How Effective are Smart Contract Static Analysis Tools ? Evaluating Smart Contract Static Analysis Tools Using Bug Injection

Asem Ghaleb and Karthik Pattabiraman, Proceedings of the ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on Software Testing and Analysis (ISSTA), 2020. [PDF | Talk] (Acceptance Rate: 26%) (DataSet, CodeArtifacts Functional Badge)

Abstract: Security attacks targeting smart contracts have been on the rise, which have led to financial loss and erosion of trust. Therefore, it is important to enable developers to discover security vulnerabilities in smart contracts before deployment. A number of static analysis tools have been developed for finding security bugs in smart contracts. However, despite the numerous bug-finding tools, there is no systematic approach to evaluate the proposed tools and gauge their effectiveness. This paper proposes SolidiFI, an automated and systematic approach for evaluating smart contracts’ static analysis tools. SolidiFI is based on injecting bugs (i.e., code defects) into all potential locations in a smart contract to introduce targeted security vulnerabilities. SolidiFI then checks the generated buggy contract using the static analysis tools, and identifies the bugs that the tools are unable to detect (false-negatives) along with identifying the bugs reported as false-positives. SolidiFI is used to evaluate six widely-used static analysis tools, namely, Oyente, Securify, Mythril, SmartCheck, Manticore, and Slither, using a set of 50 contracts injected by 9369 distinct bugs. It finds several instances of bugs that are not detected by the evaluated tools despite their claims of being able to detect such bugs, and all the tools report many false positives.

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