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Ryan Wagner, Matthew Fredrikson, David Garlan.  2017.  An Advanced Persistent Threat Exemplar.

Security researchers do not have sufficient example systems for conducting research on advanced persistent threats, and companies and agencies that experience attacks in the wild are reluctant to release detailed information that can be examined. In this paper, we describe an Advanced Persistent Threat Exemplar that is intended to provide a real-world attack scenario with sufficient complexity for reasoning about defensive system adaptation, while not containing so much information as to be too complex. It draws from actual published attacks and experiences as a security engineer by the authors.

Rui Shu, Xiaohui Gu, William Enck.  2017.  A Study of Security Vulnerabilities on Docker Hub. Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Data and Application Security and Privacy (CODASPY).

Docker containers have recently become a popular approach to provision multiple applications over shared physical hosts in a more lightweight fashion than traditional virtual machines. This popularity has led to the creation of the Docker Hub registry, which distributes a large number of official and community images. In this paper, we study the state of security vulnerabilities in Docker Hub images. We create a scalable Docker image vulnerability analysis (DIVA) framework that automatically discovers, downloads, and analyzes both official and community images on Docker Hub. Using our framework, we have studied 356,218 images and made the following findings: (1) both official and community images contain more than 180 vulnerabilities on average when considering all versions; (2) many images have not been updated for hundreds of days; and (3) vulnerabilities commonly propagate from parent images to child images. These findings demonstrate a strong need for more automated and systematic methods of applying security updates to Docker images and our current Docker image analysis framework provides a good foundation for such automatic security update.

Rui Shu, Xiaohui Gu, William Enck.  2017.  A Study of Security Vulnerabilities on Docker Hub. Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Data and Application Security and Privacy (CODASPY).
Roopak Venkatakrishnan, Mladen A. Vouk.  2014.  Diversity-based Detection of Security Anomalies. Diversity-based Detection of Security Anomalies. :pp160-161.

Detecting and preventing attacks before they compromise a system can be done using acceptance testing, redundancy based mechanisms, and using external consistency checking such external monitoring and watchdog processes. Diversity-based adjudication, is a step towards an oracle that uses knowable behavior of a healthy system. That approach, under best circumstances, is able to detect even zero-day attacks. In this approach we use functionally equivalent but in some way diverse components and we compare their output vectors and reactions for a given input vector. This paper discusses practical relevance of this approach in the context

Rogerio de Lemos, Holger Giese, Hausi Muller, Mary Shaw, Jesper Andersson, Marin Litoiu, Bradley Schmerl, Gabriel Tamura, Norha Villegas, Thomas Vogel et al..  2013.  Software engineering for self-adaptive systems: A second research roadmap.

The goal of this roadmap paper is to summarize the stateof-the-art and identify research challenges when developing, deploying and managing self-adaptive software systems. Instead of dealing with a wide range of topics associated with the field, we focus on four essential topics of self-adaptation: design space for self-adaptive solutions, software engineering processes for self-adaptive systems, from centralized to decentralized control, and practical run-time verification & validation for self-adaptive systems. For each topic, we present an overview, suggest future directions, and focus on selected challenges. This paper complements and extends a previous roadmap on software engineering for self-adaptive systems published in 2009 covering a different set of topics, and reflecting in part on the previous paper. This roadmap is one of the many results of the Dagstuhl Seminar 10431 on Software Engineering for Self-Adaptive Systems, which took place in October 2010.

Rocky Slavin, Hui Shen, Jianwei Niu.  2012.  Characterizations and boundaries of security requirements patterns. 2012 Second IEEE International Workshop on Requirements Patterns (RePa).

Very often in the software development life cycle, security is applied too late or important security aspects are overlooked. Although the use of security patterns is gaining popularity, the current state of security requirements patterns is such that there is not much in terms of a defining structure. To address this issue, we are working towards defining the important characteristics as well as the boundaries for security requirements patterns in order to make them more effective. By examining an existing general pattern format that describes how security patterns should be structured and comparing it to existing security requirements patterns, we are deriving characterizations and boundaries for security requirements patterns. From these attributes, we propose a defining format. We hope that these can reduce user effort in elicitation and specification of security requirements patterns.

