Secure programming is slow - really?

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Performance is important in many programs: web servers, network applications, intrusion detection systems, etc. In these programs, C is a usual choice as the programming language: it is close to the hardware, and very fast. However, it is very hard to make the program secure, and this results in many vulnerabilities.

This talk is about why and how use rust to achieve both performance and security by creating a “safe zone” in a C program. We first look at the good code patterns to produce efficient code, and the limits of this approach. We then go through the optimization of the code to gain more performance, and check that doing so we do not remove any important check.

We can use Kerberos as an example, since it is based on ASN.1/DER, which is both difficult to manipulate, and very error-prone: all objects are Type-Length-Value (TLV), so a C parser has to manipulate recursive objects with pointers and lengths everywhere. DER parsers are regular clients for CVEs.

Keywords: performance, security, rust, assembly

Note: we take the parsers in Suricata as an example of such code. However, this talk is not related to Suricata, but more about the source code, the compiler and the produced code. 

Pierre Chifflier 
Pierre is the head of the intrusion detection research lab (LED) at ANSSI. He is interested in various security topics such as Operating Systems, compilers, programming languages, and new intrusion detection methods. He is also a Debian developer and has been involved in free software since a long time.