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The cnd_wait() and cnd_timedwait() functions temporarily cede possession of a mutex so that other threads that may be requesting the mutex can proceed. These functions must always be called from code that is protected by locking a mutex. The waiting thread resumes execution only after it has been notified, generally as the result of the invocation of the cnd_signal() or cnd_broadcast() function invoked by another thread. The cnd_wait() function must be invoked from a loop that checks whether a condition predicate holds. A condition predicate is an expression constructed from the variables of a function that must be true for a thread to be allowed to continue execution. The thread pauses execution, via cnd_wait(), cnd_timedwait(), or some other mechanism, and is resumed later, presumably when the condition predicate is true and the thread is notified.

#include <threads.h>
#include <stdbool.h>
 
extern bool until_finish(void);
extern mtx_t lock;
extern cnd_t condition;
 
void func(void) {
  if (thrd_success != mtx_lock(&lock)) {
    /* Handle error */
  }

  while (until_finish()) {  /* Predicate does not hold */
    if (thrd_success != cnd_wait(&condition, &lock)) {
      /* Handle error */
    }
  }
 
  /* Resume when condition holds */

  if (thrd_success != mtx_unlock(&lock)) {
    /* Handle error */
  }
}

The notification mechanism notifies the waiting thread and allows it to check its condition predicate. The invocation of cnd_broadcast() in another thread cannot precisely determine which waiting thread will be resumed. Condition predicate statements allow notified threads to determine whether they should resume upon receiving the notification. 

Noncompliant Code Example

This noncompliant code example monitors a linked list and assigns one thread to consume list elements when the list is nonempty. 

This thread pauses execution using cnd_wait() and resumes when notified, presumably when the list has elements to be consumed. It is possible for the thread to be notified even if the list is still empty, perhaps because the notifying thread used cnd_broadcast(), which notifies all threads. Notification using cnd_broadcast() is frequently preferred over using cnd_signal(). (See CON38-C. Preserve thread safety and liveness when using condition variables for more information.)

A condition predicate is typically the negation of the condition expression in the loop. In this noncompliant code example, the condition predicate for removing an element from a linked list is (list->next != NULL), whereas the condition expression for the while loop condition is (list->next == NULL).

This noncompliant code example nests the cnd_wait() function inside an if block and consequently fails to check the condition predicate after the notification is received. If the notification was spurious or malicious, the thread would wake up prematurely.

#include <stddef.h>
#include <threads.h>
 
struct node_t {
  void *node;
  struct node_t *next;
};
 
struct node_t list;
static mtx_t lock;
static cnd_t condition;
 
void consume_list_element(void) {
  if (thrd_success != mtx_lock(&lock)) {
    /* Handle error */
  }
 
  if (list.next == NULL) {
    if (thrd_success != cnd_wait(&condition, &lock)) {
      /* Handle error */
    }
  }

  /* Proceed when condition holds */

  if (thrd_success != mtx_unlock(&lock)) {
    /* Handle error */
  }
}

Compliant Solution

This compliant solution calls the cnd_wait() function from within a while loop to check the condition both before and after the call to cnd_wait():

#include <stddef.h>
#include <threads.h>
 
struct node_t {
  void *node;
  struct node_t *next;
};
 
struct node_t list;
static mtx_t lock;
static cnd_t condition;
 
void consume_list_element(void) {
  if (thrd_success != mtx_lock(&lock)) {
    /* Handle error */
  }
 
  while (list.next == NULL) {
    if (thrd_success != cnd_wait(&condition, &lock)) {
      /* Handle error */
    }
  }

  /* Proceed when condition holds */

  if (thrd_success != mtx_unlock(&lock)) {
    /* Handle error */
  }
}

Risk Assessment

Failure to enclose calls to the cnd_wait() or cnd_timedwait() functions inside a while loop can lead to indefinite blocking and denial of service (DoS).

Rule

Severity

Likelihood

Remediation Cost

Priority

Level

CON36-C

Low

Unlikely

Medium

P2

L3

Automated Detection

Tool

Version

Checker

Description

Parasoft C/C++test

10.4.2

CERT_C-CON36-a

Wrap functions that can spuriously wake up in a loop

Polyspace Bug Finder

R2019a

CERT C: Rule CON36-CChecks for situations where functions that can spuriously wake up are not wrapped in loop (rule fully covered)
PRQA QA-C

9.5

2027

Related Vulnerabilities

Search for vulnerabilities resulting from the violation of this rule on the CERT website

Related Guidelines

Key here (explains table format and definitions)

Taxonomy

Taxonomy item

Relationship

CERT Oracle Secure Coding Standard for JavaTHI03-J. Always invoke wait() and await() methods inside a loopPrior to 2018-01-12: CERT: Unspecified Relationship

Bibliography

[ISO/IEC 9899:2011]7.17.7.4, "The atomic_compare_exchange Generic Functions"

[Lea 2000]

1.3.2, "Liveness"
3.2.2, "Monitor Mechanics"