Definition

fault injection testing

Contributor(s): Alexander Gillis

Fault injection testing is a software testing method which deliberately introduces errors to a system to ensure it can withstand and recover from error conditions. Fault injection testing is typically carried out prior to deployment to uncover any potential faults that may have been introduced during production. Similar to stress testing, fault injection testing is used to identify specific weaknesses in a hardware or software system so they can be fixed or avoided.

Fault injection testing in software can be performed using either compile-time or runtime injections. Compile-time injection is a technique in which testers change the source code to simulate faults in the software system. These changes can be implemented by making modifications or mutations to the existing code, such as altering a line of code to represent a different value. Testers can also make changes to code by adding or inserting new code, such as including further logic values.

Runtime injection will use a software trigger to initiate injecting a fault to the software while it is running. A trigger can be set to inject a fault at a specified time, known as a time-based trigger. Triggers can also be set using trap mechanisms, which interrupts software at a specific location in the code or event in the system. This is known as an interrupt-based trigger.

Fault injection testing types

Fault injection is easily comparable to other types of testing such as chaos engineering. However, fault injection differs as it requires a specific approach to test a single condition. Fault injection testing can also be applied to hardware, as it will simulate hardware failures, such as shorted connections on circuit boards.

Benefits

Benefits to fault injection testing include:

  • Added software resilience.
  • Allows developers to see the results of bugs or errors before they occur naturally in production.
  • Allows developers to make changes to previously unknown issues before release.

Tools

Fault injection can be done manually, and does not require additional tools; however, tools can be used to help automate the process.

For example, the testing tool Library-level Fault Injector (LFI), will automatically identify errors and inject faults between libraries and applications. Fault Tolerance and Performance Evaluator (FTAPE) is another automated fault injection tool which allows for users to inject faults into memory and disk access. Additionally, the Xception tool can help automate the use of software triggers, which trigger faults to memory.

This was last updated in February 2019

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