Visible to the public Biblio

Filters: Author is Williams, Laurie  [Clear All Filters]
2014-09-17
King, Jason, Williams, Laurie.  2014.  Log Your CRUD: Design Principles for Software Logging Mechanisms. Proceedings of the 2014 Symposium and Bootcamp on the Science of Security. :5:1–5:10.

According to a 2011 survey in healthcare, the most commonly reported breaches of protected health information involved employees snooping into medical records of friends and relatives. Logging mechanisms can provide a means for forensic analysis of user activity in software systems by proving that a user performed certain actions in the system. However, logging mechanisms often inconsistently capture user interactions with sensitive data, creating gaps in traces of user activity. Explicit design principles and systematic testing of logging mechanisms within the software development lifecycle may help strengthen the overall security of software. The objective of this research is to observe the current state of logging mechanisms by performing an exploratory case study in which we systematically evaluate logging mechanisms by supplementing the expected results of existing functional black-box test cases to include log output. We perform an exploratory case study of four open-source electronic health record (EHR) logging mechanisms: OpenEMR, OSCAR, Tolven eCHR, and WorldVistA. We supplement the expected results of 30 United States government-sanctioned test cases to include log output to track access of sensitive data. We then execute the test cases on each EHR system. Six of the 30 (20%) test cases failed on all four EHR systems because user interactions with sensitive data are not logged. We find that viewing protected data is often not logged by default, allowing unauthorized views of data to go undetected. Based on our results, we propose a set of principles that developers should consider when developing logging mechanisms to ensure the ability to capture adequate traces of user activity.

Hwang, JeeHyun, Williams, Laurie, Vouk, Mladen.  2014.  Access Control Policy Evolution: An Empirical Study. Proceedings of the 2014 Symposium and Bootcamp on the Science of Security. :28:1–28:2.

Access Control Policies (ACPs) evolve. Understanding the trends and evolution patterns of ACPs could provide guidance about the reliability and maintenance of ACPs. Our research goal is to help policy authors improve the quality of ACP evolution based on the understanding of trends and evolution patterns in ACPs We performed an empirical study by analyzing the ACP changes over time for two systems: Security Enhanced Linux (SELinux), and an open-source virtual computing platform (VCL). We measured trends in terms of the number of policy lines and lines of code (LOC), respectively. We observed evolution patterns. For example, an evolution pattern st1 → st2 says that st1 (e.g., "read") evolves into st2 (e.g., "read" and "write"). This pattern indicates that policy authors add "write" permission in addition to existing "read" permission. We found that some of evolution patterns appear to occur more frequently.

Subramani, Shweta, Vouk, Mladen, Williams, Laurie.  2014.  An Analysis of Fedora Security Profile. Proceedings of the 2014 Symposium and Bootcamp on the Science of Security. :35:1–35:2.

This paper examines security faults/vulnerabilities reported for Fedora. Results indicate that, at least in some situations, fault roughly constant may be used to guide estimation of residual vulnerabilities in an already released product, as well as possibly guide testing of the next version of the product.

2017-03-17
Carver, Jeffrey C., Burcham, Morgan, Kocak, Sedef Akinli, Bener, Ayse, Felderer, Michael, Gander, Matthias, King, Jason, Markkula, Jouni, Oivo, Markku, Sauerwein, Clemens et al..  2016.  Establishing a Baseline for Measuring Advancement in the Science of Security: An Analysis of the 2015 IEEE Security & Privacy Proceedings. Proceedings of the Symposium and Bootcamp on the Science of Security. :38–51.

To help establish a more scientific basis for security science, which will enable the development of fundamental theories and move the field from being primarily reactive to primarily proactive, it is important for research results to be reported in a scientifically rigorous manner. Such reporting will allow for the standard pillars of science, namely replication, meta-analysis, and theory building. In this paper we aim to establish a baseline of the state of scientific work in security through the analysis of indicators of scientific research as reported in the papers from the 2015 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy. To conduct this analysis, we developed a series of rubrics to determine the completeness of the papers relative to the type of evaluation used (e.g. case study, experiment, proof). Our findings showed that while papers are generally easy to read, they often do not explicitly document some key information like the research objectives, the process for choosing the cases to include in the studies, and the threats to validity. We hope that this initial analysis will serve as a baseline against which we can measure the advancement of the science of security.