Rocky Slavin, Xiaoyin Wang, Mitra Bokaei Hosseini, James Hester, Ram Krishnan, Jaspreet Bhatia, Travis Breaux, Jianwei Niu.  2016.  Toward a framework for detecting privacy policy violations in android application code. ICSE '16 Proceedings of the 38th International Conference on Software Engineering.

Mobile applications frequently access sensitive personal information to meet user or business requirements. Because such information is sensitive in general, regulators increasingly require mobile-app developers to publish privacy policies that describe what information is collected. Furthermore, regulators have fined companies when these policies are inconsistent with the actual data practices of mobile apps. To help mobile-app developers check their privacy policies against their apps' code for consistency, we propose a semi-automated framework that consists of a policy terminology-API method map that links policy phrases to API methods that produce sensitive information, and information flow analysis to detect misalignments. We present an implementation of our framework based on a privacy-policy-phrase ontology and a collection of mappings from API methods to policy phrases. Our empirical evaluation on 477 top Android apps discovered 341 potential privacy policy violations.

Rocky Slavin, Jean-Michel Lehker, Jianwei Niu, Travis Breaux.  2014.  Managing security requirements patterns using feature diagram hierarchies. 2014 IEEE 22nd International Requirements Engineering Conference (RE).

Security requirements patterns represent reusable security practices that software engineers can apply to improve security in their system. Reusing best practices that others have employed could have a number of benefits, such as decreasing the time spent in the requirements elicitation process or improving the quality of the product by reducing product failure risk. Pattern selection can be difficult due to the diversity of applicable patterns from which an analyst has to choose. The challenge is that identifying the most appropriate pattern for a situation can be cumbersome and time-consuming. We propose a new method that combines an inquiry-cycle based approach with the feature diagram notation to review only relevant patterns and quickly select the most appropriate patterns for the situation. Similar to patterns themselves, our approach captures expert knowledge to relate patterns based on decisions made by the pattern user. The resulting pattern hierarchies allow users to be guided through these decisions by questions, which introduce related patterns in order to help the pattern user select the most appropriate patterns for their situation, thus resulting in better requirement generation. We evaluate our approach using access control patterns in a pattern user study.

Rivers, Anthony T., Vouk, Mladen A., Williams, Laurie.  2014.  On Coverage-Based Attack Profiles. Eight International Conference on Software Security and Reliability (SERE) . :5-6.

Automated cyber attacks tend to be schedule and resource limited. The primary progress metric is often “coverage” of pre-determined “known” vulnerabilities that may not have been patched, along with possible zero-day exploits (if such exist). We present and discuss a hypergeometric process model that describes such attack patterns. We used web request signatures from the logs of a production web server to assess the applicability of the model.

Riaz, Maria, Breaux, Travis, Williams, Laurie, Niu, Jianwei.  2012.  On the Design of Empirical Studies to Evaluate Software Patterns: A Survey.

Software patterns are created with the goal of capturing expert
knowledge so it can be efficiently and effectively shared with the
software development community. However, patterns in practice
may or may not achieve these goals. Empirical studies of the use
of software patterns can help in providing deeper insight into
whether these goals have been met. The objective of this paper is
to aid researchers in designing empirical studies of software
patterns by summarizing the study designs of software patterns
available in the literature. The important components of these
study designs include the evaluation criteria and how the patterns
are presented to study participants. We select and analyze 19
distinct empirical studies and identify 17 independent variables in
three different categories (participants demographics; pattern
presentation; problem presentation). We also extract 10 evaluation
criteria with 23 associated observable measures. Additionally, by
synthesizing the reported observations, we identify challenges
faced during study execution. Provision of multiple domainspecific
examples of pattern application and tool support to assist
in pattern selection are helpful for the study participants in
understanding and completing the study task. Capturing data
regarding the cognitive processes of participants can provide
insights into the findings of the study.

Rao, Ashwini, Hibshi, Hanan, Breaux, Travis, Lehker, Jean-Michel, Niu, Jianwei.  2014.  Less is More? Investigating the Role of Examples in Security Studies using Analogical Transfer 2014 Symposium and Bootcamp on the Science of Security (HotSoS).

