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William Franco
William Franco

FxCop ? .NET Framework Security Analysis Tool __HOT__


Many software teams use code reviews to ensure that developers are writing correct, secure code that adheres to the company's design guidelines. These guidelines might outline naming conventions, patterns to use for accessing data or other external resources, and so on. Many aspects of the code review process are rather mechanical and can be automated. Static code analysis tools scan through source code or intermediate code and search for violations of defined design guideline rules.




FxCop – .NET Framework Security Analysis Tool



One such static analysis tool for applications within the Microsoft .NET Framework is FxCop (version 1.36), a free tool created by Microsoft. FxCop analyzes the intermediate code of a compiled .NET assembly and provides suggestions for design, security, and performance improvements. By default, FxCop analyzes an assembly based on the rules set forth by Design Guidelines for Developing Class Libraries. The design guideline rules are divided into nine categories, including design, globalization, performance, and security, among others. An example of a naming rule is, "Events should not have 'before' or 'after' prefix." If FxCop identifies an event named BeforeUpdate, it will recommend replacing BeforeUpdate with a present-tense version of the event name (namely, Update). You can also plug in a custom rules class that reflects your company's internal design guidelines.


Another static code analysis tool from Microsoft is StyleCop (version 4.3). Whereas FxCop evaluates design guidelines against intermediate code, StyleCop evaluates the style of C# source code. Style guidelines are rules that specify how source code should be formatted. They dictate whether spaces or tabs should be used for indentation and the format of for loops, if statements, and other constructs. Example StyleCop rules include: the body of for statements should be wrapped in opening and closing curly brackets; there should be white space on both sides of the = and != operators; and calls to member variables within a class must begin with "this.".


While FxCop and StyleCop pinpoint rule violations, the developer is still responsible for implementing these tools' suggestions. CodeIt.Right (version 1.1) from SubMain takes static code analysis to the next level by enabling rule violations to be automatically refactored into conforming code. Like FxCop, CodeIt.Right ships with an extensive set of predefined rules, based on the design guidelines document mentioned earlier, with the ability to add custom rules. But CodeIt.Right makes it much easier to create and use custom rules.


Static code analysis tools provide a fast, automated way to ensure that your source code adheres to predefined design and style guidelines. Following such guidelines helps produce more uniform code and also can point out potential security, performance, interoperability, and globalization shortcomings. Static code analysis tools are not a replacement for human-led code reviews. Rather, they can generate a first pass of the code base and highlight areas that require more attention from a senior developer.


Unlike StyleCop, or the Lint programming tool, for the C programming language, FxCop analyzes the compiled object code, not the original source code. It uses CIL parsing and callgraph analysis to inspect assemblies for more than 200 different possible coding standards violations in the following areas:


FxCop includes both GUI and command line versions of the tool. Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 and Visual Studio 2008 Team System Development Editions both include a "Code Analysis" feature based on FxCop. For Visual Studio 2010 the corresponding, and slightly enhanced, static code analysis features are included in the Premium and Ultimate editions. FxCop 10.0 is included in the Microsoft Windows SDK for Windows 7.[1]


FxCop provides a tool to help developers to follow their company's coding standards. FxCop does code analysis to check whether the new code is compliant with the coding standards and naming conventions followed by the company. FxCop will ensure that the specified rules are used in the source code.


There are several tools that perform Static Code Analysis on compiled assemblies. These tools typically check for patterns of behavior that can be problematic at runtime. Since these tools run after compilation, rather than during it, they are able to examine more than just the syntax of your code; they are able to look at all aspects of the assembly, including its physical structure and metadata as well as its logical behavior (also known as semantic analysis).


FxCop is a static code analysis tool that checks for compliance with the Microsoft .NET Framework Design Guidelines. It is a free tool that developers can use to find problems in their code. You can run FxCop by using the command line or the integrated development environment (IDE) of Visual Studio.


