Visible to the public Jumping Through Hoops: Why Do Java Developers Struggle with Cryptography APIs?

TitleJumping Through Hoops: Why Do Java Developers Struggle with Cryptography APIs?
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsNadi, Sarah, Krüger, Stefan, Mezini, Mira, Bodden, Eric
Conference NameProceedings of the 38th International Conference on Software Engineering
Conference LocationNew York, NY, USA
ISBN Number978-1-4503-3900-1
KeywordsAPI, API misuse, APIs, applications programming interfaces, compositionality, cryptography, empirical software engineering, pubcrawl, Resiliency

To protect sensitive data processed by current applications, developers, whether security experts or not, have to rely on cryptography. While cryptography algorithms have become increasingly advanced, many data breaches occur because developers do not correctly use the corresponding APIs. To guide future research into practical solutions to this problem, we perform an empirical investigation into the obstacles developers face while using the Java cryptography APIs, the tasks they use the APIs for, and the kind of (tool) support they desire. We triangulate data from four separate studies that include the analysis of 100 StackOverflow posts, 100 GitHub repositories, and survey input from 48 developers. We find that while developers find it difficult to use certain cryptographic algorithms correctly, they feel surprisingly confident in selecting the right cryptography concepts (e.g., encryption vs. signatures). We also find that the APIs are generally perceived to be too low-level and that developers prefer more task-based solutions.

Citation Keynadi_jumping_2016