A hierarchical model for quantifying software security based on static analysis alerts and software metrics

TytułA hierarchical model for quantifying software security based on static analysis alerts and software metrics
Publication TypeJournal Article
Rok publikacji2021
AutorzySiavvas M, Kehagias D, Tzovaras D, Gelenbe E
JournalSoftware Quality Journal

Despite the acknowledged importance of quantitative security assessment in secure software development, current literature still lacks an efcient model for measuring internal software security risk. To this end, in this paper, we introduce a hierarchical security assessment model (SAM), able to assess the internal security level of software products based on low-level indicators, i.e., security-relevant static analysis alerts and software metrics. The model, following the guidelines of ISO/IEC 25010, and based on a set of thresholds and weights, systematically aggregates these low-level indicators in order to produce a high-level security score that refects the internal security level of the analyzed software. The proposed model is practical, since it is fully automated and operationalized in the form of a standalone tool and as part of a broader Computer-Aided Software Engineering (CASE) platform. In order to enhance its reliability, the thresholds of the model were calibrated based on a repository of 100 popular software applications retrieved from Maven Repository. Furthermore, its weights were elicited in a way to chiefy refect the knowledge expressed by the Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE), through a novel weights elicitation approach grounded on popular decision-making techniques. The proposed model was evaluated on a large repository of 150 open-source software applications retrieved from GitHub and 1200 classes retrieved from the OWASP Benchmark. The results of the experiments revealed the capacity of the proposed model to reliably assess internal security at both product level and class level of granularity, with sufcient discretion power. They also provide preliminary evidence for the ability of the model to be used as the basis for vulnerability prediction. To the best of our knowledge, this is the frst fully automated, operationalized and sufciently evaluated security assessment model in the modern literature

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