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Who Evaluates the Evaluators? On Automatic Metrics for Assessing AI-based Offensive Code Generators

by   Cristina Improta, et al.
UNC Charlotte
University of Naples Federico II

AI-based code generators are an emerging solution for automatically writing programs starting from descriptions in natural language, by using deep neural networks (Neural Machine Translation, NMT). In particular, code generators have been used for ethical hacking and offensive security testing by generating proof-of-concept attacks. Unfortunately, the evaluation of code generators still faces several issues. The current practice uses automatic metrics, which compute the textual similarity of generated code with ground-truth references. However, it is not clear what metric to use, and which metric is most suitable for specific contexts. This practical experience report analyzes a large set of output similarity metrics on offensive code generators. We apply the metrics on two state-of-the-art NMT models using two datasets containing offensive assembly and Python code with their descriptions in the English language. We compare the estimates from the automatic metrics with human evaluation and provide practical insights into their strengths and limitations.


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