What is Secure Software Architecture, Design, Implementation and Assurance?

Software security assurance is a process that helps design and implements software that protects the data and resources contained in and controlled by that software. Software is itself a resource and thus must be afforded appropriate security. The number of threats specifically targeting software is increasing, the security of our software that we produce or procure must be assured. "Dependence on information technology makes software assurance a key element of business continuity, national security, and homeland security.

Why do you need Software Architecture, Design, Implementation, and Assurance?

Society’s increased dependency on networked software systems has been matched by an increase in the number of attacks aimed at these systems. These attacks--directed at organizations and individuals--have resulted in loss and compromise of sensitive data, system damage, lost productivity, and financial loss. While many of the attacks on the Internet today are merely a nuisance, there is growing evidence that criminals, terrorists, and other malicious actors view vulnerabilities in software systems as a tool to reach their goals. Current security engineering methods are demonstrably inadequate, as software vulnerabilities are currently being reported to the CERT/CC at a rate of over 4,000 per year. These vulnerabilities are caused by software designs and implementations that do not adequately protect systems and by development practices that do not focus sufficiently on eliminating implementation defects that result in security flaws. An opportunity exists for systematic improvement that can lead to secure software architectures, designs, and implementations.

Ways to implement security in your software architecture design

1. Assess The Landscape

Begin the cycle with a strong understanding of what the customer wants. Here’s how to make that happen: 1.Establish the scope and boundaries 2.Identify stakeholders 3.Identify process gaps 4.Institute tailored security-centric processes scaled to the organization and project scope

Incorporate an industry-standard security model

Secure the software you’re building from the beginning. This is the most cost-effective way to minimize the ‘test-patch-retest’ cycle that often negatively affects the budget and schedule goals near the end of the life cycle. Integrate a trusted maturity model into your SDLC to infuse best practices and solid security design principles into the organization. The Building Security in Maturity Model (BSIMM) acts as a measuring stick that pinpoints strengths and weaknesses in your current security initiative. A BSIMM assessment can help your firm create data-driven goals.

Educate personnel on software security

Ensure that all personnel involved in the project are knowledgeable and up-to-date with software security standards to reduce insecure design and development practices. Investing in training your staff is scalable, and aligns with the overall organization and the scope of each software development project at hand. The benefits resulting in a well-trained staff span all software development projects and can be an enterprise-wide asset.

Assign responsibility for software security

To ensure that software security is incorporated into the SDLC, formally assign responsibility for it. Depending on the size of your organization, creating a software security group (SSG) is an effective way to educate, assess, and enforce established security measures across the organization. This is key to maintaining change and risk management as your organization scales up, without degrading or ignoring security altogether. The SSG should act as the subject matter experts in software security, facilitating and conducting third-party security assessments during critical stages within the SDLC.

Perform security-focused requirements gathering

Tailor your organization’s approach to generating security requirements as a part of the initial phase. This approach will aid in embedding a solid security mindset throughout the SDLC. Generate abuse and misuse cases and perform an initial risk analysis during the requirements gathering phase to promote security activities in additional phases within the SDLC. This will also drive focus on testability when generating requirements.

Establish and institute a comprehensive risk management process

It is critical to your SDLC’s success to identify major risks and execute a mitigation plan. These are also key aspects to:
1. Ensure proper security design
2. Ensure an effective guide in SDLC execution in terms of:
3. Controlling scope-creep
4. Staying within budget and schedule goals
Engaging with stakeholders

Perform architecture reviews and threat modeling

It is far more cost-effective to identify and remediate design flaws early in the design process than to patch flawed design implementations once the software is deployed. Along with threat modeling, architecture risk analysis is a critical tool to detect design flaws. Flaws are identified by: 1.Analyzing fundamental design principles 2.Assessing the attack surface 3.Enumerating various threat agents 4.Identifying weaknesses and gaps in security controls

Carry out code reviews during implementation

Along with secure coding standards and static code analyses, perform a secure code review as a condition to passing a release gate. This drastically reduces the number of bugs escaping into the finished product. An effective defect containment and management system also aid in prioritization and tracking defects to resolution.

Execute test plans and perform penetration tests

Execute the test plans during the verification phase. This will verify whether the product performs as expected in runtime scenarios. Penetration tests assess how the product handles various abuse cases, including:
1.Malformed input handling
2.Business logic flaws
3.Authentication/authorization bypass attempts
4.Overall security posture

Deploy software product

Generate a deployment plan. This is essential to a successful release to production once thorough QA and acceptance testing is complete. The plan should detail the environment in which the software will operate and the steps for configuration and launch. Plans for software maintenance and a change management process should be in place at this stage to efficiently handle any bugs or enhancement requests that come out of production. Rollback plans and disaster recovery requirements in this phase also help ensure continued customer confidence.

Our Secure Software Architecture services

• Train each project team with security awareness.
• Identify shared infrastructure or services with security functionality.
• Establish a set of general design patterns representing sound methods of implementing security functionality.
• Build a set of reference architectures that select and combine a verified set of security components to ensure a proper design of security.
• Monitor weaknesses or gaps in the set of security solutions available in your organization continuously in the context of discussions on architecture, development, or operations.

Benefits of Secure Software Architecture Design and Implementation

• Get basic security practices right in your software design
• Leverages common security solutions
• Software architectures are standardized to minimize security risks
• Identify areas for potential cost savings.
• Increases the overall quality of the quality of your system and manages its complexity.
• Reduces risk factors.