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Re: Buffer overflow prevention
From: Crispin Cowan <crispin () immunix com>
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2003 15:42:41 -0700

Sam Baskinger wrote:

It sounds like array bounds checking would offer an almost equivalent effect. This would not stop mis-casting a struct and referencing out of it or similar casting+address calcuation errors. To prevent that you would need either a language that prevented the production of that sort of code or to solve the halting problem.

Array bounds checking offers greater protection than any of these protections (StackGuard, ProPolice, PointGuard, W^X, PAX/ASLR, etc.) The problem is that the very fastest array bounds protection for C (Bounded Pointers) imposes a 5X slowdown on performance, where as these other techniques impose overheat somewhere between noise and 20%. See the comparison chart in the back of the PointGuard paper for a good comparison of these techniques:

   "PointGuard: Protecting Pointers From Buffer Overflow
   Vulnerabilities". Crispin Cowan, Steve Beattie, John Johansen and
   Perry Wagle. To appear at the 12^th USENIX Security Symposium
   <http://www.usenix.org/events/sec03/>, Washington DC, August 4-8,
   2003. Paper
   and Talk


Crispin Cowan, Ph.D.           http://immunix.com/~crispin/
Chief Scientist, Immunix       http://immunix.com

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