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INT30-C. Ensure that unsigned integer operations do not wrap

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Version 62

According to C99, Section 6.2.5, "Types"

A computation involving unsigned operands can never overflow, because a result that cannot be represented by the resulting unsigned integer type is reduced modulo the number that is one greater than the largest value that can be represented by the resulting type.

This behavior is more informally referred to as unsigned integer wrapping. Unsigned integer operations can wrap if the resulting value cannot be represented by the underlying representation of the integer. The following table indicates which operators can result in wrapping:

Operator

Wrap

Operator

Wrap

Operator

Wrap

Operator

Wrap

yes

yes

<<

yes

<

no

yes

yes

>>

no

>

no

yes

/=

no

&

no

>=

no

/

no

%=

no

|

no

<=

no

%

no

yes

^

no

==

no

++

yes

>>=

no

~

no

!=

no

--

yes

&=

no

!

no

&&

no

=

no

|=

no

un +

no

||

no

yes

^=

no

un -

yes

?:

no

Although unsigned left shift `<<` can result in wrapping, modulo behavior is permitted by this standard because of common usage, because this behavior is usually expected by the programmer, and because the behavior is well-defined.

The following sections examine specific operations that are susceptible to unsigned integer wrap. When operating on small integer types (smaller than `int`), integer promotions are applied. The usual arithmetic conversions may also be applied to (implicitly) convert operands to equivalent types before arithmetic operations are performed. Make sure you understand integer conversion rules before trying to implement secure arithmetic operations. (See recommendation INT02-C. Understand integer conversion rules.)

Integer values must not be allowed to wrap if they are used in any of the following ways:

• 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)
• as an argument to a memory allocation function
• in security-critical code

Addition is between two operands of arithmetic type or between a pointer to an object type and an integer type. (See rules ARR37-C. Do not add or subtract an integer to a pointer to a non-array object and ARR38-C. Do not add or subtract an integer to a pointer if the resulting value does not refer to a valid array element for information about adding a pointer to an integer.) Incrementing is equivalent to adding one.

Noncompliant Code Example

This noncompliant code example may result in an unsigned integer wrap 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 can lead to an exploitable vulnerability.

```unsigned int ui1, ui2, usum;

/* Initialize ui1 and ui2 */

usum = ui1 + ui2;
```

Compliant Solution (Pre-Condition Test)

This compliant solution performs a pre-condition test of the operands of the addition to guarantee there is no possibility of unsigned wrap.

```unsigned int ui1, ui2, usum;

/* Initialize ui1 and ui2 */

if (UINT_MAX - ui1 < ui2) {
/* handle error condition */
}
else {
usum = ui1 + ui2;
}
```

Compliant Solution (Post-Condition Test)

This compliant solution performs a post-condition test to ensure that the result of the unsigned addition operation `usum` is not less than the first operand.

```unsigned int ui1, ui2, usum;

/* Initialize ui1 and ui2 */

usum = ui1 + ui2;
if (usum < ui1) {
/* handle error condition */
}
```

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. See rules ARR36-C. Do not subtract or compare two pointers that do not refer to the same array, ARR37-C. Do not add or subtract an integer to a pointer to a non-array object, and ARR38-C. Do not add or subtract an integer to a pointer if the resulting value does not refer to a valid array element for information about pointer subtraction. Decrementing is equivalent to subtracting one.

Noncompliant Code Example

This noncompliant code example may result in an unsigned integer wrap 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, udiff;

/* Initialize ui1 and ui2 */

udiff = ui1 - ui2;
```

Compliant Solution (Pre-Condition Test)

This compliant solution performs a pre-condition test of the unsigned operands of the subtraction operation to guarantee there is no possibility of unsigned wrap.

```unsigned int ui1, ui2, udiff;

/* Initialize ui1 and ui2 */

if (ui1 < ui2){
/* handle error condition */
}
else {
udiff = ui1 - ui2;
}
```

Compliant Solution (Post-Condition Test)

This compliant solution performs a post-condition test that the result of the unsigned subtraction operation `udiff` is not greater than the minuend.

