesses that can be introduced during implementation.

Weakness Base Elements

This view (slice) displays only weakness base elements.


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