ABSTRACT: Improper Input Validation (IIV) is a software vulnerability that occurs when a system does not safely handle input data. Even though IIV is easy to detect and fix, it still commonly happens in practice. In this paper, we study to what extent developers can detect IIV and investigate underlying reasons. This knowledge is essential to better understand how to support developers in creating secure software systems. We conduct an online experiment with 146 participants, of which 105 report at least three years of professional software development experience. Our results show that the existence of a visible attack scenario facilitates the detection of IIV vulnerabilities and that a significant portion of developers who did not find the vulnerability initially could identify it when warned about its existence. Yet, a total of 60 participants could not detect the vulnerability even after the warning. Other factors, such as the frequency with which the participants perform code reviews, influence the detection of IIV.
Recommended citation: Larissa Braz, Enrico Fregran, Gül Çalikli, Alberto Bacchelli. (2021). “Why don’t Developers Detect Improper Input Validation?; DROP TABLE Papers;–.” Proceedings of The 43rd International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE). 499-511.