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Incorporating security into development processes

Tilmann Haak’s presentation at this week’s TF-CSIRT/FIRST meeting was on incorporating security requirements into software development processes using agile methods, but his key points seem relevant to any style of software or system development:

  • Make sure security features are treated as first-class user requirement, of equal status with the functional requirements provided by others. We’ve all experienced products where security was clearly added afterwards; in agile if it doesn’t offer value to the customer then it won’t get added at all. So be prepared to explain the value that security brings to the customer.
  • Do that in terms the developers are used to working with. In agile that often means user stories, so alongside Tilmann’s “As a user I would like to buy candy from the machine” you need to place my “As a thief I would like to take the money that others have put in the machine”.
  • Provide developers with the tools they need to implement your requirements in their systems. Don’t just say “encrypt passwords in transmission and storage” – show them the libraries and implementation guidance that will enable them to do it right. Badly implemented security really is a waste of time, delivering no value to the customer.

By Andrew Cormack

I'm Chief Regulatory Advisor at Jisc, responsible for keeping an eye out for places where our ideas, services and products might raise regulatory issues. My aim is to fix either the product or service, or the regulation, before there's a painful bump!

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