Entries for month: May 2014

The Latest Research from the SEI

Acquisition , Insider Threat No Comments »

By Douglas C. Schmidt
Principal Researcher


Douglas C. Schmidt As part of an ongoing effort to keep you informed about our latest work, I would like to let you know about some recently published SEI technical reports and notes. These reports highlight the latest work of SEI technologists in cybersecurity risks,software assuranceadvanced persistent threatinternational insider threat,Wireless Emergency Alerts Servicesecurity and survivability, and acquisition

This post includes a listing of each report, author(s), and links where the published reports can be accessed on the SEI website. 

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Needed: Improved Collaboration Between Software and Systems Engineering

Systems Engineering 11 Comments »

By Sarah A. Sheard
Senior Engineer
Software Solutions Division
This post is the first in a series on this topic

Sarah SheardThe Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently reported that acquisition program costs typically run 26 percent over budget, with development costs exceeding initial estimates by 40 percent. Moreover, many programs fail to deliver capabilities when promised, experiencing a 21-month delay on average.  The report attributes the “optimistic assumptions about system requirements, technology, and design maturity [that] play a large part in these failures” to a lack of disciplined systems engineering analysis early in the program. What acquisition managers do not always realize is the importance of focusing on software engineering during the early systems engineering effort. Improving on this collaboration is difficult partly because both disciplines appear in a variety of roles and practices. This post, the first in a series, addresses the interaction between systems and software engineering by identifying the similarities and differences between the two disciplines and describing the benefits both could realize through a more collaborative approach. 

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Heartbleed: Q&A

Vulnerability Analysis , Team Software Process (TSP) , Secure Coding 1 Comment »

By Will Dormann
Vulnerability Analyst
CERT Division

Will DormannThe Heartbleed bug, a serious vulnerability in the Open SSL crytographic software library, enables attackers to steal information that, under normal conditions, is protected by the Secure Socket Layer/Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) encryption used to secure the internet. Heartbleed and its aftermath left many questions in its wake: 

  • Would the vulnerability have been detected by static analysis tools? 
  • If the vulnerability has been in the wild for two years, why did it take so long to bring this to public knowledge now? 
  • Who is ultimately responsible for open-source code reviews and testing? 
  • Is there anything we can do to work around Heartbleed to provide security for banking and email web browser applications? 

In late April 2014, researchers from the Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute and Codenomicon, one of the cybersecurity organizations that discovered the Heartbleed vulnerability, participated in a panel to discuss Heartbleed and strategies for preventing future vulnerabilities. During the panel discussion, we did not have enough time to address all of the questions from our audience, so we transcribed the questions and panel members wrote responses. This blog posting presents questions asked by audience members during the Heartbleed webinar and the answers developed by our researchers. (If you would like to view the entire webinar, click here.)

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Secure Coding to Prevent Vulnerabilities

Vulnerability Analysis , Secure Coding 2 Comments »

By Robert C. Seacord
Secure Coding Technical Manager 
CERT Division

Robert SeacordSoftware developers produce more than 100 billion lines of code for commercial systems each year. Even with automated testing tools, errors still occur at a rate of one error for every 10,000 lines of code. While many coding standards address code style issues (i.e., style guides), CERT secure coding standards focus on identifying unsafe, unreliable, and insecure coding practices, such as those that resulted in the Heartbleed vulnerability. For more than 10 years, the CERT Secure Coding Initiative at the Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institutehas been working to develop guidance—most recently, The CERT C Secure Coding Standard: Second Edition—for developers and programmers through the development of coding standards by security researchers, language experts, and software developers using a wiki-based community process.  This blog post explores the importance of a well-documented and enforceable coding standard in helping programmers circumvent pitfalls and avoid vulnerabilities. 

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