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ISC2 To Offer Certification For Software Lifecycle Security

The designation aims to reduce application vulnerabilities by encouraging use of best practices for safeguarding security in software development, deployment, and disposal.

The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, or (ISC)2, will offer a new certification based on practices and expertise that attempts to reduce the number of application vulnerabilities.

The not-for-profit group that educates and certifies information security professionals is preparing materials for the Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional designation.

The CSSLP establishes best practices and validates individual competency for incorporating security safeguards into the entire software life cycle. The certification is code-language neutral.

It applies to all people involved in the software life cycle, including analysts, developers, software engineers, software architects, project managers, software quality assurance testers, and programmers. It covers vulnerabilities, risk, information security fundamentals, and compliance.

"Unsecured software is not only a danger to the enterprise, it can cause higher production costs and delays for the software developer, and require additional staff for the end user as well," said W. Hord Tipton, executive director of (ISC)2. "The CSSLP will be a key component in better critical infrastructure protection, reducing the risk of software malpractice suits, and enabling stricter adherence to industry and government regulations."

Howard A. Schmidt, (ISC)2 board member and president of the Information Security Forum, said that more than 70% of security vulnerabilities reside in applications.

"All too often, security is bolted on at the end of the software life cycle as a response to a threat or after an exposure," he said. "The time to act is now, because new applications that lack basic security controls are being developed every day, and thousands of existing vulnerabilities are being ignored."

Tipton explained that security is often an afterthought in the process of application development. He stressed the need for those involved in all parts of the software life cycle to make security a top priority from the moment an idea is conceived.

"It has to be baked in," Tipton said during a recent interview.

He said security considerations should be up front in seven domains: developing requirements; designing software; coding; testing; acceptance; deployment, operations, and maintenance; and disposal. Tipton explained that incorporating security into all stages of the software life cycle is likely to save time and money in the end.

Microsoft, Symantec, Cisco, Xerox, Frost & Sullivan, and a variety of other organizations support the new certification.

Paul Kurtz, executive director of SAFECode, said that as global dependence on information and communications technology has grown, users are increasingly concerned about software security.

"By offering software professionals a means to increase and validate their knowledge of best practices in securing applications throughout the development life cycle, (ISC)2's CSSLP is helping the industry take an important step forward in addressing the 'people' part of the solution," he said.

Alan Paller, director of research for SANS Institute, pointed to an increase in attacks through organized crime and said software security is a top priority.

Professionals will need to have four years of experience or three years of experience and the equivalent of a four-year degree to be eligible. The exam, scheduled to debut at the end of June 2009, will cost $599.

(ISC)2 is seeking qualified professionals to help develop materials and the exam and to provide an initial assessment. They will become the first CSSLP holders. The application process is open until March 31. Education seminars will begin in the first quarter.

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