CA2302: Ensure BinaryFormatter.Binder is set before calling BinaryFormatter.Deserialize

Value
Rule ID CA2302
Category Security
Fix is breaking or non-breaking Non-breaking

Cause

A System.Runtime.Serialization.Formatters.Binary.BinaryFormatter deserialization method was called or referenced and the Binder property may be null.

This rule is similar to CA2301, but analysis can't determine if the Binder is definitely null.

By default, this rule analyzes the entire codebase, but this is configurable.

Warning

Restricting types with a SerializationBinder can't prevent all attacks. For more information, see the BinaryFormatter security guide.

Rule description

Insecure deserializers are vulnerable when deserializing untrusted data. An attacker could modify the serialized data to include unexpected types to inject objects with malicious side effects. An attack against an insecure deserializer could, for example, execute commands on the underlying operating system, communicate over the network, or delete files.

This rule finds System.Runtime.Serialization.Formatters.Binary.BinaryFormatter deserialization method calls or references when the Binder might be null. If you want to disallow any deserialization with BinaryFormatter regardless of the Binder property, disable this rule and CA2301, and enable rule CA2300.

How to fix violations

  • Use a secure serializer instead, and don't allow an attacker to specify an arbitrary type to deserialize. For more information see the Preferred alternatives.
  • Make the serialized data tamper-proof. After serialization, cryptographically sign the serialized data. Before deserialization, validate the cryptographic signature. Protect the cryptographic key from being disclosed and design for key rotations.
  • This option makes code vulnerable to denial of service attacks and possible remote code execution attacks in the future. For more information, see the BinaryFormatter security guide. Restrict deserialized types. Implement a custom System.Runtime.Serialization.SerializationBinder. Before deserializing, set the Binder property to an instance of your custom SerializationBinder in all code paths. In the overridden BindToType method, if the type is unexpected, throw an exception to stop deserialization.

When to suppress warnings

BinaryFormatter is insecure and can't be made secure.

Configure code to analyze

Use the following options to configure which parts of your codebase to run this rule on.

You can configure these options for just this rule, for all rules, or for all rules in this category (Security). For more information, see Code quality rule configuration options.

Exclude specific symbols

You can exclude specific symbols, such as types and methods, from analysis. For example, to specify that the rule should not run on any code within types named MyType, add the following key-value pair to an .editorconfig file in your project:

dotnet_code_quality.CAXXXX.excluded_symbol_names = MyType

Allowed symbol name formats in the option value (separated by |):

  • Symbol name only (includes all symbols with the name, regardless of the containing type or namespace).
  • Fully qualified names in the symbol's documentation ID format. Each symbol name requires a symbol-kind prefix, such as M: for methods, T: for types, and N: for namespaces.
  • .ctor for constructors and .cctor for static constructors.

Examples:

Option Value Summary
dotnet_code_quality.CAXXXX.excluded_symbol_names = MyType Matches all symbols named MyType.
dotnet_code_quality.CAXXXX.excluded_symbol_names = MyType1|MyType2 Matches all symbols named either MyType1 or MyType2.
dotnet_code_quality.CAXXXX.excluded_symbol_names = M:NS.MyType.MyMethod(ParamType) Matches specific method MyMethod with the specified fully qualified signature.
dotnet_code_quality.CAXXXX.excluded_symbol_names = M:NS1.MyType1.MyMethod1(ParamType)|M:NS2.MyType2.MyMethod2(ParamType) Matches specific methods MyMethod1 and MyMethod2 with the respective fully qualified signatures.

Exclude specific types and their derived types

You can exclude specific types and their derived types from analysis. For example, to specify that the rule should not run on any methods within types named MyType and their derived types, add the following key-value pair to an .editorconfig file in your project:

dotnet_code_quality.CAXXXX.excluded_type_names_with_derived_types = MyType

Allowed symbol name formats in the option value (separated by |):

  • Type name only (includes all types with the name, regardless of the containing type or namespace).
  • Fully qualified names in the symbol's documentation ID format, with an optional T: prefix.

Examples:

Option Value Summary
dotnet_code_quality.CAXXXX.excluded_type_names_with_derived_types = MyType Matches all types named MyType and all of their derived types.
dotnet_code_quality.CAXXXX.excluded_type_names_with_derived_types = MyType1|MyType2 Matches all types named either MyType1 or MyType2 and all of their derived types.
dotnet_code_quality.CAXXXX.excluded_type_names_with_derived_types = M:NS.MyType Matches specific type MyType with given fully qualified name and all of its derived types.
dotnet_code_quality.CAXXXX.excluded_type_names_with_derived_types = M:NS1.MyType1|M:NS2.MyType2 Matches specific types MyType1 and MyType2 with the respective fully qualified names, and all of their derived types.

