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Security By Design - Design\Development Process

 
Greenhorn
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Hi,

how does security become baked into the design\development process ? Too often security is an after thought that is added at the end or code needs to be retrofitted, how best to avoid this.

Thanks,
Mark
 
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Hi Mark,

This is a tricky challenge indeed – the Secure by Design mindset is to address this from a design angle. By choosing designs that help making software better (e.g. in terms of CIA – Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability), developers don't need to primarily think about security. Instead security comes as a positive side effect. However, in some organizations or teams, design is seen as "gold plating" or something that goes against "good enough". In those situations, you might want to flip the argument and use security as a driver for good design. For example, by stating concerns found on OWASP top 10, you can motive why you need to choose certain design patterns.

But regardless of how your situation is, what's really important is to realize that security isn't a feature that exists in your backlog – it's a quality aspect that needs to be built into every part of your development process either explicitly or implicitly using good design.

Cheers,

/Daniel
 
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Daniel Deogun wrote:. . . in some organizations . . . design is seen as "gold plating" or something that goes against "good enough". . . .

If you are the end user, that attitude should worry you. If it is simple design for usability, you an tell the difference between a commercial website (e.g. Amazon) and a “compulsory” website, e.g. HMRC where I have to declare my income for tax. HMRC is much more difficult to navigate because they know there is no “competition” and Amazon is easy to navigate because they know the slightest difficulty will send potential customers scurrying to different sites.

If the “design” bit is about security, using that website means I am risking being one of the 750,000 people who have to change their card number because they were leaked to the criminal world six months ago It would be useful to know which websites do and don't design security as core to their programming.
 
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Daniel Deogun wrote:. . . in some organizations . . . design is seen as "gold plating" or something that goes against "good enough". . . .



Sure, until the CIO/CSO loses their job over a security breach caused by poor "design" and the incoming CIO/CSO starts "cultivating a culture of security."

Security starts with good design. Bad designs are inherently insecure, therefore it behooves any organization whose survival or longevity can be compromised by bad security practices to emphasize to everyone the utmost importance of good design. And "gold plating" is NOT the same as "good design," not by a long shot.
 
Junilu Lacar
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Daniel Deogun wrote:you might want to flip the argument and use security as a driver for good design. For example, by stating concerns found on OWASP top 10, you can motive why you need to choose certain design patterns.

But regardless of how your situation is, what's really important is to realize that security isn't a feature that exists in your backlog – it's a quality aspect that needs to be built into every part of your development process either explicitly or implicitly using good design.


Agreed, although in my experience, it's really the other quality attributes like maintainability, supportability, and testability that developers tend to use to drive good design. Having these and well-factored code makes it just so much easier to apply good security. No matter how much we try to shift security thinking to the left, there's only so much room on the left for it and it's usually already occupied by other quality concerns.
 
Junilu Lacar
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I do already own your book though, Daniel, and I'm excited to see you hanging out with us this week and answering questions. Thanks for the hard work you and your co-authors put into the book!
 
Daniel Deogun
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Thanks Junilu – I'm really glad you like our book!
 
Junilu Lacar
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Junilu Lacar wrote:it behooves any organization ... to emphasize to everyone


Glad to see this in the book (emphasis mine):

Authors of Secure by Design wrote:When you focus on design, security becomes the concern and interest of everyone, not only the experts.


 
Campbell Ritchie
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i think the bit about gold plating is to suggest something added last, rather than the core of the product.

A gold‑plated tap doesn't produce water any wetter than a chromium‑plated one, but it does look better. And it costs more.  So all my taps are chromium‑plated, and I make sure to get the old‑fashioned sort with rubber washers rather than ceramic discs, because I know I can replace a washer in ten minutes, if I can get the tap apart readily.
 
Junilu Lacar
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"Gold plating" in software development doesn't need to be added last. In general, these are features that are not "essential" but rather "bells and whistles" -- it's more speculative on the developer's part and driven mostly by things like "It sure would be cool to have..."
 
Campbell Ritchie
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It would be cool to have taps in my bath which produce water rather than vitriol. It would be cool to have security built in to any apps I use.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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It would be cool to have taps in my bath which produce beer rather than water. We are going to have the bathroom upgraded. Do you think Ruth would agree about such taps?
 
Junilu Lacar
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Campbell Ritchie wrote:It would be cool to have taps in my bath which produce water rather than vitriol. It would be cool to have security built in to any apps I use.


Vitriol? That bad, huh? Maybe move your TV away from the walls with pipes in them and stop tuning in to the news so much. Maybe that'll help.  

Campbell Ritchie wrote:It would be cool to have taps in my bath which produce beer rather than water.


That'd put a whole 'nother meaning to "having beer on tap," wouldn't it?  
 
Campbell Ritchie
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Junilu Lacar wrote:. . .  "having beer on tap," . . .

It's good for washing hair; you can (could) buy beer shampoo.

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