Examining the Relationship of Code and Architectural Smells with Software Vulnerabilities

10/29/2020
by   Kazi Zakia Sultana, et al.
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Context: Security is vital to software developed for commercial or personal use. Although more organizations are realizing the importance of applying secure coding practices, in many of them, security concerns are not known or addressed until a security failure occurs. The root cause of security failures is vulnerable code. While metrics have been used to predict software vulnerabilities, we explore the relationship between code and architectural smells with security weaknesses. As smells are surface indicators of a deeper problem in software, determining the relationship between smells and software vulnerabilities can play a significant role in vulnerability prediction models. Objective: This study explores the relationship between smells and software vulnerabilities to identify the smells. Method: We extracted the class, method, file, and package level smells for three systems: Apache Tomcat, Apache CXF, and Android. We then compared their occurrences in the vulnerable classes which were reported to contain vulnerable code and in the neutral classes (non-vulnerable classes where no vulnerability had yet been reported). Results: We found that a vulnerable class is more likely to have certain smells compared to a non-vulnerable class. God Class, Complex Class, Large Class, Data Class, Feature Envy, Brain Class have a statistically significant relationship with software vulnerabilities. We found no significant relationship between architectural smells and software vulnerabilities. Conclusion: We can conclude that for all the systems examined, there is a statistically significant correlation between software vulnerabilities and some smells.

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