A customer is requiring us to use some form of static code analysis and they are accepting the free tools offered by Microsoft. Years ago, we used to use FxCop until Microsoft deprecated it and we removed it. Implementing FxCop was fairly simple - we enabled it in our project files and set up a code analysis rule set file that we linked into each project file. Pretty easy.


I see that Microsoft has yet another set of static code analysis tool - the flavor of today appears to be "Microsoft.CodeAnalysis.NetAnalyzers". I've read through a lot of documentation and I can't find a clear guide to implement this new tool for apps targeting older .NET Frameworks - there is plenty of info on doing this on .NET 5, but we are nowhere near ready for such an undertaking.


Although the .NET framework contains all kinds of exception types which are sufficient in most cases, it can make sense to define custom exceptions in your own applications. They can greatly simplify and improve the error handling and thus increase the overall code quality. Whatever your reasons are for using custom exceptions, this article shows you how to create them and what to pay attention to when it comes to serialization, .NET guidelines and analysis tools.


Automated code analysis has been a feature of .NET since its earliest days. It started out with tools that would detect when library components didn't meet the Framework Design Guidelines, but over the years, more and more sophisticated tools have become available.


However, if you read the Frequently asked questions about legacy FxCop and .NET analyzers it will tell you that maybe you don't need that. At one point Visual Studio offered its own built-in code analysis features that incorporated some of the same checks, but those eventually started using the Roslyn analyzers instead, although there's still a Visual Studio user interface for them. And although this UI has switched to using the analyzers, the RunCodeAnalysis msbuild setting still runs the old standalone FxCop tool. And all that just for one particular kind of analysis! Some other popular analyzers started out as Visual Studio extensions, but have turned into NuGet packages (e.g., Roslynator).


Alternatively, you can choose which particular kinds of analysis you're most interested in. Perhaps you are writing an application that will never need to be localized, and so you don't care to see any warnings for that, but you do want to see all available security analysis warnings, and want to stick with the recommended levels for everything else, in which case you could write this:


Microsoft recommended code quality rules and .NET API usage rules, including the most important FxCop rules, implemented as analyzers using the .NET Compiler Platform (Roslyn). These analyzers check your code for security, performance, and design issues, among others. The documentation for FxCop analyzers can be found at -quality/install-fxcop-analyzers


This does not come with a requirement to add any dependencies to your solutions and projects. Instead, the code analysis tools run from your developer box when you want them to. Most often when you build your code, or if it is a Linter, it runs as you type.


So we now have three tools from Microsoft (two of which are almost the same) which all perform some aspect of code analysis. These tools are released by different teams within Microsoft and provide varying levels of integration with the Visual Studio development environment.


[The] code analysis for managed code tool analyzes managed assemblies and reports information about the assemblies, such as violations of the programming and design rules set forth in the Microsoft .NET Framework Design Guidelines.


StyleCop is similar to FxCop, but it provides a different function and is, in fact, complementary to either FxCop or Code Analysis. (Note that it only works on C# source files.) It is mostly concerned with coding style and formatting. As such, it is run against source files, not assemblies like the other two analysis tools. It can be run from inside Visual Studio:


The Best Static Code Analysis Tools1. SonarQubeSonarQube sample debugging error messageSonarQube is one of the more popular static code analysis tools out there. It is an open-source platform for continuous inspection of code quality and performs automatic reviews via static code analysis. In addition, it can detect and report bugs, code smells, and numerous other security vulnerabilities.


SonarQube is our top pick for a static code analysis tool because its four editions make it suitable for all types of organizations. The Community Edition is feature-rich, including security analysis as well as bug identification and it is ideal for development environments. Large multi-national businesses can also use this system where there are multiple rollouts happening simultaneously all over the world. The tool can easily be integrated into CI/CD pipelines to provide continuous testing and the integrations with project management and bug tracking tools mean that rewrites can be scheduled automatically, keeping track of project progress, worker allocation, and costs. The paid versions are available for a free trial.


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