Improper Validation of Specified Index, Position, or Offset in Input
The product receives input that is expected to specify an index, position, or offset into an indexable resource such as a buffer or file, but it does not validate or incorrectly validates that the specified index/position/offset has the required properties.
Often, indexable resources such as memory buffers or files can be accessed using a specific position, index, or offset, such as an index for an array or a position for a file. When untrusted input is not properly validated before it is used as an index, attackers could access (or attempt to access) unauthorized portions of these resources. This could be used to cause buffer overflows, excessive resource allocation, or trigger unexpected failures.
The following examples help to illustrate the nature of this weakness and describe methods or techniques which can be used to mitigate the risk.
Note that the examples here are by no means exhaustive and any given weakness may have many subtle varieties, each of which may require different detection methods or runtime controls.
The following example retrieves the sizes of messages for a pop3 mail server. The message sizes are retrieved from a socket that returns in a buffer the message number and the message size, the message number (num) and size (size) are extracted from the buffer and the message size is placed into an array using the message number for the array index.
In this example the message number retrieved from the buffer could be a value that is outside the allowable range of indices for the array and could possibly be a negative number. Without proper validation of the value to be used for the array index an array overflow could occur and could potentially lead to unauthorized access to memory addresses and system crashes. The value of the array index should be validated to ensure that it is within the allowable range of indices for the array as in the following code.
In the following example the method displayProductSummary is called from a Web service servlet to retrieve product summary information for display to the user. The servlet obtains the integer value of the product number from the user and passes it to the displayProductSummary method. The displayProductSummary method passes the integer value of the product number to the getProductSummary method which obtains the product summary from the array object containing the project summaries using the integer value of the product number as the array index.
In this example the integer value used as the array index that is provided by the user may be outside the allowable range of indices for the array which may provide unexpected results or cause the application to fail. The integer value used for the array index should be validated to ensure that it is within the allowable range of indices for the array as in the following code.
An alternative in Java would be to use one of the collection objects such as ArrayList that will automatically generate an exception if an attempt is made to access an array index that is out of bounds.
The following example asks a user for an offset into an array to select an item.
The programmer allows the user to specify which element in the list to select, however an attacker can provide an out-of-bounds offset, resulting in a buffer over-read (CWE-126).
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