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Why Is Security a Software Issue?

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This chapter discusses why security is increasingly a software problem. It defines the dimensions of software assurance and software security. It identifies threats that target most software and the shortcomings of the software development process that can render software vulnerable to those threats. It closes by introducing some pragmatic solutions that are expanded in the chapters to follow.

1.1 Introduction*

Software is everywhere. It runs your car. It controls your cell phone. It's how you access your bank's financial services; how you receive electricity, water, and natural gas; and how you fly from coast to coast [McGraw 2006]. Whether we recognize it or not, we all rely on complex, interconnected, software-intensive information systems that use the Internet as their means for communicating and transporting information.

Building, deploying, operating, and using software that has not been developed with security in mind can be high risk—like walking a high wire without a net (Figure 1-1). The degree of risk can be compared to the distance you can fall and the potential impact (no pun intended).

Figure 1-1

Figure 1-1 Developing software without security in mind is like walking a high wire without a net

This chapter discusses why security is increasingly a software problem. It defines the dimensions of software assurance and software security. It identifies threats that target most software and the shortcomings of the software development process that can render software vulnerable to those threats. It closes by introducing some pragmatic solutions that are expanded in the chapters to follow. This entire chapter is relevant for executives (E), project managers (M), and technical leaders (L).

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