Visible to the public Biblio

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Medeiros, N., Ivaki, N., Costa, P., Vieira, M..  2018.  An Approach for Trustworthiness Benchmarking Using Software Metrics. 2018 IEEE 23rd Pacific Rim International Symposium on Dependable Computing (PRDC). :84–93.

Trustworthiness is a paramount concern for users and customers in the selection of a software solution, specially in the context of complex and dynamic environments, such as Cloud and IoT. However, assessing and benchmarking trustworthiness (worthiness of software for being trusted) is a challenging task, mainly due to the variety of application scenarios (e.g., businesscritical, safety-critical), the large number of determinative quality attributes (e.g., security, performance), and last, but foremost, due to the subjective notion of trust and trustworthiness. In this paper, we present trustworthiness as a measurable notion in relative terms based on security attributes and propose an approach for the assessment and benchmarking of software. The main goal is to build a trustworthiness assessment model based on software metrics (e.g., Cyclomatic Complexity, CountLine, CBO) that can be used as indicators of software security. To demonstrate the proposed approach, we assessed and ranked several files and functions of the Mozilla Firefox project based on their trustworthiness score and conducted a survey among several software security experts in order to validate the obtained rank. Results show that our approach is able to provide a sound ranking of the benchmarked software.

Medeiros, N., Ivaki, N., Costa, P., Vieira, M..  2017.  Software Metrics as Indicators of Security Vulnerabilities. 2017 IEEE 28th International Symposium on Software Reliability Engineering (ISSRE). :216–227.

Detecting software security vulnerabilities and distinguishing vulnerable from non-vulnerable code is anything but simple. Most of the time, vulnerabilities remain undisclosed until they are exposed, for instance, by an attack during the software operational phase. Software metrics are widely-used indicators of software quality, but the question is whether they can be used to distinguish vulnerable software units from the non-vulnerable ones during development. In this paper, we perform an exploratory study on software metrics, their interdependency, and their relation with security vulnerabilities. We aim at understanding: i) the correlation between software architectural characteristics, represented in the form of software metrics, and the number of vulnerabilities; and ii) which are the most informative and discriminative metrics that allow identifying vulnerable units of code. To achieve these goals, we use, respectively, correlation coefficients and heuristic search techniques. Our analysis is carried out on a dataset that includes software metrics and reported security vulnerabilities, exposed by security attacks, for all functions, classes, and files of five widely used projects. Results show: i) a strong correlation between several project-level metrics and the number of vulnerabilities, ii) the possibility of using a group of metrics, at both file and function levels, to distinguish vulnerable and non-vulnerable code with a high level of accuracy.

Fonseca, J., Vieira, M., Madeira, H..  2014.  Evaluation of Web Security Mechanisms Using Vulnerability amp; Attack Injection. Dependable and Secure Computing, IEEE Transactions on. 11:440-453.

In this paper we propose a methodology and a prototype tool to evaluate web application security mechanisms. The methodology is based on the idea that injecting realistic vulnerabilities in a web application and attacking them automatically can be used to support the assessment of existing security mechanisms and tools in custom setup scenarios. To provide true to life results, the proposed vulnerability and attack injection methodology relies on the study of a large number of vulnerabilities in real web applications. In addition to the generic methodology, the paper describes the implementation of the Vulnerability & Attack Injector Tool (VAIT) that allows the automation of the entire process. We used this tool to run a set of experiments that demonstrate the feasibility and the effectiveness of the proposed methodology. The experiments include the evaluation of coverage and false positives of an intrusion detection system for SQL Injection attacks and the assessment of the effectiveness of two top commercial web application vulnerability scanners. Results show that the injection of vulnerabilities and attacks is indeed an effective way to evaluate security mechanisms and to point out not only their weaknesses but also ways for their improvement.

Fonseca, J., Seixas, N., Vieira, M., Madeira, H..  2014.  Analysis of Field Data on Web Security Vulnerabilities. Dependable and Secure Computing, IEEE Transactions on. 11:89-100.

Most web applications have critical bugs (faults) affecting their security, which makes them vulnerable to attacks by hackers and organized crime. To prevent these security problems from occurring it is of utmost importance to understand the typical software faults. This paper contributes to this body of knowledge by presenting a field study on two of the most widely spread and critical web application vulnerabilities: SQL Injection and XSS. It analyzes the source code of security patches of widely used web applications written in weak and strong typed languages. Results show that only a small subset of software fault types, affecting a restricted collection of statements, is related to security. To understand how these vulnerabilities are really exploited by hackers, this paper also presents an analysis of the source code of the scripts used to attack them. The outcomes of this study can be used to train software developers and code inspectors in the detection of such faults and are also the foundation for the research of realistic vulnerability and attack injectors that can be used to assess security mechanisms, such as intrusion detection systems, vulnerability scanners, and static code analyzers.