Home > Store

CERT® C Coding Standard, Second Edition, The: 98 Rules for Developing Safe, Reliable, and Secure Systems, 2nd Edition

Register your product to gain access to bonus material or receive a coupon.

CERT® C Coding Standard, Second Edition, The: 98 Rules for Developing Safe, Reliable, and Secure Systems, 2nd Edition

eBook (Watermarked)

  • Your Price: $38.39
  • List Price: $47.99
  • Includes EPUB and PDF
  • About eBook Formats
  • This eBook includes the following formats, accessible from your Account page after purchase:

    ePub EPUB The open industry format known for its reflowable content and usability on supported mobile devices.

    Adobe Reader PDF The popular standard, used most often with the free Adobe® Reader® software.

    This eBook requires no passwords or activation to read. We customize your eBook by discreetly watermarking it with your name, making it uniquely yours.


  • Copyright 2014
  • Pages: 576
  • Edition: 2nd
  • eBook (Watermarked)
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-380538-7
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-380538-3

“At Cisco, we have adopted the CERT C Coding Standard as the internal secure coding standard for all C developers. It is a core component of our secure development lifecycle. The coding standard described in this book breaks down complex software security topics into easy-to-follow rules with excellent real-world examples. It is an essential reference for any developer who wishes to write secure and resilient software in C and C++.”
—Edward D. Paradise, vice president, engineering, threat response, intelligence, and development, Cisco Systems

Secure programming in C can be more difficult than even many experienced programmers realize. To help programmers write more secure code, The CERT® C Coding Standard, Second Edition, fully documents the second official release of the CERT standard for secure coding in C. The rules laid forth in this new edition will help ensure that programmers’ code fully complies with the new C11 standard; it also addresses earlier versions, including C99.

The new standard itemizes those coding errors that are the root causes of current software vulnerabilities in C, prioritizing them by severity, likelihood of exploitation, and remediation costs. Each of the text’s 98 guidelines includes examples of insecure code as well as secure, C11-conforming, alternative implementations. If uniformly applied, these guidelines will eliminate critical coding errors that lead to buffer overflows, format-string vulnerabilities, integer overflow, and other common vulnerabilities.

This book reflects numerous experts’ contributions to the open development and review of the rules and recommendations that comprise this standard.

Coverage includes

  • Preprocessor
  • Declarations and Initialization
  • Expressions
  • Integers
  • Floating Point
  • Arrays
  • Characters and Strings
  • Memory Management
  • Input/Output
  • Environment
  • Signals
  • Error Handling
  • Concurrency
  • Miscellaneous Issues

Sample Content

Table of Contents

Preface xiii
Acknowledgments xxxvii
Contributors xxxix
About the Author xliii


Chapter 1: Preprocessor (PRE) 1
PRE30-C. Do not create a universal character name through concatenation 2
PRE31-C. Avoid side effects in arguments to unsafe macros 3
PRE32-C. Do not use preprocessor directives in invocations of function-like macros 8

Chapter 2: Declarations and Initialization (DCL) 11
DCL30-C. Declare objects with appropriate storage durations 12
DCL31-C. Declare identifiers before using them 16
DCL36-C. Do not declare an identifier with conflicting linkage classifications 20
DCL37-C. Do not declare or define a reserved identifier 23
DCL38-C. Use the correct syntax when declaring a flexible array member 29
DCL39-C. Avoid information leakage in structure padding 32
DCL40-C. Do not create incompatible declarations of the same function or object 37
DCL41-C. Do not declare variables inside a switch statement before the first case label 43

Chapter 3: Expressions (EXP) 47
EXP30-C. Do not depend on the order of evaluation for side effects 48
EXP32-C. Do not access a volatile object through a nonvolatile reference 54
EXP33-C. Do not read uninitialized memory 56
EXP34-C. Do not dereference null pointers 65
EXP35-C. Do not modify objects with temporary lifetime 70
EXP36-C. Do not cast pointers into more strictly aligned pointer types 73
EXP37-C. Call functions with the correct number and type of arguments 77
EXP39-C. Do not access a variable through a pointer of an incompatible type 83
EXP40-C. Do not modify constant objects 89
EXP42-C. Do not compare padding data 91
EXP43-C. Avoid undefined behavior when using restrict-qualified pointers 93
EXP44-C. Do not rely on side effects in operands to sizeof, _Alignof, or _Generic 102
EXP45-C. Do not perform assignments in selection statements 105

Chapter 4: Integers (INT) 111
INT30-C. Ensure that unsigned integer operations do not wrap 112
INT31-C. Ensure that integer conversions do not result in lost or misinterpreted data 118
INT32-C. Ensure that operations on signed integers do not result in overflow 126
INT33-C. Ensure that division and remainder operations do not result in divide-by-zero errors 135
INT34-C. Do not shift an expression by a negative number of bits or by greater than or equal to the number of bits that exist in the operand 138
INT35-C. Use correct integer precisions 143
INT36-C. Converting a pointer to integer or integer to pointer 145

