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Software Security: Building Security In Paperback – Jan 23 2006

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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
A powerful book with deep truths for secure development Nov. 1 2006
By Richard Bejtlich - Published on
Format: Paperback
I read six books on software security recently, namely "Writing Secure Code, 2nd Ed" by Michael Howard and David LeBlanc; "19 Deadly Sins of Software Security" by Michael Howard, David LeBlanc, and John Viega; "Software Security" by Gary McGraw; "The Security Development Lifecycle" by Michael Howard and Steve Lipner; "High-Assurance Design" by Cliff Berg; and "Security Patterns" by Markus Schumacher, et al. Each book takes a different approach to the software security problem, although the first two focus on coding bugs and flaws; the second two examine development processes; and the last two discuss practices or patterns for improved design and implementation. My favorite of the six is Gary McGraw's, thanks to his clear thinking and logical analysis. The other five are still noteworthy books. All six will contribute to the production of more security software.

Gary McGraw's book gets my vote as the best of the six because it made the biggest impact on the way I look at the software security problem. First, Gary emphasizes the differences between bugs (coding errors) and flaws (deeper architectural problems). He shows that automated code inspection tools can be applied more or less successfully to the first problem set, but human investigation is required to address the second. Gary applauds the diversity of backgrounds found in today's security professionals, but wonders what will happen when this rag-tag bunch (myself included) is eventually replaced by "formally" trained college security graduates.

Second, Gary explains that although tools cannot replace a flaw-finding human, they can assist programmers trying to avoid writing bugs. Gary is the only author I encountered who acknowledged that it is unrealistic to expect a programmer to keep dozens or hundreds of sound coding practices and historical vulnerabilities in his head while writing software. An automated tool is a powerful way to apply secure coding lessons in a repeatable and measurable manner. Gary also reframed the way I look at software penetration testing, by showing in ch 6 that they are best used to discover environmental and configuration problems of software in production.

Third, Gary is not afraid to point out the problems with other interpretations of the software security problem. I almost fell out of my chair when I read his critique on pp 140-7 and p 213 of Microsoft's improper use of terms like "threat" in their so-called "threat model." Gary is absolutely right to say Microsoft is performing "risk analysis," not "threat analysis." (I laughed when I read him describe Microsoft's "Threat Modeling" as "[t]he unfortunately titled book" on p 310.) I examine this issue deeper in my reviews of Microsoft's books. Gary is also correct when he states on p 153 that "security is more like insurance than it is some kind of investment." I bookmarked the section (pp 292, 296-7) where Gary explained how the "19 Deadly Sins of Software Security" mix "specific types of errors and vulnerability classes and talk about them all at the same level of abstraction." He's also right that the OWASP Top Ten suffers the same problem. Finally, Gary understands the relationships between operators and developers and the importance of security vocabulary.

I was pleasantly surprised by "Software Security". I reviewed an early draft for Addison-Wesley and wondered where the author was taking this book. It ended up being my favorite software security book, easily complementing Gary's earlier book "Building Secure Software." In my opinion, Gary is thinking properly about all the fundamental issues that matter. This book should be distributed to all Microsoft developers to help them frame the software security problem properly.
35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
A must-have for anyone building networked systems Feb. 4 2006
By Avi Rubin - Published on
Format: Paperback
On the one hand, it is risky for me to praise this book. I make my living teaching and practicing computer security. If everyone writing software these days were to read this book, I might eventually find myself out of business.

Gary McGraw, one of the leading security luminaries int he world, has got it right. Security cannot be added to systems once they are built. It must be designed in from the very beginning. The security posture and design must be considered in every phase of the development of a system - from the early design to the actual coding of the instructions.

Gary has done a fanstastic job explaining how to build secure systems, and detailing the importance and complexity of software security.

I've always been a big fan of Gary's, and with this latest installment in his 3 part series, Gary has provided readers with the most important advice and instruction to help keep the bad guys out of your systems.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Required residing for all software developers March 1 2007
By Ben Rothke - Published on
Format: Paperback
The root cause of many security vulnerabilities is poorly written software. Often, software applications are written without security in mind. The logical, yet elusive, solution is to ensure that software developers are trained in writing secure code.

Software Security: Building Security In is a valiant attempt to show software developers how to do just that. The book is the latest step in Gary McGraw's software security series, whose previous titles include Building Secure Software and Exploiting Software.

In past decades, writing secure code was left to the military and banking industry. Today, with everything on networks, all sectors must get into the act.

Much of the problem is that organizations target their security elsewhere--specifically on networks--rather than on software. But so many malicious attacks are directed at software that it is foolish to leave this vulnerability exposed.

McGraw goes into detail not only about writing secure code but also about key related areas, which he terms "the seven touchpoints of software security."

These points comprise code review, architectural risk analysis, penetration testing, risk-based security tests, abuse cases, security requirements, and security operations. A major portion of the book effectively discusses these "touchpoints," making the work a recommended tool for inculcating software developers with a security mind-set.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Critical reading if you're just getting started May 26 2006
By Keith Kernes - Published on
Format: Paperback
When my company began to investigate software security, we all mistakenly assumed it would be possible to just train the developers what mistakes not to make and all would be well with the world. This book was the first step toward fixing that misunderstanding. Dr. McGraw does an excellent job of describing the environment and the practices that are required when implementing secure coding in the lifecycle. But, he's also managed to prioritize the "touchpoints" so that each can be added in turn to a new development effort rather than requiring any single massive change. Overall an excellent read and good set of guidelines for implementation
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Fortify rulepack download howto please? Aug. 20 2013
By Emilio Grande - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is good, but installing the Fortify trial is not that easy. I might be missing something here. Fortify rulepack download howto please?