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Stack Overflow Considered Harmful? The Impact of Copy&Paste on Android Application Security
Online programming discussion platforms such as
Stack Overflow serve as a rich source of information for software
developers. Available information include vibrant discussions
and oftentimes ready-to-use code snippets. Previous research
identified Stack Overflow as one of the most important information sources developers rely on. Anecdotes report that
software developers copy and paste code snippets from those
information sources for convenience reasons. Such behavior
results in a constant flow of community-provided code snippets
into production software. To date, the impact of this behaviour
on code security is unknown.
We answer this highly important question by quantifying
the proliferation of security-related code snippets from Stack
Overflow in Android applications available on Google Play.
Access to the rich source of information available on Stack
Overflow including ready-to-use code snippets provides huge
benefits for software developers. However, when it comes to
code security there are some caveats to bear in mind: Due
to the complex nature of code security, it is very difficult to
provide ready-to-use and secure solutions for every problem.
Hence, integrating a security-related code snippet from Stack
Overflow into production software requires caution and expertise.
Unsurprisingly, we observed insecure code snippets being copied
into Android applications millions of users install from Google
Play every day.
To quantitatively evaluate the extent of this observation, we
scanned Stack Overflow for code snippets and evaluated their
security score using a stochastic gradient descent classifier. In
order to identify code reuse in Android applications, we applied
state-of-the-art static analysis. Our results are alarming: 15.4%
of the 1.3 million Android applications we analyzed, contained
security-related code snippets from Stack Overflow. Out of these
97.9% contain at least one insecure code snippet.
filetype:pdf  paper  security  research  infosec  code  reuse 
october 2019 by jabley
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