Chapter 5: Floating Point (FLP) 151
FLP30-C. Do not use floating-point variables as loop counters 152
FLP32-C. Prevent or detect domain and range errors in math functions 154
FLP34-C. Ensure that floating-point conversions are within range of the new type 163
FLP36-C. Preserve precision when converting integral values to floating-point type 166

Chapter 6: Arrays (ARR) 169
ARR30-C. Do not form or use out-of-bounds pointers or array subscripts 170
ARR32-C. Ensure size arguments for variable length arrays are in a valid range 180
ARR36-C. Do not subtract or compare two pointers that do not refer to the same array 182
ARR37-C. Do not add or subtract an integer to a pointer to a non-array object 184
ARR38-C. Guarantee that library functions do not form invalid pointers 187
ARR39-C. Do not add or subtract a scaled integer to a pointer 196

Chapter 7: Characters and Strings (STR) 201
STR30-C. Do not attempt to modify string literals 202
STR31-C. Guarantee that storage for strings has sufficient space for character data and the null terminator 205
STR32-C. Do not pass a non-null-terminated character sequence to a library function that expects a string 218
STR34-C. Cast characters to unsigned char before converting to larger integer sizes 223
STR37-C. Arguments to character handling functions must be representable as an unsigned char 227
STR38-C. Do not confuse narrow and wide character strings and functions 229

Chapter 8: Memory Management (MEM) 233
MEM30-C. Do not access freed memory 234
MEM31-C. Free dynamically allocated memory when no longer needed 239
MEM33-C. Allocate and copy structures containing a flexible array member dynamically 241
MEM34-C. Only free memory allocated dynamically 246
MEM35-C. Allocate sufficient memory for an object 250
MEM36-C. Do not modify the alignment of objects by calling realloc() 253

Chapter 9: Input/Output (FIO) 257
FIO30-C. Exclude user input from format strings 258
FIO31-C. Do not open a file that is already open 263
FIO32-C. Do not perform operations on devices that are only appropriate for files 265
FIO34-C. Distinguish between characters read from a file and EOF or WEOF 272
FIO37-C. Do not assume that fgets() or fgetws() returns a nonempty string when successful 277
FIO38-C. Do not copy a FILE object 279
FIO39-C. Do not alternately input and output from a stream without an intervening flush or positioning call 280
FIO40-C. Reset strings on fgets() or fgetws() failure 283
FIO41-C. Do not call getc(), putc(), getwc(), or putwc() with a stream argument that has side effects 284
FIO42-C. Close files when they are no longer needed 288
FIO44-C. Only use values for fsetpos() that are returned from fgetpos() 292
FIO45-C. Avoid TOCTOU race conditions while accessing files 294
FIO46-C. Do not access a closed file 298
FIO47-C. Use valid format strings 299

Chapter 10: Environment (ENV) 305
ENV30-C. Do not modify the object referenced by the return value of certain functions 306
ENV31-C. Do not rely on an environment pointer following an operation that may invalidate it 311
ENV32-C. All exit handlers must return normally 315
ENV33-C. Do not call system() 319
ENV34-C. Do not store pointers returned by certain functions 325

Chapter 11: Signals (SIG) 333
SIG30-C. Call only asynchronous-safe functions within signal handlers 334
SIG31-C. Do not access shared objects in signal handlers 342
SIG34-C. Do not call signal() from within interruptible signal handlers 345
SIG35-C. Do not return from a computational exception signal handler 349

Chapter 12: Error Handling (ERR) 353
ERR30-C. Set errno to zero before calling a library function known to set errno, and check errno only after the function returns a value indicating failure 354
ERR32-C. Do not rely on indeterminate values of errno 361
ERR33-C. Detect and handle standard library errors 365

Chapter 13: Concurrency (CON) 383
CON30-C. Clean up thread-specific storage 384
CON31-C. Do not destroy a mutex while it is locked 388
CON32-C. Prevent data races when accessing bit-fields from multiple threads 391
CON33-C. Avoid race conditions when using library functions 394
CON34-C. Declare objects shared between threads with appropriate storage durations 398
CON35-C. Avoid deadlock by locking in a predefined order 406
CON36-C. Wrap functions that can spuriously wake up in a loop 411
CON37-C. Do not call signal() in a multithreaded program 414
CON38-C. Preserve thread-safety and liveness when using condition variables 416
CON39-C. Do not join or detach a thread that was previously joined or detached 424
CON40-C. Do not refer to an atomic variable twice in an expression 426
CON41-C. Wrap functions that can fail spuriously in a loop 430

Chapter 14: Miscellaneous (MSC) 435
MSC30-C. Do not use the rand() function for generating pseudorandom numbers 436
MSC32-C. Properly seed pseudorandom number generators 439
MSC33-C. Do not pass invalid data to the asctime() function 443
MSC37-C. Ensure that control never reaches the end of a non-void function 446
MSC38-C. Do not treat a predefined identifier as an object if it might only be implemented as a macro 449
MSC39-C. Do not call va_arg() on a va_list that has an indeterminate value 451
MSC40-C. Do not violate constraints 453

Appendix A: Glossary 459

Appendix B: Undefined Behavior 465

Appendix C: Unspecified Behavior 481


Bibliography 487
Index 495


Submit Errata

More Information

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020