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The 'Viral' Secure Programming Language That's Taking Over Tech

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Rust is what's known as a “memory-safe” language because it's designed to make it impossible for a program to pull unintended data from a computer's memory accidentally.

Credit: Jacqui VanLiew

Whether you run IT for a massive organization or simply own a smartphone, you're intimately familiar with the unending stream of software updates that constantly need to be installed because of bugs and security vulnerabilities. People make mistakes, so code is inevitably going to contain mistakes—you get it. But a growing movement to write software in a language called Rust is gaining momentum because the code is goof-proof in an important way. By design, developers can't accidentally create the most common types of exploitable security vulnerabilities when they're coding in Rust, a distinction that could make a huge difference in the daily patch parade and ultimately the world's baseline cybersecurity.

There are fads in programming languages, and new ones come and go, often without lasting impact. Now 12 years old, Rust took time to mature from the side project of a Mozilla researcher into a robust ecosystem. Meanwhile, the predecessor language C, which is still widely used today, turned 50 this year. But because Rust produces more secure code and, crucially, doesn't worsen performance to do it, the language has been steadily gaining adherents and now is at a turning point. Microsoft, Google, and Amazon Web Services have all been utilizing Rust since 2019, and the three companies formed the nonprofit Rust Foundation with Mozilla and Huawei in 2020 to sustain and grow the language. And after a couple of years of intensive work, the Linux kernel took its first steps last month to implement Rust support.

From Wired
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Moshe Vardi


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