Pseudo-code examples

Violation 1

using System;
using System.IO;
using System.Runtime.Serialization;
using System.Runtime.Serialization.Formatters.Binary;

public class BookRecordSerializationBinder : SerializationBinder
{
    public override Type BindToType(string assemblyName, string typeName)
    {
        // One way to discover expected types is through testing deserialization
        // of **valid** data and logging the types used.

        ////Console.WriteLine($"BindToType('{assemblyName}', '{typeName}')");

        if (typeName == "BookRecord" || typeName == "AisleLocation")
        {
            return null;
        }
        else
        {
            throw new ArgumentException("Unexpected type", nameof(typeName));
        }
    }
}

[Serializable]
public class BookRecord
{
    public string Title { get; set; }
    public AisleLocation Location { get; set; }
}

[Serializable]
public class AisleLocation
{
    public char Aisle { get; set; }
    public byte Shelf { get; set; }
}

public class Binders
{
    public static SerializationBinder BookRecord =
        new BookRecordSerializationBinder();
}

public class ExampleClass
{
    public BookRecord DeserializeBookRecord(byte[] bytes)
    {
        BinaryFormatter formatter = new BinaryFormatter();
        formatter.Binder = Binders.BookRecord;
        using (MemoryStream ms = new MemoryStream(bytes))
        {
            return (BookRecord)formatter.Deserialize(ms);    // CA2302 violation
        }
    }
}
Imports System
Imports System.IO
Imports System.Runtime.Serialization
Imports System.Runtime.Serialization.Formatters.Binary

Public Class BookRecordSerializationBinder
    Inherits SerializationBinder

    Public Overrides Function BindToType(assemblyName As String, typeName As String) As Type
        ' One way to discover expected types is through testing deserialization
        ' of **valid** data and logging the types used.

        'Console.WriteLine($"BindToType('{assemblyName}', '{typeName}')")

        If typeName = "BinaryFormatterVB.BookRecord" Or typeName = "BinaryFormatterVB.AisleLocation" Then
            Return Nothing
        Else
            Throw New ArgumentException("Unexpected type", NameOf(typeName))
        End If
    End Function
End Class

<Serializable()>
Public Class BookRecord
    Public Property Title As String
    Public Property Location As AisleLocation
End Class

<Serializable()>
Public Class AisleLocation
    Public Property Aisle As Char
    Public Property Shelf As Byte
End Class

Public Class Binders
    Public Shared Property BookRecord As SerializationBinder = New BookRecordSerializationBinder()
End Class

Public Class ExampleClass
    Public Function DeserializeBookRecord(bytes As Byte()) As BookRecord
        Dim formatter As BinaryFormatter = New BinaryFormatter()
        formatter.Binder = Binders.BookRecord
        Using ms As MemoryStream = New MemoryStream(bytes)
            Return CType(formatter.Deserialize(ms), BookRecord)    ' CA2302 violation
        End Using
    End Function
End Class

Solution 1

using System;
using System.IO;
using System.Runtime.Serialization;
using System.Runtime.Serialization.Formatters.Binary;

public class BookRecordSerializationBinder : SerializationBinder
{
    public override Type BindToType(string assemblyName, string typeName)
    {
        // One way to discover expected types is through testing deserialization
        // of **valid** data and logging the types used.

        ////Console.WriteLine($"BindToType('{assemblyName}', '{typeName}')");

        if (typeName == "BookRecord" || typeName == "AisleLocation")
        {
            return null;
        }
        else
        {
            throw new ArgumentException("Unexpected type", nameof(typeName));
        }
    }
}

[Serializable]
public class BookRecord
{
    public string Title { get; set; }
    public AisleLocation Location { get; set; }
}

[Serializable]
public class AisleLocation
{
    public char Aisle { get; set; }
    public byte Shelf { get; set; }
}

public class Binders
{
    public static SerializationBinder BookRecord =
        new BookRecordSerializationBinder();
}

public class ExampleClass
{
    public BookRecord DeserializeBookRecord(byte[] bytes)
    {
        BinaryFormatter formatter = new BinaryFormatter();

        // Ensure that Binder is always non-null before deserializing
        formatter.Binder = Binders.BookRecord ?? throw new Exception("Expected non-null binder");

        using (MemoryStream ms = new MemoryStream(bytes))
        {
            return (BookRecord)formatter.Deserialize(ms);
        }
    }
}
Imports System
Imports System.IO
Imports System.Runtime.Serialization
Imports System.Runtime.Serialization.Formatters.Binary

Public Class BookRecordSerializationBinder
    Inherits SerializationBinder

    Public Overrides Function BindToType(assemblyName As String, typeName As String) As Type
        ' One way to discover expected types is through testing deserialization
        ' of **valid** data and logging the types used.

