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As soon as you need to be able to access low-level pointers for performance, you run into a problem: you can easily end up holding onto a reference to memory that's been cleared, or otherwise invalidated, by some other piece of code. This type of bug is insidious, and can easily be missed by the most stringent unit tests and even fuzzing. Of course you can try to get around this with abstractions on top, as every higher-level language does, and as you can do in C++ if you're willing to build reference-counted pointers around absolutely everything... but these are not zero-cost abstractions.

What Rust does is track reference lifetimes at compile time, giving you certainty about who can safely "own" or "borrow" memory in every single line of code, without any runtime pointer indirections or other slowdowns. The language is built around this feature at every level, with "lifetimes" being a syntactic construct at the level of type and mutability.

Imagine if you wanted to safely parse user-submitted JSON, maybe cache derived products from that JSON, and then make sure that when the input buffer is released, you weren't holding any handles into strings inside it. The only safe way to do that in any other language is to proactively copy the strings, or rigorously reference-count the input buffer. But Rust has your back here. If you use zero-copy deserialization from Serde ( https://github.com/serde-rs/serde/releases/tag/v1.0.0 ) then the compiler will refuse to compile if you are using any of that data longer than the lifetime of the original buffer, and do so without needing to add any runtime bookkeeping.

Yes, it's an annoying language to learn because of that "fight with the borrow checker." I LOVE that the language designers and steering committee are so open to quality-of-life improvements for newbies, like that string warning. The language will only get easier to learn over time. It may never be what you use to make your next app, but if you're doing systems programming, it's the wave of the future.




So, I recently saw a study claiming that memory management-related issues constituted 25% of attacks, the rest was other vectors. I may be misremembering, but in any case, simply getting rid of memory faults does not get rid of all attack vectors.

Given this, I wonder if the (seemingly) added complexity of Rust could result in more attack surfaces of other kinds.

I don't know anything about Rust mind you.




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