What Is Buffer Overflow?
Buffer overflow is one of the most common code vulnerabilities. If a vulnerability is not addressed, an untrustworthy agent can take advantage and cause a buffer overrun. In this blog, we break down what is buffer overflow, how to prevent buffer overflow, and we provide examples to help make safeguarding your software simpler and easier.
Read along or jump ahead to the section that interests you the most:
- What Is Buffer Overflow?
- What Causes Buffer Overflow?
- Types of Buffer Overflow Attacks
- How to Detect Buffer Overflow?
- How to Prevent Buffer Overflow?
What Is Buffer Overflow?
What Causes Buffer Overflow?
This type of vulnerability happens when there is excess data in a buffer which causes the “overflow". The extra data then overruns into adjacent storage. When this type of security issue occurs, it can cause a full system crash.
There's More Than Just One Type of Vulnerability
There are plenty of software security vulnerabilities you need to prevent. Get our recent white paper — The Top 10 Embedded Security Vulnerabilities — to learn how to prevent them all.
Types of Buffer Overflow Attacks
There are many examples of buffer overrun, including:
How to Detect Buffer Overflow
Klocwork has an extensive set of software security checkers to help ensure that security vulnerabilities cannot be exploited. Each checker provides a description of the violation, an explanation of the potential vulnerabilities and risks, and an example of the code.
How to Prevent Buffer Overflow
Here's how to prevent this software security vulnerability.
Use a Coding Language That Doesn't Allow For Software Vulnerabilities
One way to completely prevent cyberattacks is to use a coding language that doesn’t allow for them. For example, C is a primary target for buffer attacks because the language enables the vulnerability through direct access to memory. On the other hand, languages like Java, Python, and .NET, are immune to buffer vulnerabilities.
Be Aware of Buffer Usage During Development
Another way to prevent software vulnerabilities is to be aware of buffer usage during development. Where buffers are accessed is where the vulnerabilities will occur, especially if the functions deal with user-generated input.
Follow Best Practices
In addition, here are five best practices:
- Leveraging automated code review and testing.
- DevOps training on the concepts of using unsafe functions.
- A focus on safe functions like strncpy vs strcpy and strncat vs strcat.
- Keeping application servers patched.
- Using code analysis tools to periodically check applications for software security flaws.
Prevent Buffer Overflow Vulnerabilities with Klocwork
To absolutely ensure your application is safe from damaging software vulnerabilities attacks, the best course of action is to use static code analysis. As mentioned, C and C++ are particularly vulnerable to overflow. To protect C and C++ applications, you can use an SCA tool and run a coding standard like MISRA or CERT to identify software vulnerabilities.
SASTtools are important for detecting security vulnerabilities across software applications. With SCA tools, security vulnerability issues can be found as code is being developed.