Aletheia

ALETHEIA: Improving the Usability of Static Security Analysis. The scale and complexity of modern software systems complicate manual security auditing. Automated analysis tools are gradually becoming a necessity. Specifically, static security analyses carry the promise of efficiently verifying large code bases. Yet, a critical usability barrier, hindering the adoption of static security analysis by developers, is the excess of false reports. Current tools do not offer the user any direct means of customizing or cleansing the report. The user is thus left to review hundreds, if not thousands, of potential warnings, and classify them as either actionable or spurious. This is both burdensome and error prone, leaving developers disenchanted by static security checkers. We address this challenge by introducing a general technique to refine the output of static security checkers. The key idea is to apply statistical learning to the warnings output by the analysis based on user feedback on a small set of warnings. This leads to an interactive solution, whereby the user classifies a small fragment of the issues reported by the analysis, and the learning algorithm then classifies the remaining warnings automatically. An important aspect of our solution is that it is user centric. The user can express different classification policies, ranging from strong bias toward elimination of false warnings to strong bias toward preservation of true warnings, which our filtering system then executes. We have implemented our approach as the Aletheia tool. Our evaluation of Aletheia on a diversified set of nearly 4,000 client-side JavaScript benchmarks, extracted from 675 popular Web sites, is highly encouraging. As an example, based only on 200 classified warnings, and with a policy biased toward preservation of true warnings, Aletheia is able to boost precision by a threefold factor (x 2.868), while reducing recall by a negligible factor (x 1.006). Other policies are enforced with a similarly high level of efficacy.

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  1. Ferrara, Pietro; Olivieri, Luca; Spoto, Fausto: \textsfBackFlow: backward context-sensitive flow reconstruction of taint analysis results (2020)