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doc: describe why new Buffer() is problematic

Existing docs weren't clear on the actual problem. In addition, the text
described 8.0.0 as being a future Node.js release, so adjust language
to reflect that 8.0.0 is in the past (while not losing important
information about what the pre-8.x behaviour was).

PR-URL: #28825
Reviewed-By: Michael Dawson <michael_dawson@ca.ibm.com>
Reviewed-By: Rich Trott <rtrott@gmail.com>
Reviewed-By: Сковорода Никита Андреевич <chalkerx@gmail.com>
Reviewed-By: Luigi Pinca <luigipinca@gmail.com>
Reviewed-By: Jeremiah Senkpiel <fishrock123@rocketmail.com>
Reviewed-By: Trivikram Kamat <trivikr.dev@gmail.com>
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sam-github authored and targos committed Jul 23, 2019
1 parent 727ffe4 commit 881e345e0c50073deb40831ad33178084d272829
Showing with 19 additions and 4 deletions.
  1. +19 −4 doc/api/buffer.md
@@ -59,8 +59,8 @@ differently based on what arguments are provided:
entire `Buffer`. While this behavior is *intentional* to improve performance,
development experience has demonstrated that a more explicit distinction is
required between creating a fast-but-uninitialized `Buffer` versus creating a
slower-but-safer `Buffer`. Starting in Node.js 8.0.0, `Buffer(num)` and
`new Buffer(num)` will return a `Buffer` with initialized memory.
slower-but-safer `Buffer`. Since Node.js 8.0.0, `Buffer(num)` and `new
Buffer(num)` return a `Buffer` with initialized memory.
* Passing a string, array, or `Buffer` as the first argument copies the
passed object's data into the `Buffer`.
* Passing an [`ArrayBuffer`][] or a [`SharedArrayBuffer`][] returns a `Buffer`
@@ -71,6 +71,19 @@ first argument, security and reliability issues can be inadvertently introduced
into applications when argument validation or `Buffer` initialization is not
performed.

For example, if an attacker can cause an application to receive a number where
a string is expected, the application may call `new Buffer(100)`
instead of `new Buffer("100")`, it will allocate a 100 byte buffer instead
of allocating a 3 byte buffer with content `"100"`. This is commonly possible
using JSON API calls. Since JSON distinguishes between numeric and string types,
it allows injection of numbers where a naive application might expect to always
receive a string. Before Node.js 8.0.0, the 100 byte buffer might contain
arbitrary pre-existing in-memory data, so may be used to expose in-memory
secrets to a remote attacker. Since Node.js 8.0.0, exposure of memory cannot
occur because the data is zero-filled. However, other attacks are still
possible, such as causing very large buffers to be allocated by the server,
leading to performance degradation or crashing on memory exhaustion.

To make the creation of `Buffer` instances more reliable and less error-prone,
the various forms of the `new Buffer()` constructor have been **deprecated**
and replaced by separate `Buffer.from()`, [`Buffer.alloc()`][], and
@@ -92,7 +105,7 @@ to one of these new APIs.*
initialized `Buffer` of the specified size. This method is slower than
[`Buffer.allocUnsafe(size)`][`Buffer.allocUnsafe()`] but guarantees that newly
created `Buffer` instances never contain old data that is potentially
sensitive.
sensitive. A `TypeError` will be thrown if `size` is not a number.
* [`Buffer.allocUnsafe(size)`][`Buffer.allocUnsafe()`] and
[`Buffer.allocUnsafeSlow(size)`][`Buffer.allocUnsafeSlow()`] each return a
new uninitialized `Buffer` of the specified `size`. Because the `Buffer` is
@@ -111,7 +124,9 @@ added: v5.10.0

Node.js can be started using the `--zero-fill-buffers` command line option to
cause all newly allocated `Buffer` instances to be zero-filled upon creation by
default, including buffers returned by `new Buffer(size)`,
default. Before Node.js 8.0.0, this included buffers allocated by `new
Buffer(size)`. Since Node.js 8.0.0, buffers allocated with `new` are always
zero-filled, whether this option is used or not.
[`Buffer.allocUnsafe()`][], [`Buffer.allocUnsafeSlow()`][], and `new
SlowBuffer(size)`. Use of this flag can have a significant negative impact on
performance. Use of the `--zero-fill-buffers` option is recommended only when

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