State synchronization error

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This is a Vulnerability. To view all vulnerabilities, please see the Vulnerability Category page.

Last revision (mm/dd/yy): 09/30/2008

Vulnerabilities Table of Contents

ASDR Table of Contents


State synchronization refers to a set of flaws involving contradictory states of execution in a process which result in undefined behavior.


  • Undefined: Depending on the nature of the state of corruption, any of the listed consequences may result.

Exposure period

  • Design: Design flaws may be to blame for out-of-sync states, but this is the rarest method.
  • Implementation: Most likely, state-synchronization errors occur due to logical flaws and race conditions introduced at implementation time.
  • Run time: Hardware, operating system, or interaction with other programs may lead to this error.


  • Languages: All
  • Operating platforms: All

Required resources




Likelihood of exploit

Medium to High

Risk Factors

  • Talk about the factors that make this vulnerability likely or unlikely to actually happen
  • Discuss the technical impact of a successful exploit of this vulnerability
  • Consider the likely [business impacts] of a successful attack


Short example name

A short example description, small picture, or sample code with links

Short example name

A short example description, small picture, or sample code with links

Related Attacks

Related Vulnerabilities

Related Controls

Related Technical Impacts


Note: A reference to related CWE or CAPEC article should be added when exists. Eg:


Avoidance and mitigation

  • Implementation: Pay attention to asynchronous actions in processes; and make copious use of sanity checks in systems that may be subject to synchronization errors.


The class of synchronization errors is large and varied, but all rely on the same essential flaw. The state of the system is not what the process expects it to be at a given time.

Obviously, the range of possible symptoms is enormous, as is the range of possible solutions. The flaws presented in this section are some of the most difficult to diagnose and fix. It is more important to know how to characterize specific flaws than to gain information about them.


In C/C++:

static void print(char * string) {
  char * word;
  int counter;
  for(word = string; counter = *word++; ) putc(counter, stdout);

int main(void) {
   pid_t pid;
   if( (pid = fork()) < 0) exit(-2);
   else if( pid == 0) print("child");
   else print("parent\n");

In Java:

class read{
  private int lcount;
  private int rcount;
  private int wcount;

  public void getRead(){
    while ((lcount == -1) || (wcount !=0));

  public void getWrite(){
    while ((lcount == -0);

  public void killLocks(){
    if (lcount==0) return;
    else if (lcount == -1) lcount++;
    else lcount--;

Related problems

Not available.