CSIS logoCenter for Secure Information Systems

Securing the World's Cyber Infrastructure

Aerial View of the George Mason Fairfax Campus

CSIS Seminar

AI-Enhanced Software Vulnerability and Security Patch Analysis

Speaker:   Xinda Wang, George Mason University
When:   April 12, 2023, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
Where:   ENGR 2302


With the increasing popularity of open-source software (OSS), their embedded vulnerabilities have been widely propagating to downstream software. Although timely applying security patches is the best practice to fix vulnerabilities, OSS users are hard to distinguish and prioritize security patches over tons of non-security patches (i.e., bug fixes, feature updates, etc.). Even worse, software vendors may silently release security patches without providing any explicit advisories. While users are unaware of security patches, attackers can still carefully inspect the patch code changes to exploit unpatched software. Therefore, automatically detecting security patches becomes imperative for software maintenance. In this defense, I will describe my research efforts to address the above problems. First, I will introduce an empirical study that reveals the insecure behavior of software vendors during maintenance and discloses the existence of silent (hidden) security patches. Second, I will present PatchDB, the first large-scale real-world patch dataset, that enables the training of data-hungry AI models for patch detection and facilitates future vulnerability/patch analysis research. An unsupervised method is developed to efficiently collect security patch samples from a huge number of unlabeled GitHub commits. Third, I will present GraphSPD, a novel graph learning-based approach for automated security patch detection. By combining rich semantic properties of both pre-patch code and post-patch code in a joint graph structure and adopting a tailored multi-attributed graph convolution network to adapt diverse attributes in a patch graph representation, GraphSPD demonstrates state-of-the-art performance and detects 88 new silent security patches in popular real-world GitHub projects. Finally, I will conclude by highlighting my research plan towards maximizing AI capabilities in automating the process of software vulnerability and patch management.

Speaker Bio

Xinda Wang received her Bachelor of Engineering from Harbin Institute of Technology in 2017 and Master of Science from George Mason University in 2022.