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Secure software development certification

ISC Squared : 26 September, 2008  (New Product)
Certification now available for secure software lifecycle professionals with introduction of new certificate programme from (ISC)2
(ISC)2 has announced preparations for a new certification designed to validate secure software development practices and expertise to address the increasing number of application vulnerabilities.

The Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLPcm) aims to stem the proliferation of security vulnerabilities resulting from insufficient development processes by establishing best practices and validating an individual's competency in addressing security issues throughout the software lifecycle (SLC). Code-language neutral, it will be applicable to anyone involved in the SLC, including analysts, developers, software engineers, software architects, project managers, software quality assurance testers and programmers.

Over 70 percent of security vulnerabilities exist at the application layer*, presenting a significant, immediate threat to users worldwide. All too often, security is bolted on at the end of the SLC as a response to a threat or after an exposure," said Howard A. Schmidt, CISSP, (ISC)2 board member and newly appointed president of the Information Security Forum (ISF). "The time to act is now, because new applications that lack basic security controls are being developed every day, and thousands of existing vulnerabilities are being ignored."

"Unsecured software is not only a danger to the enterprise, it can cause higher production costs and delays for the software developer, and require additional staff for the end-user as well," said John Colley, CISSP, (ISC)2 managing director EMEA. "The CSSLP will be a key component in better critical infrastructure protection, reduced risk of software malpractice suits and stricter adherence to industry and government regulations."

A wide range of respected organisations have expressed their support for the CSSLP, including: BASDA, Cisco, ISSA, Frost and Sullivan, Microsoft, SANS, SRA International, Software Assurance Forum for Excellence in Code (SAFEcode), Symantec and Xerox. Several of these organisations are sending their qualified software staff through the education and examination process.

Subject areas covered by the CSSLP exam will include the software lifecycle, vulnerabilities, risk, information security fundamentals and compliance. Candidates must demonstrate four years of professional experience in the SLC process or three years of experience and a bachelor's degree (or regional equivalent) in an IT discipline.

The seven domains of the CSSLP CBK, a compendium of secure software topics, are:

• Secure Software Concepts
• Secure Software Requirements
• Secure Software Design
• Secure Software Implementation/Coding
• Secure Software Testing
• Software Acceptance
• Software Deployment, Operations, Maintenance and Disposal

Colley added, "The CSSLP ensures that our first line of defence in this war - people - have the tools and knowledge to implement and enforce security throughout the software lifecycle."

The first CSSLP exam is scheduled for the end of June in 2009. Currently, (ISC)2 is seeking qualified professionals who meet experience and other requirements to participate in the assessment. They will become the first CSSLP holders and be asked to contribute to the exam development process and assist in other program development tasks. Applications for the CSSLP experience assessment will be accepted from Sept. 25, 2008 through March 31, 2009, with the first education seminars slated for Q1 2009.

Quotes from industry organisations and software vendors:

"As the recognised voice of the business software industry in the UK, BASDA is fully supportive of (ISC)2 in developing standards for software development that ultimately benefit business software users in providing more secure systems." Said Jairo Rojas, Director General, BASDA (Business Application Software Developers' Association).

"To better protect customers from evolving threats, the software community must come together and incorporate security earlier in the software development lifecycle," said Steven Lipner, senior director of security engineering strategy at Microsoft. "Microsoft strongly supports industry efforts to train and certify developers in security, especially those in organizations with limited resources. Along with executive commitment, tooling, and state-of-the-art processes, certification and training are critical parts of secure development."

"Today's emerging threats include several security risks which exploit the flaws and limitations of the application code for many technology products and services that businesses and individuals have come to rely on in their day-to-day lives. We applaud (ISC)²'s effort in developing a new professional credential aimed at software security. Earning the CSSLP certification is the first step in ensuring that personnel are aptly qualified and will help address the ever-growing need for secure software." Wes Higaki, director, software assurance, Office of the CTO at Symantec.

'As the global dependence on information and communications technology has grown, users have become increasingly concerned over security of software, especially those in the government, critical infrastructure and enterprise sectors. By offering software professionals a means to increase and validate their knowledge of best practices in securing applications throughout the development lifecycle, (ISC)2's CSSLP is helping the industry to take an important step forward in addressing the 'people' part of the solution," said Paul Kurtz, Executive Director, Software Assurance Forum for Excellence in Code (SAFECode).

Alan Paller, director of research for SANS, said, 'Organized crime groups have sharpened the focus and increased the frequency of their attacks against applications, making application software security a top priority for protecting sensitive information. We commend (ISC)2 for shining a bright light on this critical problem through their new CSSLP certification. CSSLP complements the SANS Institute's GIAC Secure Software Programmer (GSSP) certification that tests developers' secure coding skills.'

Kevin Richards, CISSP, vice president of ISSA International commented, 'In our efforts to best protect our organizations, we have to expand our information security programs to address the ever-growing threats to our critical applications. In foundation, this means building appropriate security controls into the normal lifecycle of the software development process- not just trying to 'bolt on' security at the end. To accomplish this, we need a new wave of education to provide the skillsets for this challenge. This program and certification can serve as catalyst to unite the application development and information security teams within an organization.'

"Applications that are secure today can become extremely vulnerable in a matter of months," said Robert Ayoub, Industry Manager of the Network Security Practice at Frost & Sullivan. "While there is no silver bullet, we should aim for software that is designed with clearly understood security requirements, developed with security controls, and deployed in a secure state. The CSSLP was developed to enhance the proliferation of secure software practices. CSSLP practices are expected to result in lower production costs, fewer delays, better critical infrastructure protection, reduced risk of software malpractice suits, and stricter adherence to industry and government regulations.

Quotes from UBS Investment Bank:

'UBS adheres to the highest standards of information security. We have implemented strategic application security initiatives encompassing the latest information security techniques for secure application development,' said Alessandro Morretti, CISSP, Executive Director, UBS Investment Bank, IT Security Risk Management. "An effort to develop professional credentials to address this need is a welcome addition to the technical field of information security with promise of long term benefits for professionals and organisations alike.'
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