Helpers for clearing sensitive data on the stack and heap.
Some kinds of data should not be kept in memory any longer than they are needed. For instance, cryptographic keys and intermediate values should be erased as soon as they are no longer needed.
The Rust language helps prevent the accidental reading of leftover values on the stack or the heap; however, means outside the program (for instance a debugger, or even physical access to the hardware) can still read the leftover values. For long-lived processes, key material might be found in the memory long after it should have been discarded.
This crate provides two mechanisms to help minimize leftover data.
ClearOnDrop wrapper holds a mutable reference to sensitive
data (for instance, a cipher state), and clears the data when
dropped. While the mutable reference is held, the data cannot be
moved, so there won’t be leftovers due to moves; the wrapper itself
can be freely moved. Alternatively, it can hold data on the heap
Box<T>, or possibly a similar which allocates from a
clear_stack_on_return function calls a closure, and after it
returns, overwrites several kilobytes of the stack. This can help
overwrite temporary variables used by cryptographic algorithms, and
is especially relevant when running on a short-lived thread, since
the memory used for the thread stack cannot be easily overwritten
after the thread terminates.
If the compiler determines the data is not used after being cleared, it could elide the clearing code. Aditionally, the compiler could inline a called function and the stack clearing code, using separate areas of the stack for each. This crate has three mechanisms which prevent these unwanted optimizations, selected at compile time via cargo features.
The fastest mechanism uses inline assembly, which is only available
on nightly Rust. It is enabled through the
nightly feature, and
does not need a working C compiler.
The second mechanism, which is the default, uses a call to a dummy C function. It works on stable Rust, but needs a working C compiler.
The third mechanism is a fallback, which attempts to confuse the
optimizer through the use of atomic instructions. It should not be
used unless necessary, since it’s less reliable. It is enabled by
no_cc feature, works on stable Rust, and does not need a C
Traits to completely overwrite a value, without leaking data.
Zeroizes a storage location when dropped.