WeakSATD: detecting weak self-admitted technical debt
Speeding up development may produce technical debt, i.e., not-quite-right code for which the effort to make it right increases with time as a sort of interest. Developers may be aware of the debt as they admit it in their code comments. Literature reports that such a self-admitted technical debt survives for a long time in a program, but it is not yet clear its impact on the quality of the code on the long term. We argue that self-admitted technical debt contains a number of different weaknesses that may affect the security of a program. Therefore, the longer a debt is not paid back the higher is the risk that the weaknesses can be exploited. To discuss our claim and rise the developers’ awareness on the vulnerability of the self-admitted technical debt that are not paid back, we explore the self-admitted technical debt in the Chromium C-code to detect any known weaknesses. In this preliminary study, we first mine the Common Weakness Enumeration repository to define heuristics for the automatic detection and fix of weak code. Then, we parse the C-code to find self-admitted technical debt and the code block it refers to. Finally, we use the heuristics to find weak code snippets associated to self-admitted technical debt and recommend their potential mitigation to developers. Such knowledge can be used to prioritize self-admitted technical debt for repair. A prototype has been developed and applied to the Chromium code. Initial findings report that 55% of self-admitted technical debt code contains weak code of 14 different types.