OWASP Periodic Table of Vulnerabilities - Format String

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Format String

Root Cause Summary

The root cause of the format string is attacker having the ability to control or write completely the format string used to format data input for some C,C++, and Assembly functions such as fprintf, printf, sprintf, setproctitle, and syslog, potentially leading to buffer overflows or data representation problems.

Browser / Standards Solution


Perimeter Solution

Alert and/or block on known format string signatures Generic Framework Solution Prohibit access to vulnerable APIs and provide safe wrappers of those APIs instead.

Custom Framework Solution


Custom Code Solution


Discussion / Controversy



OWASP - Format String

OWASP Format string attack

OWASP - Testing for Format String

WASC - Format String

CAPEC-339: WASC Threat Classification 2.0 - WASC-06 - Format String

CWE-134: Uncontrolled Format String