CA2006: Use SafeHandle to encapsulate native resources


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Item Value
TypeName UseSafeHandleToEncapsulateNativeResources
CheckId CA2006
Category Microsoft.Reliability
Breaking Change Non-breaking


Managed code uses IntPtr to access native resources.

Rule Description

Use of IntPtr in managed code might indicate a potential security and reliability problem. All uses of IntPtr must be reviewed to determine whether the use of a SafeHandle , or a similar technology, is required in its place. Problems will occur if the IntPtr represents some native resource, such as memory, a file handle, or a socket, that the managed code is considered to own. If the managed code owns the resource, it must also release the native resources associated with it, because a failure to do so would cause resource leakage.

In such scenarios, security or reliability problems will also exist if multithreaded access is allowed to the IntPtr and a way of releasing the resource that is represented by the IntPtr is provided. These problems involve recycling of the IntPtr value on resource release while simultaneous use of the resource is being made on another thread. This can cause race conditions where one thread can read or write data that is associated with the wrong resource. For example, if your type stores an OS handle as an IntPtr and allows users to call both Close and any other method that uses that handle simultaneously and without some kind of synchronization, your code has a handle recycling problem.

This handle recycling problem can cause data corruption and, frequently, a security vulnerability. SafeHandle and its sibling class CriticalHandle provide a mechanism to encapsulate a native handle to a resource so that such threading problems can be avoided. Additionally, you can use SafeHandle and its sibling class CriticalHandle for other threading issues, for example, to carefully control the lifetime of managed objects that contain a copy of the native handle over calls to native methods. In this situation, you can often remove calls to GC.KeepAlive. The performance overhead thay you incur when you use SafeHandle and, to a lesser degree, CriticalHandle, can frequently be reduced through careful design.

How to Fix Violations

Convert IntPtr usage to SafeHandle to safely manage access to native resources. See the SafeHandle reference topic for examples.

When to Suppress Warnings

You should not suppress this warning.

See Also