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Dazed and Confused: What's Wrong with Crypto Libraries?

Recent studies have shown that developers have difficulties in using cryptographic APIs, which often led to security flaws. We are interested to tackle this matter by looking into what types of problems exist in various crypto libraries. We manually studied 500 posts on Stack Overflow associated with 20 popular crypto libraries. We realized there are 10 themes in the discussions. Interestingly, there were only two questions related to attacks against cryptography. There were 63 discussions in which developers had interoperability issues when working with more than a crypto library. The majority of posts (i.e. 112) were about encryption/decryption problems and 111 were about installation/compilation issues of crypto libraries. Overall, we realize that the crypto libraries are frequently involved in more than five themes of discussions. We believe the current initial findings can help team leaders and experienced developers to correctly guide the team members in the domain of cryptography. Moreover, future research should investigate the similarity of problems at the API level among popular crypto libraries.


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