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A secure programming language that can help prevent buffer overflows?

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January 25, 2016

It appears that the latest release of Rust, a supposedly secure systems programming language which will hopefully help prevent such nasty things as buffer overflows, will most likely feature a stabilized core library which should encourage developers' confidence in adopting it.

To be sure, Rust isn't new-- it was originally developed by Graydon Hoare, who began working on the language about ten years ago while at The Mozilla Foundation.

The project was subsequently adopted by Mozilla Research which continues to sponsor it and use the language in developing Servo, its experimental new internet browser engine.

Hoare stepped aside three years ago and was succeeded by Brian Anderson, who oversaw the first stable version of Rust version 1.0.0 in May of last year.

So far, one of the best feature of the 1.6 release is the stabilized libcore which should increase developers' confidence in choosing the programming language.

Here's how Rust works-- it utilizes a two-tier standard library in which libcore is a completely platform agnostic library which requires only a handful of external symbols to be defined, while libstd builds atop it to support memory allocation, I/O, and concurrency.

Rust's release announcement said: ``Libcore is a major step towards being able to write the lowest levels of software. But naturally, there’s still future work to be done.

This will allow for a library ecosystem to develop around libcore, but applications are not fully supported yet. Expect to hear more about this in future release notes.

About thirty library functions and various methods have been declared stable in the 1.6 release, which featured 132 individual contributors.

Rust is very much still in beta but its relatively rapid three-branch release cycle is encouraging the development community.

"The fact that Rust continues to mature is very exciting," said Ivan Ristic, software engineer and founder of SSL Labs.

"One of the biggest reasons we're struggling with computer security today is that our tools are too primitive and very fragile," said Ristic. "Most components of our infrastructure are written in low level languages such as C. Having been tortured by C during my years of wiring security-critical software, I don't think I exaggerate when I compare programming in it with walking through a minefield."

Ristic asserted-- "With Rust, many of the various security issues simply go away by design. At the same time, software written in it is compatible with existing software written in C. What this means is that we can start to slowly migrate to Rust and significantly improve our security as a result."

Source: SSL Labs Inc.

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