2017-03-20
Carver, Jeffrey C., Burcham, Morgan, Kocak, Sedef Akinli, Bener, Ayse, Felderer, Michael, Gander, Matthias, King, Jason, Markkula, Jouni, Oivo, Markku, Sauerwein, Clemens et al..  2016.  Establishing a Baseline for Measuring Advancement in the Science of Security: An Analysis of the 2015 IEEE Security & Privacy Proceedings. Proceedings of the Symposium and Bootcamp on the Science of Security. :38–51.

To help establish a more scientific basis for security science, which will enable the development of fundamental theories and move the field from being primarily reactive to primarily proactive, it is important for research results to be reported in a scientifically rigorous manner. Such reporting will allow for the standard pillars of science, namely replication, meta-analysis, and theory building. In this paper we aim to establish a baseline of the state of scientific work in security through the analysis of indicators of scientific research as reported in the papers from the 2015 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy. To conduct this analysis, we developed a series of rubrics to determine the completeness of the papers relative to the type of evaluation used (e.g. case study, experiment, proof). Our findings showed that while papers are generally easy to read, they often do not explicitly document some key information like the research objectives, the process for choosing the cases to include in the studies, and the threats to validity. We hope that this initial analysis will serve as a baseline against which we can measure the advancement of the science of security.

Ur Rahman, Akond Ashfaque, Williams, Laurie.  2016.  Software Security in DevOps: Synthesizing Practitioners' Perceptions and Practices. Proceedings of the International Workshop on Continuous Software Evolution and Delivery. :70–76.

In organizations that use DevOps practices, software changes can be deployed as fast as 500 times or more per day. Without adequate involvement of the security team, rapidly deployed software changes are more likely to contain vulnerabilities due to lack of adequate reviews. The goal of this paper is to aid software practitioners in integrating security and DevOps by summarizing experiences in utilizing security practices in a DevOps environment. We analyzed a selected set of Internet artifacts and surveyed representatives of nine organizations that are using DevOps to systematically explore experiences in utilizing security practices. We observe that the majority of the software practitioners have expressed the potential of common DevOps activities, such as automated monitoring, to improve the security of a system. Furthermore, organizations that integrate DevOps and security utilize additional security activities, such as security requirements analysis and performing security configurations. Additionally, these teams also have established collaboration between the security team and the development and operations teams.

Ur Rahman, Akond Ashfaque, Williams, Laurie.  2016.  Software Security in DevOps: Synthesizing Practitioners' Perceptions and Practices. Proceedings of the International Workshop on Continuous Software Evolution and Delivery. :70–76.

In organizations that use DevOps practices, software changes can be deployed as fast as 500 times or more per day. Without adequate involvement of the security team, rapidly deployed software changes are more likely to contain vulnerabilities due to lack of adequate reviews. The goal of this paper is to aid software practitioners in integrating security and DevOps by summarizing experiences in utilizing security practices in a DevOps environment. We analyzed a selected set of Internet artifacts and surveyed representatives of nine organizations that are using DevOps to systematically explore experiences in utilizing security practices. We observe that the majority of the software practitioners have expressed the potential of common DevOps activities, such as automated monitoring, to improve the security of a system. Furthermore, organizations that integrate DevOps and security utilize additional security activities, such as security requirements analysis and performing security configurations. Additionally, these teams also have established collaboration between the security team and the development and operations teams.

2017-04-03
Theisen, Christopher, Williams, Laurie.  2016.  Risk-based Attack Surface Approximation: Poster. Proceedings of the Symposium and Bootcamp on the Science of Security. :121–123.

