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Do Users Write More Insecure Code with AI Assistants?

Neil Perry, Megha Srivastava, Deepak Kumar, and Dan Boneh. 2023. Do Users Write More Insecure Code with AI Assistants?. In Proceedings of the 2023 ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS ’23), November 26–30, 2023, Copenhagen, Denmark. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 16 pages.

“We conducted the first user study examining how people interact with an AI code assistant (built with OpenAI’s Codex) to solve a variety of security related tasks across different programming languages. We observed that participants who had access to the AI assistant were more likely to introduce security vulnerabilities for the majority of programming tasks, yet were also more likely to rate their insecure answers as secure compared to those in our control group. Additionally, we found that participants who invested more in the creation of their queries to the AI assistant, such as providing helper functions or adjusting the parameters, were more likely to eventually provide secure solutions. Finally, to conduct this study, we created a User Interface specifically designed to explore the consequences of people using AI-based code generation tools to write software. We released our UI as well as all user prompt and interaction data to encourage further research on the variety of ways users may choose to interact with AI code assistants.”

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