Information system developers and administrators often overlook critical security requirements and best practices. This may be due to lack of tools and techniques that allow practitioners to tailor security knowledge to their particular context. In order to explore the impact of new security methods, we must improve our ability to study the impact of security tools and methods on software and system development. In this paper, we present early findings of an experiment to assess the extent to which the number and type of examples used in security training stimuli can impact security problem solving. To motivate this research, we formulate hypotheses from analogical transfer theory in psychology. The independent variables include number of problem surfaces and schemas, and the dependent variable is the answer accuracy. Our study results do not show a statistically significant difference in performance when the number and types of examples are varied. We discuss the limitations, threats to validity and opportunities for future studies in this area.

Raman Goyal, Gabriel Ferreira, Christian Kästner, James Herbsleb.  2017.  Identifying Unusual Commits on GitHub. JOURNAL OF SOFTWARE: EVOLUTION AND PROCESS.

Transparent environments and social-coding platforms as GitHub help developers to stay abreast of changes during the development and maintenance phase of a project. Especially, notification feeds can help developers to learn about relevant changes in other projects. Unfortunately, transparent environments can quickly overwhelm developers with too many notifications, such that they loose the important ones in a sea of noise. Complementing existing prioritization and filtering strategies based on binary compatibility and code ownership, we develop an anomaly-detection mechanism to identify unusual commits in a repository, that stand out with respect to other changes in the same repository or by the same developer. Among others, we detect exceptionally large commits, commits at unusual times, and commits touching rarely changed file types given the characteristics of a particular repository or developer. We automatically flag unusual commits on GitHub through a browser plugin. In an interactive survey with 173 active GitHub users, rating commits in a project of their interest, we found that, though our unusual score is only a weak predictor of whether developers want to be notified about a commit, information about unusual characteristics of a commit change how developers regard commits. Our anomaly-detection mechanism is a building block for scaling transparent environments.

Rahman, Mohammad Ashiqur, Al-Shaer, Ehab, Bobba, Rakesh B..  2014.  Moving Target Defense for Hardening the Security of the Power System State Estimation. First ACM Workshop on Moving Target Defense.

State estimation plays a critically important role in ensuring the secure and reliable operation of the electric grid. Recent works have shown that the state estimation process is vulnerable to stealthy attacks where an adversary can alter certain measurements to corrupt the solution of the process, but evade the existing bad data detection algorithms and remain invisible to the system operator. Since the state estimation result is used to compute optimal power flow and perform contingency analysis, incorrect estimation can undermine economic and secure system operation. However, an adversary needs sufficient resources as well as necessary knowledge to achieve a desired attack outcome. The knowledge that is required to launch an attack mainly includes the measurements considered in state estimation, the connectivity among the buses, and the power line admittances. Uncertainty in information limits the potential attack space for an attacker. This advantage of uncertainty enables us to apply moving target defense (MTD) strategies for developing a proactive defense mechanism for state estimation.

In this paper, we propose an MTD mechanism for securing state estimation, which has several characteristics: (i) increase the knowledge uncertainty for attackers, (ii) reduce the window of attack opportunity, and (iii) increase the attack cost. In this mechanism, we apply controlled randomization on the power grid system properties, mainly on the set of measurements that are considered in state estimation, and the topology, especially the line admittances. We thoroughly analyze the performance of the proposed mechanism on the standard IEEE 14- and 30-bus test systems.

Rahman, Akond, Pradhan, Priysha, Partho, Asif, Williams, Laurie.  2017.  Predicting Android Application Security and Privacy Risk with Static Code Metrics. Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Mobile Software Engineering and Systems. :149–153.

Android applications pose security and privacy risks for end-users. These risks are often quantified by performing dynamic analysis and permission analysis of the Android applications after release. Prediction of security and privacy risks associated with Android applications at early stages of application development, e.g. when the developer (s) are writing the code of the application, might help Android application developers in releasing applications to end-users that have less security and privacy risk. The goal of this paper is to aid Android application developers in assessing the security and privacy risk associated with Android applications by using static code metrics as predictors. In our paper, we consider security and privacy risk of Android application as how susceptible the application is to leaking private information of end-users and to releasing vulnerabilities. We investigate how effectively static code metrics that are extracted from the source code of Android applications, can be used to predict security and privacy risk of Android applications. We collected 21 static code metrics of 1,407 Android applications, and use the collected static code metrics to predict security and privacy risk of the applications. As the oracle of security and privacy risk, we used Androrisk, a tool that quantifies the amount of security and privacy risk of an Android application using analysis of Android permissions and dynamic analysis. To accomplish our goal, we used statistical learners such as, radial-based support vector machine (r-SVM). For r-SVM, we observe a precision of 0.83. Findings from our paper suggest that with proper selection of static code metrics, r-SVM can be used effectively to predict security and privacy risk of Android applications.

