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more input validation unnecessary

There’s a widespread belief that validating user input prevents security vulnerabilities. This is true as far as it goes, but doesn’t tell the whole story. Consider the following example, distilled from any number of real world examples.

    if (!valid_input(buffer)) {
        free(buffer);
        error = BADSTUFF;
        goto ungood;
    }
    error = process_input(buffer);
ungood:
    free(buffer);
    return error;

A not uncommon mistake. A vulnerability report may, quite accurately, say something like “Invalid inputs may result in remote code execution.” However, further input validation won’t fix this bug, nor will tweeting “This is why you always validate your inputs!” prevent future occurrences.

Lots of problems may share similar or even identical descriptions without sharing fixes. It’s a small point, really, but no less important. And of course, hardly limited to the field of security.

Posted 25 Apr 2016 18:14 by tedu Updated: 25 Apr 2016 18:14