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On the Use of Refactoring in Security Vulnerability Fixes: An Exploratory Study on Maven Libraries

05/17/2022
by   Ayano Ikegami, et al.
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Third-party library dependencies are commonplace in today's software development. With the growing threat of security vulnerabilities, applying security fixes in a timely manner is important to protect software systems. As such, the community developed a list of software and hardware weakness known as Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) to assess vulnerabilities. Prior work has revealed that maintenance activities such as refactoring code potentially correlate with security-related aspects in the source code. In this work, we explore the relationship between refactoring and security by analyzing refactoring actions performed jointly with vulnerability fixes in practice. We conducted a case study to analyze 143 maven libraries in which 351 known vulnerabilities had been detected and fixed. Surprisingly, our exploratory results show that developers incorporate refactoring operations in their fixes, with 31.9 actions. We envision this short paper to open up potential new directions to motivate automated tool support, allowing developers to deliver fixes faster, while maintaining their code.

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