Risk
8/30/2010
12:25 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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Microsoft Software Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) Unleashed

While many industry watchers may not acknowledge it, Microsoft has been one of the few software makers to put a serious, and highly public, effort behind the development of secure software. Now, much of what the company has learned about secure software development is going to be even more accessible.

While many industry watchers may not acknowledge it, Microsoft has been one of the few software makers to put a serious, and highly public, effort behind the development of secure software. Now, much of what the company has learned about secure software development is going to be even more accessible.Whether Microsoft has managed to improve the security of its software, and measurably reduce risk for its customers, is certainly up for debate. However, since the now famous Gates memo covered in this story in January 2002 highlighted, Microsoft got serious following an outbreak of worms and viruses targeting its software, including the Code Red and Nimda attacks.

The result was millions of dollars spent training Microsoft developers, threat modeling its applications during software design, and analyzing code for security defects during development and implementation.

One would expect, Microsoft to have learned and cultivated quite an amount of knowledge on how to implement a secure software development program, and David Ladd just announced on the company's SDL blog that more of that knowledge will be readily available and usable publicly:

Up to this point, Microsoft has released SDL information using a license that did not allow for reproduction, inclusion or transfer of any part of our documentation or process without express written consent from Microsoft.

I am happy to announce that from this point forward, Microsoft will be making our publicly available SDL documentation and other SDL process content available to the development community under a Creative Commons license. Specifically, we will be using the license that specifies Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share Alike (cc by-nc-sa) terms.

By changing the license terms, we are now allowing people and organizations to copy, distribute and transmit the documentation to others; this means that you can now incorporate content from the SDL documents we release under Creative Commons into your internal process documentation - subject to the terms specified by the Creative Commons license mentioned above.

The first documents released under the Creative Commons license will be the "Simplified Implementation of the Microsoft SDL" and Microsoft Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) - Version 5.0. Moving forward, Microsoft hopes to release case studies, whitepapers, and training materials and make them available over time.

This is certainly welcomed news. The question is: how many organizations will bother to put it to any use.

For my security and technology observations throughout the day, find me on Twitter.

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