Integer values used in any of the the following ways must be guaranteed correct:
 as an array index
 in any pointer arithmetic
 as a length or size of an object
 as the bound of an array (for example, a loop counter)
 in securitycritical code
Most integer operations can result in overflow if the resulting value cannot be represented by the underlying representation of the integer. The following table indicates which operators can result in overflow:
Operator 
Overflow 

Operator 
Overflow 

Operator 
Overflow 

Operator 
Overflow 

yes 

yes 

yes 

< 
no 

yes 

yes 

>> 
no 

> 
no 

yes 

yes 

& 
no 

>= 
no 

yes 

yes 

 
no 

<= 
no 

yes 

yes 

^ 
no 

== 
no 

++ 
yes 

>>= 
no 

~ 
no 

!= 
no 
 
yes 

&= 
no 

! 
no 

&& 
no 
= 
no 

= 
no 

un + 
no 

 
no 
yes 

^= 
no 

yes 

?: 
no 
The following sections examine specific operations that are susceptible to integer overflow. The specific tests that are required to guarantee that the operation does not result in an integer overflow depend on the signedness of the integer types. When operating on small types (smaller than int
), integer conversion rules apply. The usual arithmetic conversions may also be applied to (implicitly) convert operands to equivalent types before arithmetic operations are performed. Make sure you understand implicit conversion rules before trying to implement secure arithmetic operations (see INT02A. Understand integer conversion rules).
Addition
Addition is between two operands of arithmetic type or between a pointer to an object type and an integer type. Incrementing is equivalent to adding one.
NonCompliant Code Example (Unsigned)
This code may result in an unsigned integer overflow during the addition of the unsigned operands ui1
and ui2
. If this behavior is unexpected, the resulting value may be used to allocate insufficient memory for a subsequent operation or in some other manner that could lead to an exploitable vulnerability.
unsigned int ui1, ui2, sum; sum = ui1 + ui2;
Compliant Solution (Unsigned)
This compliant solution tests the suspect addition operation to guarantee there is no possibility of unsigned overflow.
unsigned int ui1, ui2, sum; if (UINT_MAX  ui1 < ui2) { /* handle error condition */ } sum = ui1 + ui2;
NonCompliant Code Example (Signed)
This code may result in a signed integer overflow during the addition of the signed operands si1
and si2
. If this behavior is unanticipated, it could lead to an exploitable vulnerability.
int si1, si2, sum; sum = si1 + si2;
Compliant Solution (Two's Complement Signed)
This compliant solution tests the addition operation to ensure no overflow occurs, assuming two's complement representation.
signed int si1, si2, sum; if ( ((si1^si2)  (((si1^(~(si1^si2) & (1 << (sizeof(int)*CHAR_BIT1))))+si2)^si2)) >= 0) { /* handle error condition */ } sum = si1 + si2;
Compliant Solution (General Signed)
This compliant solution tests the suspect addition operation to ensure no overflow occurs regardless of representation.
signed int si1, si2, sum; if (((si1>0) && (si2>0) && (si1 > (INT_MAXsi2)))  ((si1<0) && (si2<0) && (si1 < (INT_MINsi2)))) { /* handle error condition */ } sum = si1 + si2;
This solution is more readable but contains branches and consequently may be less efficient than the solution that is specific to two's complement representation.
Subtraction
Subtraction is between two operands of arithmetic type, two pointers to qualified or unqualified versions of compatible object types, or between a pointer to an object type and an integer type. Decrementing is equivalent to subtracting one.
NonCompliant Code Example (Unsigned)
This code may result in an unsigned integer overflow during the subtraction of the unsigned operands ui1
and ui2
. If this behavior is unanticipated, it may lead to an exploitable vulnerability.
unsigned int ui1, ui2, result; result = ui1  ui2;
Compliant Solution (Unsigned)
This compliant solution tests the suspect unsigned subtraction operation to guarantee there is no possibility of unsigned overflow.
unsigned int ui1, ui2, result; if (ui1 < ui2){ /* handle error condition */ } result = ui1  ui2;
NonCompliant Code Example (Signed)
This code can result in a signed integer overflow during the subtraction of the signed operands si1
and si2
