Can the configuration of static analyses make resolving security vulnerabilities more effective? - A user study (bibtex)
author={Piskachev, Goran
and Becker, Matthias
and Bodden, Eric},
title={Can the configuration of static analyses make resolving security vulnerabilities more effective? - A user study},
journal={Empirical Software Engineering},
abstract={The use of static analysis security testing (SAST) tools has been increasing in recent years. However, previous studies have shown that, when shipped to end users such as development or security teams, the findings of these tools are often unsatisfying. Users report high numbers of false positives or long analysis times, making the tools unusable in the daily workflow. To address this, SAST tool creators provide a wide range of configuration options, such as customization of rules through domain-specific languages or specification of the application-specific analysis scope. In this paper, we study the configuration space of selected existing SAST tools when used within the integrated development environment (IDE). We focus on the configuration options that impact three dimensions, for which a trade-off is unavoidable, i.e., precision, recall, and analysis runtime. We perform a between-subjects user study with 40 users from multiple development and security teams - to our knowledge, the largest population for this kind of user study in the software engineering community. The results show that users who configure SAST tools are more effective in resolving security vulnerabilities detected by the tools than those using the default configuration. Based on post-study interviews, we identify common strategies that users have while configuring the SAST tools to provide further insights for tool creators. Finally, an evaluation of the configuration options of two commercial SAST tools, Fortify and CheckMarx, reveals that a quarter of the users do not understand the configuration options provided. The configuration options that are found most useful relate to the analysis scope.},
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