What is memory safety?
Memory safety, in computer science and software development, relates to the quality of a programming language or system. Memory safety guarantees that software cannot interact with or modify memory in ways that might result in memory-related errors or vulnerabilities. Memory safety plays an important role in maintaining the security and reliability of software applications.
Important elements of memory safety include (but are not limited to):
Preventing buffer overflows
Programming languages and runtime environments that prioritize memory safety stop buffer overflows. A buffer overflow is when a program writes data past the limits of a memory buffer (for example, an array), which can compromise data, crash programs, or even empower malicious actors to execute arbitrary code.
Getting rid of dangling pointers
Memory safety mechanisms remove dangling pointers (pointers that point to memory locations that have been deallocated or released).
Validating null pointers
Memory-safe languages commonly include checks to prevent null or uninitialized pointers from being dereferenced. Dereferencing null pointers can provoke program crashes and undefined behavior.