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5/19/2009
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Microsoft Offers Free Template For Secure Software Development Process

SDL Process Template plugs directly into development tools

Microsoft today gave developers yet another free tool for adopting its Secure Development Lifecycle (SDL) program for secure coding -- a process template for incorporating SDL into their software development program.

The the SDL Process Template integrates Microsoft's SDL directly into third-party and enterprise software development environments. "It's a process template that bolts into Visual Studio and will help organizations in the adoption of SDL," says David Ladd, principal security program manager for Microsoft's SDL team.

Microsoft first beganopening up its internal Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) framework last fall to its third-party application developers and customers in the spirit of helping promote more secure software. Its SDL Optimization Model and SDL Threat Modeling Tool have been available for free since November, when the company also officially launched its SDL Pro Network of service providers, consulting, and training organizations including Cigital, IOActive, NGS Software, n.runs AG, and Verizon Business, which help developers deploy the SDL.

In addition to the template, Microsoft today also announced SDL Version 4.1 documentation, which includes updates to prior SDL requirements and recommendations, as well as online services and line-of-business application development guidelines. The software giant also announced two new members of its SDL Pro Network, the SANS Institute and SAIC.

Meanwhile, the new Process Template can help organizations better measure security, according to Microsoft's Ladd. The template contains dashboards, up-to-the-minute views of the development process, compliance status, and it gauges the effectiveness of security tools the organization is using in the SDL process, he says. It provides a way to measure the return on investment in security, he says.

The template automatically integrates SDL's policy, process, and tools, and handles security vulnerabilities, and sets up SDL requirements as work items in the development environment. It is tied heavily to Visual Studio, but Microsoft says developers can use the company's existing SDL XML schema tools to extend the template to other development environments.

"Visual Studio is a natural home for the template," Ladd says. "There are hundreds of thousands of people using [Visual Studio] on a daily basis."

It makes sense for Microsoft to pair the template first with Visual Studio, security experts say. "In general, I'd say that you have to start somewhere, and Microsoft will likely have the best success with integration into its own tools focused on its large development community," says Jon Oltsik, senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group Enterprise. "If it continues to resource this effort and gains momentum in its base, it can take SDL to the broader market over time."

Oltsik says adoption of Microsft's SDL by third party application developers is still in the early stages. "Things are rolling out slowly, but this is more a function of the esoteric topic -- secure software development -- and the fact that SDL is not a Microsoft profit center [rather] than the [poor] economy," Oltsik says. Microsoft's Ladd says the key is that these SDL tools make secure coding simple. "The fact that we have simplified things allows organizations to get security gains, and not having to have all of their development teams be security experts. That's very important for us," Ladd says.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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