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Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2015 23:34:20 +0100
From: Daniel Cegiełka <>
Subject: Re: thoughts on reallocarray, explicit_bzero?

2015-01-28 23:01 GMT+01:00 Daniel Cegiełka <>:
> 2014-05-19 18:16 GMT+02:00 Rich Felker <>:
>> On Mon, May 19, 2014 at 05:44:59PM +0200, Daniel Cegiełka wrote:
>>> diff -urN musl.orig/src/string/explicit_bzero.c musl/src/string/explicit_bzero.c
>>> --- musl.orig/src/string/explicit_bzero.c     Thu Jan  1 00:00:00 1970
>>> +++ musl/src/string/explicit_bzero.c  Fri May  9 09:57:45 2014
>>> @@ -0,0 +1,8 @@
>>> +#include <string.h>
>>> +
>>> +static void *(*volatile explicit_memset)(void *, int, size_t) = memset;
>>> +
>>> +void explicit_bzero(void *b, size_t len)
>>> +{
>>> +     (*explicit_memset)(b, 0, len);
>>> +}
>> This is a nice trick, but IIRC I actually observed GCC optimizing out
>> similar code before (instead of your static volatile, I used a
>> volatile compound literal). At least the concept is right though: you
>> want to prevent the compiler from being able to do any flow analysis
>> at compile time, and making the function pointer volatile achieves
>> this rather well. On the other hand, GCC will put the volatile pointer
>> (if it even emits it) in non-constant memory, meaning it's an
>> additional attack vector for function-pointer-overwrite attacks.
> Linux kernel has similar functions and uses a barrier() here:
> Is such a solution is more correct (and still portable)?

I'm afraid that the only appropriate solution is to use memset_s()
from C11 and the expectation that the compiler will accept it.
barrier() does not give any guarantee that this function will be
secure. Only compiler decides. I'm afraid that OpenBSD goes bad path
with explicit_bzero(). The same applies to the linux kernel and
memzero_explicit().. very stupid name...


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