A Qualitative Usability Evaluation of the Clang Static Analyzer and libFuzzer with CS Students and CTF Players


Stephan Plöger, Fraunhofer FKIE; Mischa Meier, University of Bonn; Matthew Smith, University of Bonn, Fraunhofer FKIE


Testing software for bugs and vulnerabilities is an essential aspect of secure software development. Two paradigms are particularly prevalent in this domain: static and dynamic software testing. Static analysis has seen widespread adoption across the industry, while dynamic analysis, in particular fuzzing, has recently received much attention in academic circles as well as being used very successfully by large corporations such as Google, where for instance, over 20,000 bugs have been found and fixed in the Chrome project alone. Despite these kinds of success stories, fuzzing has not yet seen the kind of industry adoption static analysis has.

To get first insights, we examine the usability of the static analyzer Clang Static Analyzer and the fuzzer libFuzzer. To this end, we conducted the first qualitative usability evaluation of the Clang Static Analyzer and libFuzzer. We conducted a mixed factorial design study with 32 CS masters students and six competitive Capture the Flag (CTF) players. Our results show that our participants encountered severe usability issues trying to get libFuzzer to run at all.

In contrast to that, most of our participants were able to run the Clang Static Analyzer without significant problems. This shows that, at least in this case, the usability of libFuzzer was worse than of the Clang Static Analyzer. We make suggestions on how libFuzzer could be improved and how both tools compare.

SOUPS 2021 Open Access Videos Sponsored by

Open Access Media

USENIX is committed to Open Access to the research presented at our events. Papers and proceedings are freely available to everyone once the event begins. Any video, audio, and/or slides that are posted after the event are also free and open to everyone. Support USENIX and our commitment to Open Access.

@inproceedings {274469,
author = {Stephan Pl{\"o}ger and Mischa Meier and Matthew Smith},
title = {A Qualitative Usability Evaluation of the Clang Static Analyzer and {libFuzzer} with {CS} Students and {CTF} Players},
booktitle = {Seventeenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS 2021)},
year = {2021},
isbn = {978-1-939133-25-0},
pages = {553--572},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/soups2021/presentation/ploger},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

Presentation Video