Researchers are adding bugs to experimental software code in order to ultimately wind up with programs that have fewer vulnerabilities.
The idea is to insert a known quantity of vulnerabilities into code, then see how many of them are discovered by bug-finding tools.
By analyzing the reasons bugs escape detection, developers can create more effective bug-finders, according to researchers at New York University in collaboration with others from MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and Northeastern University.
They created large-scale automated vulnerability addition (LAVA), which is a low-cost technique that adds the vulnerabilities. “The only way to evaluate a bug finder is to control the number of bugs in a program, which is exactly what we do with LAVA,” says Brendan Dolan-Gavitt, a computer science and engineering professor at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering.