At Microsoft's Security Development Conference 2012 in Washington, D.C., a diverse set of companies, government agencies and academic institutions shared their own experiences with adopting a Security Development Lifecycle (SDL).
The event, held May 15 and 16 at Washington's Fairmont hotel, included information for leaders in software engineering, process and business management who are responsible for implementing or accelerating the adoption and effectiveness of secure development practices in their organizations. The 2012 conference was the first in what is to be an annual series of SDC events, Microsoft said.
Keynote speakers included Scott Carney, corporate vice president for Trustworthy Computing at Microsoft; Richard A. Clarke, chairman of Good Harbor Consulting and former special adviser to the President for cyber-security; and General Michael V. Hayden, principal at the Chertoff Group and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency. Diamond sponsors of the SDC were Adobe, Cisco and Microsoft.
In a blog post about the event, Steve Lipner, partner director of program management for Trustworthy Computing at Microsoft, said:
"To see more and more private and public organizations recognize the value and importance of implementing secure development practices makes me cautiously optimistic that in the future software will be more secure than the software we've seen in the past. I remember when in 1997 I attended the RSA Security Conference held in the basement of the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco with a few hundred attendees. Today, the annual RSA Conference is a major industry event with more than 10,000 attendees. I'm not certain that the Security Development Conference will follow that sort of trajectory, but I do believe that secure development is of growing importance, and I also know that industry commitment can start small and grow."
As part of the conference, Microsoft announced two new success stories: The government of India and Itron have both integrated the SDL into their processes.
The government of India has recognized the importance of a holistic integration of security and is promoting that key concept by including secure coding practices in its draft national economic five-year plan, Lipner said.
"They believe this is a significant step that will help improve the security of all software and services produced in their programs. India's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), which leads the country's response to cyber-threats, has already taken steps to implement the five-year plan by leveraging Microsoft's SDL as one of the core tenets for application security," he said.
"In addition, the National Informatics Centre, part of the Central Government Office of India, requires training in SDL principles including the training of more than 10,000 of India's cyber forensic investigators. The government of India is also encouraging domestic businesses to adopt similar processes, showcasing the significant role public-private partnerships play in making critical systems more secure. You can read more about the steps the government of India is taking to secure its environment in the case study available for download here."
Itron, a provider of energy and water resource management solutions for nearly 8,000 utilities around the world, also has incorporated the SDL into its development process.
"With the increase in threats to critical infrastructures, Itron realized it needed to take proactive steps to protect its systems by building security in from the start," Lipner said. "The company recently implemented Microsoft's SDL, making it mandatory for the development of all of its software and hardware. Itron now has one of the most mature secure development programs in the Smart Grid space. You can read more about the steps Itron is taking to secure its systems through a case study we have published for download here."
In addition to the keynote speakers, other speakers at the event included representatives from IBM, Symantec, Red Hat, the National Security Agency, Itron, Cisco, Adobe, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Lockheed Martin, EMC, Salesforce.com and a host of others, including several other speakers from Microsoft.
To date, Microsoft's free SDL tools and resources have been downloaded more than 940,000 times reaching over 150 regions around the world.
Recent Microsoft research has demonstrated an overall decline in the exploitability of vulnerabilities in Microsoft products by greater than 30 percent when comparing the latest version of all Microsoft software to all supported previous versions over the past 18 months.
Three hundred and fifty days after implementing the Microsoft SDL, MidAmerican Energy was the only business unit inside its parent holding company, MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., that external auditors found to have no security vulnerabilities. And MidAmerican realized an overall productivity gain of up to 20 percent using Microsoft SDL.
A recent study by the Aberdeen Group found the total cost of remediating an actual application security-related incident at about $300,000 and that organizations that implemented an SDL realized four times their return on annual investments in security. Forrester reconfirms this by stating those practicing SDL specifically reported visibly better ROI results than the overall population.
This article was originally published on 05-18-2012