Rahman, Akond, Partho, Asif, Meder, David, Williams, Laurie.  2017.  Which Factors Influence Practitioners' Usage of Build Automation Tools? Proceedings of the 3rd International Workshop on Rapid Continuous Software Engineering. :20–26.

Even though build automation tools help to reduce errors and rapid releases of software changes, use of build automation tools is not widespread amongst software practitioners. Software practitioners perceive build automation tools as complex, which can hinder the adoption of these tools. How well founded such perception is, can be determined by systematic exploration of adoption factors that influence usage of build automation tools. The goal of this paper is to aid software practitioners in increasing their usage of build automation tools by identifying the adoption factors that influence usage of these tools. We conducted a survey to empirically identify the adoption factors that influence usage of build automation tools. We obtained survey responses from 268 software professionals who work at NestedApps, Red Hat, as well as contribute to open source software. We observe that adoption factors related to complexity do not have the strongest influence on usage of build automation tools. Instead, we observe compatibility-related adoption factors, such as adjustment with existing tools, and adjustment with practitioner's existing workflow, to have influence on usage of build automation tools with greater importance. Findings from our paper suggest that usage of build automation tools might increase if: build automation tools fit well with practitioners' existing workflow and tool usage; and usage of build automation tools are made more visible among practitioners' peers.

Radu Vanciu, Marwan Abi-Antoun.  2013.  Finding Security Vulnerabilities that are Architectural Flaws using Constraints. 2013 28th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering (ASE).

During Architectural Risk Analysis (ARA), security architects use a runtime architecture to look for security vulnerabilities that are architectural flaws rather than coding defects. The current ARA process, however, is mostly informal and manual. In this paper, we propose Scoria, a semi-automated approach for finding architectural flaws. Scoria uses a sound, hierarchical object graph with abstract objects and dataflow edges, where edges can refer to nodes in the graph. The architects can augment the object graph with security properties, which can express security information unavailable in code. Scoria allows architects to write queries on the graph in terms of the hierarchy, reachability, and provenance of a dataflow object. Based on the query results, the architects enhance their knowledge of the system security and write expressive constraints. The expressiveness is richer than previous approaches that check only for the presence or absence of communication or do not track a dataflow as an object. To evaluate Scoria, we apply these constraints to several extended examples adapted from the CERT standard for Java to confirm that Scoria can detect injected architectural flaws. Next, we write constraints to enforce an Android security policy and find one architectural flaw in one Android application.

Radu Vanciu, Ebrahim Khalaj, Marwan Abi-Antoun.  2014.  Comparative Evaluation of Static Analyses that Find Security Vulnerabilities.

To find security vulnerabilities, many research approaches and commercial tools use a static analysis and check constraints. Previous work compared using a benchmark several approaches where the static analysis and constraints are combined, and the evaluation focused on corner cases in the Java language. We extend the comparative evaluation of these approaches to include one approach that separates the constraints from the static analysis. We also extend the benchmark to cover more classes of security vulnerabilities. Approaches that combine the static analysis and constraints work well for vulnerabilities that are sensitive to the order in which statements are executed. The additional effort required to write separate constraints is rewarded by better recall in dealing with dataflow communication and better precision for callback methods that are common in applications built on frameworks such as Android. 

Radu Vanciu, Marwan Abi-Antoun.  2013.  Extracting Dataflow Objects and other Flow Objects. Foundations of Object-Oriented Languages (FOOL) 2013.

Finding architectural flaws in object-oriented code requires a runtime architecture that shows multiple components of the same type that are used in different contexts. Previous work showed that a runtime architecture can be approximated by an abstract object graph that a static analysis extracts from code with Ownership Domain annotations. To find architectural flaws, it is not enough to reason about the presence or absence of communication. Additional work is needed to reason about the content of the communication. The contribution of this paper is a static analysis that extracts a hierarchical object graph with dataflow edges that refer to objects. The extraction analysis combines the aliasing precision provided by Ownership Domains with a domainsensitive value flow analysis. We evaluate the extraction analysis on an open-source Android application and discuss examples of dataflow edges that refer to objects that are in actual domains or to flow objects that are in domains corresponding to unique annotations.