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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. 

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Marwan Abi-Antoun, Ebrahim Khalaj, Radu Vanciu, Ahmad Moghimi.  2016.  Abstract Runtime Structure Reasoning about Security. HotSos '16 Proceedings of the Symposium and Bootcamp on the Science of Security.

We propose an interactive approach where analysts reason about the security of a system using an abstraction of its runtime structure, as opposed to looking at the code. They interactively refine a hierarchical object graph, set security properties on abstract objects or edges, query the graph, and investigate the results by studying highlighted objects or edges or tracing to the code. Behind the scenes, an inference analysis and an extraction analysis maintain the soundness of the graph with respect to the code.

Marwan Abi-Antoun, Yibin Wang, Ebrahim Khalaj, Andrew Giang, Vaclav Rajlich.  2015.  Impact Analysis based on a Global Hierarchical Object Graph. 2015 IEEE 22nd International Conference on Software Analysis, Evolution, and Reengineering (SANER).

During impact analysis on object-oriented code, statically extracting dependencies is often complicated by subclassing, programming to interfaces, aliasing, and collections, among others. When a tool recommends a large number of types or does not rank its recommendations, it may lead developers to explore more irrelevant code. We propose to mine and rank dependencies based on a global, hierarchical points-to graph that is extracted using abstract interpretation. A previous whole-program static analysis interprets a program enriched with annotations that express hierarchy, and over-approximates all the objects that may be created at runtime and how they may communicate. In this paper, an analysis mines the hierarchy and the edges in the graph to extract and rank dependencies such as the most important classes related to a class, or the most important classes behind an interface. An evaluation using two case studies on two systems totaling 10,000 lines of code and five completed code modification tasks shows that following dependencies based on abstract interpretation achieves higher effectiveness compared to following dependencies extracted from the abstract syntax tree. As a result, developers explore less irrelevant code.