Awareness continues to build for application security, the toolsets are evolving, and more organizations than ever have changed at least some of their processes to account for designing security into software. But the fact is that huge challenges still remain in delivering more secure software.
"The technology is often hard to use, introduces friction in automated processes, requires headcount to achieve the desired effectiveness, and improves much more slowly than software evolves. From a consumer perspective, the vendor marketplace is fragmented," says Sammy Migues, principal scientist for application security firm Synopsys. "Moreover, processes are in constant flux. There is debt in nearly every organization, with approaches built for waterfall ecosystems being molded into agile forms or DevOps shapes."
This industry condition provides the impetus for Synopsys' continuing drive to update the Building Security in Maturity Model (BSIMM), which endeavors to measure the use of major best (or, sometimes, bare minimum) practices in application security in use within large organizations. This week the firm released BSIMM9, which examines the use of 116 identified AppSec activities by 120 different firms. These activities are lumped into four major domains: Governance, Intelligence, Secure Software Development Lifecycle (SSDL) Touchpoints, and Deployment.
From there, they're further broken down into 12 major buckets of practice categories — this includes categories such as Strategy and Metrics, Attack Models, and Code Review. Each of these categories includes a number of activities that can be engaged in, from the very simple to the very complex and mature.
In examining activities with this context, BSIMM9 identified 12 activities that the majority of organizations typically engage in today. Most of them are very simple — meaning there's lots of room for improvement across the board — but they at least offer a glimpse into a simple benchmark for organizations as they look at their own internal practices.
"Although we can't directly conclude that these 12 activities are necessary for all software security initiatives, we can say with confidence that these activities are commonly found in highly successful initiatives," the BSIMM9 report states. "This suggests that if you are working on an initiative of your own, you should consider these 12 activities particularly carefully."