Visible to the public Biblio

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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.

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.  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.

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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, Sumukhi Chandrashekar, Radu Vanciu, Andrew Giang.  2014.  Are Object Graphs Extracted Using Abstract Interpretation Significantly Different from the Code? Extended Version SCAM '14 Proceedings of the 2014 IEEE 14th International Working Conference on Source Code Analysis and Manipulation.

To evolve object-oriented code, one must understand both the code structure in terms of classes, and the runtime structure in terms of abstractions of objects that are being created and relations between those objects. To help with this understanding, static program analysis can extract heap abstractions such as object graphs. But the extracted graphs can become too large if they do not sufficiently abstract objects, or too imprecise if they abstract objects excessively to the point of being similar to a class diagram that shows one box for a class to represent all the instances of that class. One previously proposed solution uses both annotations and abstract interpretation to extract a global, hierarchical, abstract object graph that conveys both abstraction and design intent, but can still be related to the code structure. In this paper, we define metrics that relate nodes and edges in the object graph to elements in the code structure to measure how they differ, and if the differences are indicative of language or design features such as encapsulation, polymorphism and inheritance. We compute the metrics across eight systems totaling over 100 KLOC, and show a statistically significant difference between the code and the object graph. In several cases, the magnitude of this difference is large.

Marwan Abi-Antoun, Sumukhi Chandrashekar, Radu Vanciu, Andrew Giang.  2014.  Are Object Graphs Extracted Using Abstract Interpretation Significantly Different from the Code? SCAM '14 Proceedings of the 2014 IEEE 14th International Working Conference on Source Code Analysis and Manipulation.

To evolve object-oriented code, one must understand both the code structure in terms of classes, and the runtime structure in terms of abstractions of objects that are being created and relations between those objects. To help with this understanding, static program analysis can extract heap abstractions such as object graphs. But the extracted graphs can become too large if they do not sufficiently abstract objects, or too imprecise if they abstract objects excessively to the point of being similar to a class diagram, where one box for a class represents all the instances of that class. One previously proposed solution uses both annotations and abstract interpretation to extract a global, hierarchical, abstract object graph that conveys both abstraction and design intent, but can still be related to the code structure. In this paper, we define metrics that relate nodes and edges in the object graph to elements in the code structure, to measure how they differ, and if the differences are indicative of language or design features such as encapsulation, polymorphism and inheritance. We compute the metrics across eight systems totaling over 100 KLOC, and show a statistically significant difference between the code and the object graph. In several cases, the magnitude of this difference is large.