Software and Computer Engineering

Memory Safety and Type Safety

Most of the software we've come to rely on today are written in C (or run on top of a VM, which was written in C). A whole class of bugs and remotely-exploitable vulnerabilities can be attributed to programmer mistakes when dealing with manual memory management, as imposed by the C programming language.

Let's explore how to achieve memory safety and type safety within a C program, and hopefully build some primitives that, at a small runtime cost, can offer those nice guarantees to client application code.

What is Memory Safety?

A program exhibits memory-unsafe behavior when it:

Memory unsafety is also related to the management of memory resources:

What is Type Safety?

Type unsafe behavior occurs when an underlying data representation of an intended data type is interpreted as another data type.

Vijay Saraswat provides the following definition: “A language is type-safe if the only operations that can be performed on data in the language are those sanctioned by the type of the data.”