Soc Application

Static analysis for PHP
The following text was submitted as my proposal for Google's Summer of Code 2006:

Project Title
  Using static analysis to find vulnerabilities

  Applications which are written in PHP usually deal with users and
  other external sources of data. This external data should always 
  be processed in such a way that it cannot do any harm to the 
  application itself or the system it is running on. Since programmers
  are usually just like normal people they sometimes forget to 
  process input properly. A beginning programmer doesn't even
  know that input can be dangerous. 
  With the use of a statical analysis of the source code 
  of an application, 'dangerous' data can be tracked
  down and the unsafe use can be reported to the programmer.
  Tools for this analysis can be built with the help of
  Stratego/XT [1].

Benefits to the PHP Community
  The main benefit will be that programmers are able to find
  vulnerabilities in an automated way. Testing applications will
  be easier and this can decrease the amount of bugs in applications.
  The community will also get a basis for building more
  programs that can be used to improve their code. The PHC [2] has
  some ideas for this [3].

  1: A parser for the latest PHP 4 version validated against the
     test suite of the distribution.
  2: A parser for the latest PHP 5 version validated against the
     test suite of the distribution.
  3: A tool that can analyse a PHP script to find possible
     vulnerabilities. The percentage of false positives should
     not be above 40%.
  4: A description about the method used and problems encountered.

Project Details
  This project will be built with the help of Stratego/XT. There is
  already an (incomplete) syntax definition in SDF of PHP that
  is made by Eelco Dolstra [6]. This is done in the context of
  the StringBorg [5] framework and based on the Bison/Flex
  definition of PHP itself. This SDF is not yet complete
  but provides a very good structure to make the tool to
  parse scripts to an Abstract Syntax Tree.

  The project will start with the development of a SDF that can parse
  all the test files in the current releases. This only includes the
  real code of the test-files, not the specific declaration
  of the environment. This code should be parsed and pretty-printed.
  After this transformation the output should be the
  same as the input.

  The second part of the project will consist of making a
  tool that statically analyzes the source code of an application
  for vulnerabilities. This tool will be able to see if the programmer
  uses variables that are not safe. For example the printing of a
  GET-variable that is not escaped. To detect this the tool will use
  the concepts of data-flow analysis.

Project Schedule
  May    23, 2006: Start of the project. Starting to work on the
                   SDF grammars.

  June   26, 2006: The SDF should be finished and the test-files
                   should be parsed correctly.

  June   27, 2006: Starting to work on the static analysis.

  July 8-15, 2006: No progress. Student is away with the scouts
                   on camp.

  August  1, 2006: The tool should be able to give useful feedback
                   when parsing an open source PHP project.

  August 21, 2006: End of the project. All tools are finished.

Project references
  During the development of this proposal I stumbled upon Pixy[4].
  A Java tool that is based on the idea of data flow analysis.
  This project will do something similar. It will extend the
  analysis with the support of the object-oriented features of
  PHP. Apart from that it will provide a solid basis to create
  other tools.

  Another source of inspiration is PHC [2]. The problem with this
  is that one should use c++ to work with it. I think that it
  is easier to develop programs that transform/analyse source
  code in Stratego/XT instead of c++ because Stratego/XT is
  specifically made for this purpose.

  I am currently following the Master Program Software Technology
  at the Utrecht University. Before that I have completed
  the Bachelor program at the same university. I also followed
  the teacher training for primary education at the Marnix
  Academie [8].
  Apart from my study I work 1.5 days as a teacher
  in the first grade of a primary school. I'm also active in
  the scouts movement of The Netherlands [9].
  An activity is the work with 'Team Internet'. We develop and
  maintain the system that is used to record and manage all
  information related to all members of the scouts organization
  in the Netherlands. This system is completely written in PHP.
  This project can help us in the search for vulnerabilities
  and provides a basis to make more tools that support our
  Apart from this practical aspect there is another motivation
  for this project. By giving the right feedback to people that use
  this tool, they can learn from their mistakes. My teacher-part
  really likes that idea.

If there are any questions please contact me by e-mail.

[4] Pixy: A Static Analysis Tool for Detecting Web Application Vulnerabilities

-- EricBouwers - 08 Sep 2006