Rust programming language exploit mitigations

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The contents of this post are now part of the official Rust documentation as part of the The rustc book.

The Rust programming language provides memory[1] and thread[2] safety guarantees via its ownership[3], references and borrowing[4], and slice types[5] features. However, Unsafe Rust[6] introduces unsafe blocks, unsafe functions and methods, unsafe traits, and new types that are not subject to the borrowing rules.

Parts of the Rust standard library are implemented as safe abstractions over unsafe code (and historically have been vulnerable to memory corruption[7]). Furthermore, the Rust code and documentation encourage creating safe abstractions over unsafe code. This can cause a false sense of security if unsafe code is not properly reviewed and tested.

Unsafe Rust introduces features that do not provide the same memory and thread safety guarantees. This causes programs or libraries to be susceptible to memory corruption (CWE-119)[8] and concurrency issues (CWE-557)[9]. Modern C and C++ compilers provide exploit mitigations to increase the difficulty to exploit vulnerabilities resulting from these issues. Therefore, the Rust compiler must also support these exploit mitigations in order to mitigate vulnerabilities resulting from the use of Unsafe Rust. This post documents these exploit mitigations and how they apply to Rust.

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#compiler #exploit mitigations #programming language #rust