GopherCon 2016
Go Fuzz

Contributed by   2015-12-05

In April of this year, Dmitry Vyukov released the first version of go-fuzz, a coverage-guided fuzz testing tool based on ideas from afl. With very little fanfare, he unleashed it on the Go standard library and started filing huge numbers of crashers and other bugs found via automated, randomized testing.

Fuzzing is testing code by feeding it random data. It dates back to to Professor Barton Miller’s work in late 1980s. In the 2000s, it was picked up by the security community, because it turned out that many of these crashes could be turned into code exploits. Coverage-guided fuzzing, like afl and go-fuzz do, use information gathered at run-time about which code paths were executed to determine if a random input was “interesting” and should be used as the seed for further random tests.

Any program dealing with user input should use fuzz testing to make sure it can deal with unexpected inputs gracefully. It’s especially suited to packages like file formats, serialization routines, and compression algorithms.

But even with the great success go-fuzz was having in finding issues in the Go standard library (probably some of the best tested and well reviewed Go code in existence), it seemed few other people were using it in their own projects.

At the beginning of July, Dmitry presented go-fuzz at Gophercon.

Leading up to the release Go 1.5, I launched a fuzz-a-thon. The idea was simple: Dmitry is doing his best to make the Go standard library robust. We, the community, need to do the same for our own packages. I tweeted every day reasons to use go-fuzz.

At the beginning of August, Filippo Valsorda posted an excellent account of using go-fuzz at CloudFlare. Filippo’s post (and his talk at GothamGo detailed other ways to use go-fuzz for randomized tests, not only to find inputs that make your program crash.

A few weeks later, I published my own simple walk-through of fuzzing and patching a simple file format library.

People are beginning to use it. More and more packages include fuzz tests. The go-fuzz trophy case contains almost 400 bugs.

Please fuzz your own code.

This is a post in the Advent 2015 series.
Other posts in this series:

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