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Summary

Building secure systems takes effort, especially for organizations that aren't used to paying much attention to security. Code review should be part of the software security process. When used as part of code review, static analysis tools can help codify best practices, catch common mistakes, and generally make the security process more efficient and consistent. But to achieve these benefits, an organization must have a well-defined code review process. At a high level, the process consists of four steps: defining goals, running tools, reviewing the code, and making fixes. One symptom of an ineffective process is a frequent descent into a debate about exploitability.

To incorporate static analysis into the existing development process, an organization needs a tool adoption plan. The plan should lay out who will run the tool, when they'll run it, and what will happen to the results. Static analysis tools are process agnostic, but the path to tool adoption is not. Take style and culture into account as you develop an adoption plan.

By tracking and measuring the security activities adopted in the development process, an organization can begin to sharpen its software security focus. The data produced by source code analysis tools can be useful for this purpose, giving insight into the kinds of problems present in the code, whether code review is taking place, and whether the results of the review are being acted upon in a timely fashion.

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