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Making the Composition of Secure Software Second Nature

For all the publicity surrounding software vulnerabilities and successful exploits, we as an industry don’t seem to be rigorously incorporating effective approaches for making software more secure. Many resources are available to educate people involved in software creation regarding security. Further, tools and libraries exist which simplify the redundant aspects of secure software composition.

There are also well-known concepts that have been applied to physical and network security for many years which are equally effective when designing and implementing software. Concepts such as Security in Depth, Least Privilege, Segregation of Duties and Audit Trails serve us well when applied to programming. Tools such as the OWASP and Apache libraries simplify the process of sanitizing and normalizing data received from users and external systems. Automated inspection tools, static and dynamic, help us to identify and remove vulnerabilities in our implementations.

Those who architect, design, implement and test software must understand the typical risks created by different aspects of an application’s architecture in order to leverage appropriate techniques to reduce the likelihood of a vulnerability being released. Further, we should assume vulnerabilities will be found and exploited. Our designs must include features to limit the extent of damage such an exploit would create.

In this category’s posts I will concentrate on the classifications of vulnerabilities and effective techniques that we should apply when creating software. Hopefully this will help to raise awareness surrounding security-centric due diligence that is expected from those of us who participate in the process of authoring software.

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