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Secure Coding in C and C++ (SEI Series in Software Engineering)


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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"The security of information systems has not improved at a rate consistent with the growth and sophistication of the attacks being made against them. To address this problem, we must improve the underlying strategies and techniques used to create our systems. Specifically, we must build security in from the start, rather than append it as an afterthought. That's the point of Secure Coding in C and C++. In careful detail, this book shows software developers how to build high-quality systems that are less vulnerable to costly and even catastrophic attack. It's a book that every developer should read before the start of any serious project."

--Frank Abagnale, author, lecturer, and leading consultant on fraud prevention and secure documentsLearn the Root Causes of Software Vulnerabilities and How to Avoid Them

Commonly exploited software vulnerabilities are usually caused by avoidable software defects. Having analyzed nearly 18,000 vulnerability reports over the past ten years, the CERT/Coordination Center (CERT/CC) has determined that a relatively small number of root causes account for most of them. This book identifies and explains these causes and shows the steps that can be taken to prevent exploitation. Moreover, this book encourages programmers to adopt security best practices and develop a security mindset that can help protect software from tomorrow's attacks, not just today's.

Drawing on the CERT/CC's reports and conclusions, Robert Seacord systematically identifies the program errors most likely to lead to security breaches, shows how they can be exploited, reviews the potential consequences, and presents secure alternatives.

Coverage includes technical detail on how to

  • Improve the overall security of any C/C++ application
  • Thwart buffer overflows and stack-smashing attacks that exploit insecure string manipulation logic
  • Avoid vulnerabilities and security flaws resulting from the incorrect use of dynamic memory management functions
  • Eliminate integer-related problems: integer overflows, sign errors, and truncation errors
  • Correctly use formatted output functions without introducing format-string vulnerabilities
  • Avoid I/O vulnerabilities, including race conditions

Secure Coding in C and C++ presents hundreds of examples of secure code, insecure code, and exploits, implemented for Windows and Linux. If you're responsible for creating secure C or C++ software--or for keeping it safe--no other book offers you this much detailed, expert assistance.

About the Author

Robert Seacord began programming (professionally) for IBM in 1982 and has been programming in C since 1985, and in C++ since 1992. Robert is currently a Senior Vulnerability Analyst with the CERT/Coordination Center at the Software Engineering Institute (SEI). He is coauthor of Building Systems from Commercial Components (Addison-Wesley, 2002) and Modernizing Legacy Systems (Addison-Wesley, 2003). The CERT/CC, among other security-related activities, regularly analyzes software vulnerability reports and assesses the risk to the Internet and other critical infrastructure.

Table of Contents



About the Author.

1. Running with Scissors.

    Gauging the Threat

    Security Concepts

    C and C++

    Development Platforms


    Further Reading

2. Strings.

    String Characteristics

    Common String Manipulation Errors

    String Vulnerabilities

    Process Memory Organization

    Stack Smashing

    Code Injection

    Arc Injection

    Mitigation Strategies

    Notable Vulnerabilities


    Further Reading

3. Pointer Subterfuge.

    Data Locations

    Function Pointers

    Data Pointers

    Modifying the Instruction Pointer

    Global Offset Table

    The .dtors Section

    Virtual Pointers

    The atexit() and on_exit() Functions

    The longjmp() Function

    Exception Handling

    Mitigation Strategies


    Further Reading

4. Dynamic Memory Management.

    Dynamic Memory Management

    Common Dynamic Memory Management Errors

    Doug Lea's Memory Allocator


    Mitigation Strategies

    Notable Vulnerabilities


    Further Reading

5. Integer Security.


    Integer Conversions

    Integer Error Conditions

    Integer Operations


    Nonexceptional Integer Logic Errors

    Mitigation Strategies

    Notable Vulnerabilities


    Further Reading

6. Formatted Output.

    Variadic Functions

    Formatted Output Functions

    Exploiting Formatted Output Functions

    Stack Randomization

    Mitigation Strategies

    Notable Vulnerabilities


    Further Reading

7. File I/O.


    Time of Check, Time of Use

    Files as Locks and File Locking

    File System Exploits

    Mitigation Strategies


8. Recommended Practices.

    Secure Software Development Principles

    Systems Quality Requirements Engineering

    Threat Modeling

    Use/Misuse Cases

    Architecture and Design

    Off-the-Shelf Software

    Compiler Checks

    Input Validation

    Data Sanitization

    Static Analysis

    Quality Assurance

    Memory Permissions

    Defense in Depth



    Further Reading





Product Details

Seacord, Robert C.
Addison-Wesley Professional
Programming Languages - C
C (computer program language)
Security - General
Computer security
Networking-Computer Security
Edition Description:
Trade paper
SEI Series in Software Engineering
Publication Date:
September 2005
Grade Level:
Professional and scholarly
9.24 x 7 x 0.76 in 608 gr

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Related Subjects

Computers and Internet » Computer Languages » C
Computers and Internet » Computer Languages » C++
Computers and Internet » Networking » Computer Security

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