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When an exception is thrown, control is transferred to the nearest handler with a type that matches the type of the exception thrown. If no matching handler is directly found within the handlers for a try block in which the exception is thrown, the search for a matching handler continues to dynamically search for handlers in the surrounding try blocks of the same thread. The C++ Standard, [except.handle], paragraph 9 [ISO/IEC 14882-2014], states the following:

If no matching handler is found, the function std::terminate() is called; whether or not the stack is unwound before this call to std::terminate() is implementation-defined.

The default terminate handler called by std::terminate() calls std::abort(), which abnormally terminates the process. When std::abort() is called, or if the implementation does not unwind the stack prior to calling std::terminate(), destructors for objects may not be called and external resources can be left in an indeterminate state. Abnormal process termination is the typical vector for denial-of-service attacks. For more information on implicitly calling std::terminate(), see ERR50-CPP. Do not abruptly terminate the program.

All exceptions thrown by an application must be caught by a matching exception handler. Even if the exception cannot be gracefully recovered from, using the matching exception handler ensures that the stack will be properly unwound and provides an opportunity to gracefully manage external resources before terminating the process.

As per ERR50-CPP-EX1, a program that encounters an unrecoverable exception may explicitly catch the exception and terminate, but it may not allow the exception to remain uncaught. One possible solution to comply with this rule, as well as with ERR50-CPP, is for the main() function to catch all exceptions. While this does not generally allow the application to recover from the exception gracefully, it does allow the application to terminate in a controlled fashion.

Noncompliant Code Example

In this noncompliant code example, neither f() nor main() catch exceptions thrown by throwing_func(). Because no matching handler can be found for the exception thrown, std::terminate() is called.

void throwing_func() noexcept(false);
 
void f() {
  throwing_func();
}
 
int main() {
  f();
}

Compliant Solution

In this compliant solution, the main entry point handles all exceptions, which ensures that the stack is unwound up to the main() function and allows for graceful management of external resources.

void throwing_func() noexcept(false);
 
void f() {
  throwing_func();
}
 
int main() {
  try {
    f();
  } catch (...) {
    // Handle error
  }
}

Noncompliant Code Example

In this noncompliant code example, the thread entry point function thread_start() does not catch exceptions thrown by throwing_func(). If the initial thread function exits because an exception is thrown, std::terminate() is called.

#include <thread>

void throwing_func() noexcept(false);
 
void thread_start() {
  throwing_func();
}
 
void f() {
  std::thread t(thread_start);
  t.join();
}

Compliant Solution

In this compliant solution, the thread_start() handles all exceptions and does not rethrow, allowing the thread to terminate normally.

#include <thread>

void throwing_func() noexcept(false);

void thread_start(void) {
  try {
    throwing_func();
  } catch (...) {
    // Handle error
  }
}

void f() {
  std::thread t(thread_start);
  t.join();
}

Risk Assessment

Allowing the application to abnormally terminate can lead to resources not being freed, closed, and so on. It is frequently a vector for denial-of-service attacks.

Rule

Severity

Likelihood

Remediation Cost

Priority

Level

ERR51-CPP

Low

Probable

Medium

P4

L3

Automated Detection

Tool

Version

Checker

Description

Axivion Bauhaus Suite

6.9.0

CertC++-ERR51
LDRA tool suite
9.7.1

 

527 S

Partially implemented

Parasoft C/C++test
10.4.2

CERT_CPP-ERR51-a
CERT_CPP-ERR51-b

Always catch exceptions
Each exception explicitly thrown in the code shall have a handler of a compatible type in all call paths that could lead to that point

Polyspace Bug Finder

R2019a

CERT C++: ERR51-CPPChecks for unhandled exceptions (rule partially covered)
 PRQA QA-C++

4.3 

4035, 4036, 4037

Related Vulnerabilities

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

Related Guidelines

This rule is a subset of ERR50-CPP. Do not abruptly terminate the program.

MITRE CWECWE-754, Improper Check for Unusual or Exceptional Conditions

Bibliography

[ISO/IEC 14882-2014]

Subclause 15.1, "Throwing an Exception"
Subclause 15.3, "Handling an Exception"
Subclause 15.5.1, "The std::terminate() Function"

[MISRA 2008]Rule 15-3-2 (Advisory)
Rule 15-3-4 (Required)