Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

8/18/2020
10:00 AM
John Worrall
John Worrall
Commentary
50%
50%

Why Quality & Security Both Matter in Software

It's time to position quality and security as equals under the metric of software integrity.

Software has forever revolutionized traditional product development. It's what sets companies apart — the ultimate competitive advantage. But it has to be done right.

You can't just ship software. You are expected to deliver high-quality, secure software to realize measurable business benefits, such as enhanced productivity and lower total cost of ownership (TCO). And ultimately, the goal is to make the end user's life better in some meaningful way.

But what, exactly, does "quality" and "secure" software mean? Does good quality software automatically mean it's secure? And if it's really secure, can it be considered inherently high quality? Are they actually the same thing? Well, it's complicated. But for CISOs responsible for ensuring security across software development, untangling these questions is critical.

Define First, Measure Second
Because you can't measure what you can't define, let's start with definitions. Quality software "will execute according to intended design and purpose based on business functionality." Secure software "won't put systems or data at risk of unauthorized access." There's a clear relationship between the two — one that's highlighted in guidance from the authoritative American Society of Quality, which positions security as a key element of software quality.  

Not My Job, Not My Problem
We can blame history for this quality vs. security conundrum. Since the days of linear, waterfall-style development, quality has been king for development teams. They didn't have to think about security — that was security's job. Meanwhile, security worked separately but had the unenviable job of rushing in to "bolt on" fixes at the 11th hour, slowing things down and building contention between the two teams.

Fast-forward to today and it's easy to see why this model won't fly. In the first half of 2019 alone, 3,813 breaches were reported, exposing over 4.1 billion records and costing victim organizations $3.2 million on average. And that's just the breaches we know about. Organizations simply cannot afford to keep security in the backseat — the business and reputational risks are too high.

Call Them What You Want, They're All Problems
It's a fact that humans make mistakes. Plus, many teams just don't have the tools or capabilities to enable the creation of error-free code. Add in constant pressure to move ever-faster and quality issues can quickly turn into security nightmares. Many breaches can be traced back to bugs (that cause software to deviate from its purpose) or underlying quality defects (like the failure to properly delineate code from data or sufficiently validate and filter input). Even if code is designed flawlessly, it's just one cross-site scripting (XSS) attack away from a security breach. It's safe to say a malicious code injection isn't just a security problem. It's also a major quality issue.

Companies create software to fulfill a customer need. That is software's primary business function. If we can agree this is true, then it's safe to assume ignoring unsecure software is not an option.

Four Steps Toward DevSecOps
Security has to become everyone's responsibility. As development, security, and operations start to blend and align to address current realities, security is finally claiming its rightful spot — side by side with quality. While still relatively new, DevSecOps methodology is gaining traction with 8% of companies securing 75% or more of their cloud-native applications with DevSecOps practices today — a number that's expected to jump to 68% in two years.

But this doesn't happen overnight. Embracing this new model requires a significant cultural shift: Developers must buy into the notion that quality software hinges on built-in security at every phase of development. Not only that, they need to view security as a significant piece of their own work.

Here are four specific steps your organization can take right now to start changing mindsets and driving transformation:

  • Take a top-down approach. "Security is everyone's job." This mindset should start at (and come from) the top.

  • Involve security in developer training. For example, conduct "post-mortem" education, sharing source code repositories and establishing authentication/encryption libraries.

  •  Embed consistent security across development. Integrate security scanning consistently across the software development life cycle (SDLC) and monitor all issues in a uniform, centralized way to close detection gaps and maintain a full view of risk.

  • Take advantage of automation. Deploying automated testing on every code commit will help you catch vulnerabilities earlier and cut through the noise so developers can prioritize efforts.

Quality has to translate into secure products. As DevSecOps takes hold, it's time to position quality and security as equals under the metric of software integrity. And CISOs, it's up to you to articulate the value of this symbiotic relationship to your organization, ensuring software can fulfill its ultimate business function of satisfying and protecting the customer in equal measure.

Related Content:

John Worrall has more than 25 years of leadership, strategy, and operational experience across early stage and established cybersecurity brands. In his current role as CEO at ZeroNorth, he leads the company's efforts to help customers bolster security across the software life ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Commentary
Ransomware Is Not the Problem
Adam Shostack, Consultant, Entrepreneur, Technologist, Game Designer,  6/9/2021
Edge-DRsplash-11-edge-ask-the-experts
How Can I Test the Security of My Home-Office Employees' Routers?
John Bock, Senior Research Scientist,  6/7/2021
News
New Ransomware Group Claiming Connection to REvil Gang Surfaces
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  6/10/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
The State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
In this report learn how enterprises are building their incident response teams and processes, how they research potential compromises, how they respond to new breaches, and what tools and processes they use to remediate problems and improve their cyber defenses for the future.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-32697
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-21
neos/forms is an open source framework to build web forms. By crafting a special `GET` request containing a valid form state, a form can be submitted without invoking any validators. Form state is secured with an HMAC that is still verified. That means that this issue can only be exploited if Form F...
CVE-2020-19510
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-21
Textpattern 4.7.3 contains an aribtrary file load via the file_insert function in include/txp_file.php.
CVE-2020-19511
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-21
Cross Site Scriptiong vulnerability in Typesetter 5.1 via the !1) className and !2) Description fields in index.php/Admin/Classes,
CVE-2021-21422
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-21
mongo-express is a web-based MongoDB admin interface, written with Node.js and express. 1: As mentioned in this issue: https://github.com/mongo-express/mongo-express/issues/577, when the content of a cell grows larger than supported size, clicking on a row will show full document unescaped, however ...
CVE-2021-0532
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-21
In memory management driver, there is a possible memory corruption due to a race condition. This could lead to local escalation of privilege with no additional execution privileges needed. User interaction is not needed for exploitation.Product: AndroidVersions: Android SoCAndroid ID: A-185196177