Vulnerability detection – addressing the #1 problem

One of the major issues with vulnerability detection in source code is the unbalanced data. Although there is a lot of known vulnerabilities, the examples of them are rather scarce. SonarQube, as a tool, can detect only ca. 30 vulnerabilities out of over 200,000 existing ones. This paper is about making the job of finding security holes in software code easier and more reliable, even when there’s not a lot of clear-cut examples of what’s bad and what’s not. The main part of the paper is about:

  1. The PILOT model: The researchers came up with a smart model named PILOT that only needs examples of risky code and a bunch of other code where we don’t know if it’s safe or risky. It’s like having a detective who’s really good at spotting something fishy with just a few clues.
  2. How PILOT Works: PILOT has two cool tricks up its sleeve. First, it’s got a keen eye for picking out which pieces of the “unknown” code are probably safe. Second, it learns to tell the difference between safe and risky code in a way that’s not thrown off by a few mistakes in the data.
  3. The Proof is in the Pudding: They tested PILOT with real-world data and found it did a better job than other methods, even when those methods had more information to go on. PILOT was also pretty good at catching mistakes in the data where something was labeled as safe but was actually risky.
  4. Why It Matters: This approach is a game-changer because it means you can still get good at finding security risks even if you don’t have a ton of well-labeled data. It’s like being able to train a super sniffer dog with only a few scents rather than the whole scent library.

In essence, PILOT is like a detective that doesn’t need the whole story to solve the case. It can make do with just the good bits and still crack the code on what’s a security risk and what’s not.

Author: Miroslaw Staron

I’m professor in Software Engineering at IT faculty. I usually blog about interesting articles (for me) and my own reflections on the development of Software Engineering, AI, computer science and automotive software.