        'Console.WriteLine($"BindToType('{assemblyName}', '{typeName}')")

        If typeName = "BinaryFormatterVB.BookRecord" Or typeName = "BinaryFormatterVB.AisleLocation" Then
            Return Nothing
        Else
            Throw New ArgumentException("Unexpected type", NameOf(typeName))
        End If
    End Function
End Class

<Serializable()>
Public Class BookRecord
    Public Property Title As String
    Public Property Location As AisleLocation
End Class

<Serializable()>
Public Class AisleLocation
    Public Property Aisle As Char
    Public Property Shelf As Byte
End Class

Public Class Binders
    Public Shared Property BookRecord As SerializationBinder = New BookRecordSerializationBinder()
End Class

Public Class ExampleClass
    Public Function DeserializeBookRecord(bytes As Byte()) As BookRecord
        Dim formatter As BinaryFormatter = New BinaryFormatter()

        ' Ensure that Binder is always non-null before deserializing
        formatter.Binder = If(Binders.BookRecord, New Exception("Expected non-null"))

        Using ms As MemoryStream = New MemoryStream(bytes)
            Return CType(formatter.Deserialize(ms), BookRecord)
        End Using
    End Function
End Class

Violation 2

using System;
using System.IO;
using System.Runtime.Serialization.Formatters.Binary;

[Serializable]
public class BookRecord
{
    public string Title { get; set; }
    public AisleLocation Location { get; set; }
}

[Serializable]
public class AisleLocation
{
    public char Aisle { get; set; }
    public byte Shelf { get; set; }
}

public class ExampleClass
{
    public BinaryFormatter Formatter { get; set; }

    public BookRecord DeserializeBookRecord(byte[] bytes)
    {
        using (MemoryStream ms = new MemoryStream(bytes))
        {
            return (BookRecord) this.Formatter.Deserialize(ms);    // CA2302 violation
        }
    }
}
Imports System
Imports System.IO
Imports System.Runtime.Serialization.Formatters.Binary

<Serializable()>
Public Class BookRecord
    Public Property Title As String
    Public Property Location As AisleLocation
End Class

<Serializable()>
Public Class AisleLocation
    Public Property Aisle As Char
    Public Property Shelf As Byte
End Class

Public Class ExampleClass
    Public Property Formatter As BinaryFormatter

    Public Function DeserializeBookRecord(bytes As Byte()) As BookRecord
        Using ms As MemoryStream = New MemoryStream(bytes)
            Return CType(Me.Formatter.Deserialize(ms), BookRecord)    ' CA2302 violation
        End Using
    End Function
End Class

Solution 2

using System;
using System.IO;
using System.Runtime.Serialization;
using System.Runtime.Serialization.Formatters.Binary;

public class BookRecordSerializationBinder : SerializationBinder
{
    public override Type BindToType(string assemblyName, string typeName)
    {
        // One way to discover expected types is through testing deserialization
        // of **valid** data and logging the types used.

        ////Console.WriteLine($"BindToType('{assemblyName}', '{typeName}')");

        if (typeName == "BookRecord" || typeName == "AisleLocation")
        {
            return null;
        }
        else
        {
            throw new ArgumentException("Unexpected type", nameof(typeName));
        }
    }
}

[Serializable]
public class BookRecord
{
    public string Title { get; set; }
    public AisleLocation Location { get; set; }
}

[Serializable]
public class AisleLocation
{
    public char Aisle { get; set; }
    public byte Shelf { get; set; }
}

public class ExampleClass
{
    public BookRecord DeserializeBookRecord(byte[] bytes)
    {
        BinaryFormatter formatter = new BinaryFormatter();
        formatter.Binder = new BookRecordSerializationBinder();
        using (MemoryStream ms = new MemoryStream(bytes))
        {
            return (BookRecord) formatter.Deserialize(ms);
        }
    }
}
Imports System
Imports System.IO
Imports System.Runtime.Serialization
Imports System.Runtime.Serialization.Formatters.Binary

Public Class BookRecordSerializationBinder
    Inherits SerializationBinder

    Public Overrides Function BindToType(assemblyName As String, typeName As String) As Type
        ' One way to discover expected types is through testing deserialization
        ' of **valid** data and logging the types used.

        'Console.WriteLine($"BindToType('{assemblyName}', '{typeName}')")

        If typeName = "BinaryFormatterVB.BookRecord" Or typeName = "BinaryFormatterVB.AisleLocation" Then
            Return Nothing
        Else
            Throw New ArgumentException("Unexpected type", NameOf(typeName))
        End If
    End Function
End Class

<Serializable()>
Public Class BookRecord
    Public Property Title As String
    Public Property Location As AisleLocation
End Class

<Serializable()>
Public Class AisleLocation
    Public Property Aisle As Char
    Public Property Shelf As Byte
End Class

Public Class ExampleClass
    Public Function DeserializeBookRecord(bytes As Byte()) As BookRecord
        Dim formatter As BinaryFormatter = New BinaryFormatter()
        formatter.Binder = New BookRecordSerializationBinder()
        Using ms As MemoryStream = New MemoryStream(bytes)
            Return CType(formatter.Deserialize(ms), BookRecord)
        End Using
    End Function
End Class