Proactive security review and test efforts are a necessary component of the software development lifecycle. Since resource limitations often preclude reviewing, testing and fortifying the entire code base, prioritizing what code to review/test can improve a team's ability to find and remove more vulnerabilities that are reachable by an attacker. One way that professionals perform this prioritization is the identification of the attack surface of software systems. However, identifying the attack surface of a software system is non-trivial. The goal of this poster is to present the concept of a risk-based attack surface approximation based on crash dump stack traces for the prioritization of security code rework efforts. For this poster, we will present results from previous efforts in the attack surface approximation space, including studies on its effectiveness in approximating security relevant code for Windows and Firefox. We will also discuss future research directions for attack surface approximation, including discovery of additional metrics from stack traces and determining how many stack traces are required for a good approximation.

2017-04-10
Burcham, Morgan, Al-Zyoud, Mahran, Carver, Jeffrey C., Alsaleh, Mohammed, Du, Hongying, Gilani, Fida, Jiang, Jun, Rahman, Akond, Kafalı, Özgür, Al-Shaer, Ehab et al..  2017.  Characterizing Scientific Reporting in Security Literature: An Analysis of ACM CCS and IEEE S&P Papers. Proceedings of the Hot Topics in Science of Security: Symposium and Bootcamp. :13–23.

Scientific advancement is fueled by solid fundamental research, followed by replication, meta-analysis, and theory building. To support such advancement, researchers and government agencies have been working towards a "science of security". As in other sciences, security science requires high-quality fundamental research addressing important problems and reporting approaches that capture the information necessary for replication, meta-analysis, and theory building. The goal of this paper is to aid security researchers in establishing a baseline of the state of scientific reporting in security through an analysis of indicators of scientific research as reported in top security conferences, specifically the 2015 ACM CCS and 2016 IEEE S&P proceedings. To conduct this analysis, we employed a series of rubrics to analyze the completeness of information reported in papers relative to the type of evaluation used (e.g. empirical study, proof, discussion). Our findings indicated some important information is often missing from papers, including explicit documentation of research objectives and the threats to validity. Our findings show a relatively small number of replications reported in the literature. We hope that this initial analysis will serve as a baseline against which we can measure the advancement of the science of security.

2017-07-06
Burcham, Morgan, Al-Zyoud, Mahran, Carver, Jeffrey C., Alsaleh, Mohammed, Du, Hongying, Gilani, Fida, Jiang, Jun, Rahman, Akond, Kafalı, Özgür, Al-Shaer, Ehab et al..  2017.  Characterizing Scientific Reporting in Security Literature: An Analysis of ACM CCS and IEEE S&P Papers. Proceedings of the Hot Topics in Science of Security: Symposium and Bootcamp. :13–23.

Scientific advancement is fueled by solid fundamental research, followed by replication, meta-analysis, and theory building. To support such advancement, researchers and government agencies have been working towards a "science of security". As in other sciences, security science requires high-quality fundamental research addressing important problems and reporting approaches that capture the information necessary for replication, meta-analysis, and theory building. The goal of this paper is to aid security researchers in establishing a baseline of the state of scientific reporting in security through an analysis of indicators of scientific research as reported in top security conferences, specifically the 2015 ACM CCS and 2016 IEEE S&P proceedings. To conduct this analysis, we employed a series of rubrics to analyze the completeness of information reported in papers relative to the type of evaluation used (e.g. empirical study, proof, discussion). Our findings indicated some important information is often missing from papers, including explicit documentation of research objectives and the threats to validity. Our findings show a relatively small number of replications reported in the literature. We hope that this initial analysis will serve as a baseline against which we can measure the advancement of the science of security.

2017-09-06
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.

2018-05-09
Al-Zyoud, Mahran, Williams, Laurie, Carver, Jeffrey C..  2017.  Step One Towards Science of Security. Proceedings of the 2017 Workshop on Automated Decision Making for Active Cyber Defense. :31–35.

Science of security necessitates conducting methodologically-defensible research and reporting such research comprehensively to enable replication and future research to build upon the reported study. The comprehensiveness of reporting is as important as the research itself in building a science of security. Key principles of science - replication, meta-analysis, and theory building - are affected by the ability to understand the context and findings of published studies. The goal of this paper is to aid the security research community in understanding the state of scientific communication through the analysis of research published at top security conferences. To analyze scientific communication, we use literature on scientific evaluation to develop a set of rubrics as a guide to check the comprehensiveness of papers published in the IEEE Security and Privacy and ACM Computer and Communications Security conferences. Our review found that papers often omit certain types of information from their reports, including research objectives and threats to validity. Our hope is that this effort sheds some light on one of the essential steps towards advancement of the science of security.

