Securing Your Crypto-API Usage Through Tool Support-A Usability Study

Stefan Kruger, Michael Reif, Anna Katharina Wickert, Sarah Nadi, Karim Ali, Eric Bodden, Yasemin Acar, Mira Mezini, Sascha Fahl

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Developing secure software is essential for protecting passwords and other sensitive data. Despite the abundance of cryptographic libraries available to developers, prior work has shown that developers often unknowingly misuse the provided Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), resulting in serious security vulnerabilities. Eclipse CogniCrypt is an IDE plugin that aims at helping developers use cryptographic APIs more easily and securely by providing three main functionalities: (1) it provides a use-case-oriented view of cryptographic APIs and guides the developer through their configuration, (2) it generates the code needed to accomplish the chosen use case based on the selected choices, and (3) it continuously analyzes the developer's code to ensure that no API misuses are introduced later. However, so far the effectiveness of CogniCrypt was never empirically evaluated. In this work, we fill this gap through a controlled experiment with 24 Java developers. We evaluate the tool's effectiveness in reducing API misuses and saving developer time. The results show that CogniCrypt significantly improves code security and also speeds up development for cryptography-related tasks. The feedback received during the study suggests that developers particularly appreciate CogniCrypt's code generation. Its static-Analysis is valued for keeping the code up-To-date. Yet, the further integration of generated code into a developer's project still presents a major challenge. Nonetheless, our results show that CogniCrypt effectively helps application developers produce more secure code.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2023 IEEE Secure Development Conference, SecDev 2023
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9798350331325
StatePublished - 2023
Event2023 IEEE Secure Development Conference, SecDev 2023 - Atlanta, United States
Duration: Oct 18 2023Oct 20 2023

Publication series

NameProceedings - 2023 IEEE Secure Development Conference, SecDev 2023


Conference2023 IEEE Secure Development Conference, SecDev 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • cryptography
  • security
  • software engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Software


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