. If this behavior is unanticipated, the resulting value may be used to allocate insufficient memory for a subsequent operation or in some other manner that could lead to an exploitable vulnerability.
signed int si1, si2, result; result = si1  si2;
Compliant Solution (Two's Complement Signed)
This compliant solution tests the suspect subtraction operation to guarantee there is no possibility of signed overflow, presuming two's complement representation.
signed int si1, si2, result; if (((si1^si2) & (((si1 ^ ((si1^si2) & (1 << (sizeof(int)*CHAR_BIT1))))si2)^si2)) < 0) { /* handle error condition */ } result = si1  si2;
Multiplication
Multiplication is between two operands of arithmetic type.
NonCompliant Code Example (Signed)
This noncompliant code example can result in a signed integer overflow during the multiplication of the signed operands si1
and si2
. If this behavior is unanticipated, the resulting value may be used to allocate insufficient memory for a subsequent operation or in some other manner that could lead to an exploitable vulnerability.
signed int si1, si2, result; result = si1 * si2;
Compliant Solution (Signed)
This compliant solution guarantees there is no possibility of signed overflow.
signed int si1, si2, result; signed long long tmp = (signed long long)si1 * (signed long long)si2; /* * If the product cannot be represented as a 32bit integer, handle as an error condition */ if ( (tmp > INT_MAX)  (tmp < INT_MIN) ) { /* handle error condition */ } result = (int)tmp;
The preceding code is compliant only on systems where long long
is at least twice the size of int
. On systems where this relationship does not exist, the following compliant solution may be used to ensure signed overflow does not occur.
signed int si1, si2, result; if (si1 > 0){ /* si1 is positive */ if (si2 > 0) { /* si1 and si2 are positive */ if (si1 > (INT_MAX / si2)) { /* handle error condition */ } } /* end if si1 and si2 are positive */ else { /* si1 positive, si2 nonpositive */ if (si2 < (INT_MIN / si1)) { /* handle error condition */ } } /* si1 positive, si2 nonpositive */ } /* end if si1 is positive */ else { /* si1 is nonpositive */ if (si2 > 0) { /* si1 is nonpositive, si2 is positive */ if (si1 < (INT_MIN / si2)) { /* handle error condition */ } } /* end if si1 is nonpositive, si2 is positive */ else { /* si1 and si2 are nonpositive */ if ( (si1 != 0) && (si2 < (INT_MAX / si1))) { /* handle error condition */ } } /* end if si1 and si2 are nonpositive */ } /* end if si1 is nonpositive */ result = si1 * si2;
NonCompliant Code Example (Unsigned)
The Mozilla Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) viewer contains a heap buffer overflow vulnerability resulting from an unsigned integer overflow during the multiplication of the signed int
value pen>num_vertices
and the size_t
value sizeof(cairo_pen_vertex_t)
[[VU#551436]]. The signed int
operand is converted to unsigned int
prior to the multiplication operation (see [INT02A. Understand integer conversion rules]).
pen>num_vertices = _cairo_pen_vertices_needed(gstate>tolerance, radius, &gstate>ctm); pen>vertices = malloc(pen>num_vertices * sizeof(cairo_pen_vertex_t));
The unsigned integer overflow can result in allocating memory of insufficient size.
Compliant Solution (Unsigned)
This compliant solution tests the suspect multiplication operation to guarantee that there is no unsigned integer overflow.
pen>num_vertices = _cairo_pen_vertices_needed(gstate>tolerance, radius, &gstate>ctm); if (pen>num_vertices > SIZE_MAX/sizeof(cairo_pen_vertex_t)) { /* handle error condition */ } pen>vertices = malloc(pen>num_vertices * sizeof(cairo_pen_vertex_t));
Division
Division is between two operands of arithmetic type. Overflow can occur during twoscomplement signed integer division when the dividend is equal to the minimum (negative) value for the signed integer type and the divisor is equal to 1. Both signed and unsigned division operations are also susceptible to dividebyzero errors (see INT33C. Ensure that division and modulo operations do not result in dividebyzero errors).
NonCompliant Code Example (Signed)
This code can result in a signed integer overflow during the division of the signed operands sl1
and sl2
or in a dividebyzero error. The IA32 architecture, for example, requires that both conditions result in a fault, which could easily result in a denialofservice attack.