Williams, Laurie.  2017.  Building Forensics in: Supporting the Investigation of Digital Criminal Activities (Invited Talk). Proceedings of the 1st ACM SIGSOFT International Workshop on Software Engineering and Digital Forensics. :1–1.
Logging mechanisms that capture detailed traces of user activity, including creating, reading, updating, and deleting (CRUD) data, facilitate meaningful forensic analysis following a security or privacy breach. However, software requirements often inadequately and inconsistently state “what” user actions should be logged, thus hindering meaningful forensic analysis. In this talk, we will explore a variety of techniques for building a software system that supports forensic analysis. We will discuss systematic heuristics-driven and patterns-driven processes for identifying log events that must be logged based on user actions and potential accidental and malicious use, as described in natural language software artifacts. We then discuss systematic process for creating a black-box test suite for verifying the identified log events are logged. Using the results of executing the black-box test suite, we propose and evaluate a security metric for measuring the forensic-ability of user activity logs.
2020-02-10
Rahman, Akond, Parnin, Chris, Williams, Laurie.  2019.  The Seven Sins: Security Smells in Infrastructure as Code Scripts. 2019 IEEE/ACM 41st International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE). :164–175.

Practitioners use infrastructure as code (IaC) scripts to provision servers and development environments. While developing IaC scripts, practitioners may inadvertently introduce security smells. Security smells are recurring coding patterns that are indicative of security weakness and can potentially lead to security breaches. The goal of this paper is to help practitioners avoid insecure coding practices while developing infrastructure as code (IaC) scripts through an empirical study of security smells in IaC scripts. We apply qualitative analysis on 1,726 IaC scripts to identify seven security smells. Next, we implement and validate a static analysis tool called Security Linter for Infrastructure as Code scripts (SLIC) to identify the occurrence of each smell in 15,232 IaC scripts collected from 293 open source repositories. We identify 21,201 occurrences of security smells that include 1,326 occurrences of hard-coded passwords. We submitted bug reports for 1,000 randomly-selected security smell occurrences. We obtain 212 responses to these bug reports, of which 148 occurrences were accepted by the development teams to be fixed. We observe security smells can have a long lifetime, e.g., a hard-coded secret can persist for as long as 98 months, with a median lifetime of 20 months.

Rahman, Md Rayhanur, Rahman, Akond, Williams, Laurie.  2019.  Share, But Be Aware: Security Smells in Python Gists. 2019 IEEE International Conference on Software Maintenance and Evolution (ICSME). :536–540.

Github Gist is a service provided by Github which is used by developers to share code snippets. While sharing, developers may inadvertently introduce security smells in code snippets as well, such as hard-coded passwords. Security smells are recurrent coding patterns that are indicative of security weaknesses, which could potentially lead to security breaches. The goal of this paper is to help software practitioners avoid insecure coding practices through an empirical study of security smells in publicly-available GitHub Gists. Through static analysis, we found 13 types of security smells with 4,403 occurrences in 5,822 publicly-available Python Gists. 1,817 of those Gists, which is around 31%, have at least one security smell including 689 instances of hard-coded secrets. We also found no significance relation between the presence of these security smells and the reputation of the Gist author. Based on our findings, we advocate for increased awareness and rigorous code review efforts related to software security for Github Gists so that propagation of insecure coding practices are mitigated.

2020-03-18
Williams, Laurie.  2019.  Science Leaves Clues. IEEE Security Privacy. 17:4–6.
The elusive science of security. Science advances when research results build upon prior findings through the evolution of hypotheses and theories about the fundamental relationships among variables within a context and considering the threats and limitations of the work. Some hypothesize that, through this science of security, the industry can take a more principled and systematic approach to securing systems, rather than reacting to the latest move by attackers. Others debate the utility of a science of security.