An Empirical Study of Security Issues Posted in Open Source Projects

Mansooreh Zahedi, Muhammad Ali Babar, Christoph Treude

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


When developers gain thorough understanding and knowledge of software security, they can produce more secure software. This study aims at empirically identifying and understanding the security issues posted on a random sample of GitHub repositories. We tried to understand the presence of security issues and their key themes and topics. We applied a mixed-methods approach, combining topic modeling techniques and qualitative analysis. Our findings have revealed that a) the rate of security-related issues was rather small (approx. 3% of all issues), b) the majority of the security issues were related to identity management and cryptography topics. We present 7 high-level themes of problems that developers face in implementing security features.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS)
Number of pages10
Place of PublicationHawaii, Manoa
Publication date2018
ISBN (Print)978-0-9981331-1-9
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Software Security
  • Empirical Software Engineering
  • GitHub
  • Repository Mining
  • Topic Modeling
  • qualitative research


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