signed long sl1, sl2, result; result = sl1 / sl2;
Compliant Solution (Signed)
This compliant solution guarantees there is no possibility of signed overflow or dividebyzero errors.
signed long sl1, sl2, result; if ( (sl2 == 0)  ( (sl1 == LONG_MIN) && (sl2 == 1) ) ) { /* handle error condition */ } result = sl1 / sl2;
Modulo
The modulo operator provides the remainder when two operands of integer type are divided.
NonCompliant Code Example (Signed)
This code can result in a dividebyzero or an overflow error during the modulo operation on the signed operands sl1
and sl2
. Overflow can occur during a modulo operation when the dividend is equal to the minimum (negative) value for the signed integer type and the divisor is equal to 1.
signed long sl1, sl2, result; result = sl1 % sl2;
Compliant Solution (Signed)
This compliant solution tests the suspect modulo operation to guarantee there is no possibility of a dividebyzero error or an overflow error.
signed long sl1, sl2, result; if ( (sl2 == 0 )  ( (sl1 == LONG_MIN) && (sl2 == 1) ) ) { /* handle error condition */ } result = sl1 % sl2;
Unary Negation
The unary negation operator takes an operand of arithmetic type. Overflow can occur during twoscomplement unary negation when the operand is equal to the minimum (negative) value for the signed integer type.
NonCompliant Code Example
This noncompliant code example can result in a signed integer overflow during the unary negation of the signed operand si1
. If this behavior is unanticipated, the resulting value may be used to allocate insufficient memory for a subsequent operation or in some other manner that could lead to an exploitable vulnerability.
signed int si1, result; result = si1;
Compliant Solution
This compliant solution tests the suspect negation operation to guarantee there is no possibility of signed overflow.
signed int si1, result; if (si1 == INT_MIN) { /* handle error condition */ } result = si1;
Left Shift Operator
The left shift operator is between two operands of integer type.
NonCompliant Code Example (Unsigned)
This code can result in an unsigned overflow during the shift operation of the unsigned operands ui1
and ui2
. If this behavior is unanticipated, the resulting value may be used to allocate insufficient memory for a subsequent operation or in some other manner that could lead to an exploitable vulnerability.
unsigned int ui1, ui2, uresult; uresult = ui1 << ui2;
Compliant Solution (Unsigned)
This compliant solution tests the suspect shift operation to guarantee there is no possibility of unsigned overflow. This solution must also be compliant with INT36C. Do not shift a negative number of bits or more bits than exist in the operand.
unsigned int ui1, ui2, uresult; if ( (ui2 >= sizeof(unsigned int)*CHAR_BIT)  (ui1 > (UINT_MAX >> ui2))) ) { /* handle error condition */ } else { uresult = ui1 << ui2; }
Exceptions
INT32EX1. Unsigned integers can exhibit modulo behavior only when this behavior is necessary for the proper execution of the program. It is recommended that the variable declaration be clearly commented as supporting modulo behavior and that each operation on that integer also be clearly commented as supporting modulo behavior.
Risk Assessment
Integer overflow can lead to buffer overflows and the execution of arbitrary code by an attacker.
Rule 
Severity 
Likelihood 
Remediation Cost 
Priority 
Level 

INT32C 
3 (high) 
3 (likely) 
1 (high) 
P9 
L2 
Automated Detection
Fortify SCA Version 5.0 with CERT C Rule Pack is able to detect violations of this rule.
Related Vulnerabilities
Search for vulnerabilities resulting from the violation of this rule on the CERT website.
A Linux kernel vmsplice exploit, described at http://www.avertlabs.com/research/blog/index.php/2008/02/13/analyzingthelinuxkernelvmspliceexploit/,
documents a vulnerability and exploit arising directly out of integer overflow.
References
[[Dowd 06]] Chapter 6, "C Language Issues" (Arithmetic Boundary Conditions, pp. 211223)
[[ISO/IEC 98991999]] Section 6.5, "Expressions," and Section 7.10, "Sizes of integer types <limits.h>"
[[ISO/IEC PDTR 24772]] "XYY Wraparound Error"
[[Seacord 05]] Chapter 5, "Integers"
[[Viega 05]] Section 5.2.7, "Integer overflow"
[[VU#551436]]
[[Warren 02]] Chapter 2, "Basics"
INT15A. Take care when converting from pointer to integer or integer to pointer 04. Integers (INT)