Visible to the public Can We Use Software Bugs to Identify Software Vulnerability Strategies

Daily horror stories related to software vulnerabilities necessitates the understanding of how vulnerabilities are discovered. Identifi-cation of data sources that can be leveraged to understand how vulnerabilities are discovered could aid cybersecurity researchers to characterize exploitation of vulnerabilities. The goal of the paper is to help cybersecurity researchers in characterizing vulnerabilities by conducting an empirical study of software bug reports. We apply qual-itative analysis on 729, 908, and 5336 open source software (OSS) bug reports respectively, collected from Gentoo, LibreOffice, and Mozilla to investigate if bug reports include vulnerability discovery strategies i.e. sequences of computation and/or cognitive activities that an attacker performs to discover vulnerabilities, where the vulnerability is indexed by a credible source, such as the National Vulnerability Database (NVD). We evaluate two approaches namely, text feature-based approach and regular expression-based approach to automatically identify bug reports that include vulnerability dis-covery strategies. We observe the Gentoo, LibreOffice, and Mozilla bug reports to include vulnerability discovery strategies. Using text feature-based prediction models, we observe the highest prediction per-formance for the Mozilla dataset with a recall of 0.78. Using the regular expression-based approach we observe recall to be 0.83 for the same dataset. Findings from our paper provide the ground-work for cybersecurity researchers to use OSS bug reports as a data source for advancing the science of vulnerabilities.

Izzat Alsmadi is an Assistant Professor in the department of computing and cyber security at the Texas A&M, San Antonio. He has his master and PhD in Software Engineering from North Dakota State University in 2006 and 2008. He has more than 100 conference and journal publications. His research interests include: Cyber intelligence, Cyber security, Software security, software engineering, software testing, social networks and software defined networking. He is lead author, editor in several books including: Springer The NICE Cyber Security Framework Cyber Security Intelligence and Analytics, 2019, Practical Information Security: A Competency-Based Education Course, 2018, Information Fusion for Cyber-Security Analytics (Studies in Computational Intelligence), 2016. The author is also a member of The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) group, which meets frequently to discuss enhancements on cyber security education at the national level.

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Can We Use Software Bugs to Identify Software Vulnerability Strategies
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