```unsigned int ui1, ui2, udiff ;

/* Initialize ui1 and ui2 */

udiff = ui1 - ui2;
if (udiff > ui1) {
/* handle error condition */
}
```

Multiplication

Multiplication is between two operands of arithmetic type.

Noncompliant Code Example

The Mozilla Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) viewer contains a heap buffer overflow vulnerability resulting from an unsigned integer wrap 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 `size_t` prior to the multiplication operation so that the multiplication takes place between two `size_t` integers, which are unsigned. (See recommendation INT02-C. Understand integer conversion rules.)

```pen->num_vertices = _cairo_pen_vertices_needed(
);
pen->vertices = malloc(
pen->num_vertices * sizeof(cairo_pen_vertex_t)
);
```

The unsigned integer wrap can result in allocating memory of insufficient size.

Compliant Solution

This compliant solution tests the operands of the multiplication to guarantee that there is no unsigned integer wrap.

```pen->num_vertices = _cairo_pen_vertices_needed(
);

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)
);
```

Exceptions

INT30-EX1. Unsigned integers can exhibit modulo behavior (wrapping) 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.

INT32-EX2. Checks for wraparound can be omitted when it can be determined at compile-time that wraparound will not occur. As such, the following operations on unsigned integers require no validation:

• Operations on two compile-time constants
• Operations on a variable and 0 (except division by 0, of course)
• Subtracting any variable from its type's maximum. For instance, any `unsigned int` may safely be subtracted from `UINT_MAX`.
• Multiplying any variable by 1
• Division, as long as the divisor is nonzero.
• Right-shifting any type maximum by any number smaller than the type size. For instance, `UINT_MAX >> x` is valid as long as `x < sizeof(unsigned int)`.
• Left-shifting 1 by any number smaller than the type size.

Risk Assessment

Integer wrap can lead to buffer overflows and the execution of arbitrary code by an attacker.

Rule

Severity

Likelihood

Remediation Cost

Priority

Level

INT30-C

high

likely

high

P9

L2

Automated Detection

Tool

Version

Checker

Description

Fortify SCA

V. 5.0

can detect violations of this rule with the CERT C Rule Pack

Compass/ROSE

can detect violations of this rule by ensuring that operations are checked for overflow before being performed. Be mindful of exception `INT30-EX2` because it excuses many operations from requiring validation, including all the operations that would validate a potentially dangerous operation. For instance, adding two `unsigned int`'s together requires validation involving subtracting one of the numbers from `UINT_MAX`, which itself requires no validation, as it cannot wrap

Related Vulnerabilities

CVE-2009-1385 results from a violation of this rule. The value performs an unchecked subtraction on the `length` of a buffer, and then adds that many bytes of data to another buffer [xorl 2009]. This can cause a buffer overflow, which allows an attacker to execute arbitrary code.

A Linux kernel vmsplice exploit, described at [Wojtczuk 2008], documents a vulnerability and exploit arising from a buffer overflow (caused by unsigned integer wrapping).

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

Related Guidelines

ISO/IEC 9899:1999 Section 6.2.5, "Types," Section 6.5, "Expressions," and Section 7.10, "Sizes of integer types `<limits.h>`"

ISO/IEC TR 24772 "XYY Wrap-around Error"

MITRE CWE: CWE-190, "Integer Overflow (Wrap or Wraparound)"

Bibliography

[Dowd 2006] Chapter 6, "C Language Issues" (Arithmetic Boundary Conditions, pp. 211-223)
[Seacord 2005] Chapter 5, "Integers"
[Viega 2005] Section 5.2.7, "Integer overflow"
[VU#551436]
[Warren 2002] Chapter 2, "Basics"
[Wojtczuk 2008]
[xorl 2009] "CVE-2009-1385: Linux kernel E1000 Integer Underflow"

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