CSA Dives Deep Into 'Egregious' Cloud Computing Threats

The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) published a report in late September that I just got around to reading. I guess it was the Halloween season that drew me to the title, "Top Threats to Cloud Computing: Egregious 11 Deep Dive." It provides case‌ ‌study‌ ‌analyses‌ of last year's ‌The‌ ‌Egregious‌ ‌11:‌ ‌Top‌ ‌Threats‌ ‌to‌ ‌Cloud‌ ‌Computing, with nine recent cybersecurity attacks and breaches. (Both reports featured a scary octopus on their covers.)

All kidding aside, the deep dive is well worth a look, and its free. The so-called Egregious 11, you'll recall, were culled from a survey of 241 industry experts on security issues in the cloud. The respondents rated 11 "salient threats, risks, and vulnerabilities" in their cloud environments. The Top Threats Working Group used the survey results, along with its own expertise, to create the final 2019 report.

The new report looks at nine actual attacks and breaches, including "a major financial services company, a leading enterprise video communications firm, and a multinational grocery chain," for its foundation. The report "connects the dots between the CSA Top Threats in terms of security analysis," Jon-Michael C. Brook, chair of the Top Threats Working Group, wrote in a forward to the report. And I think it does so quite effectively.

The list of organizations whose breaches were analyzed is a sexy one. It includes Capital One, Disney+, Dow Jones, GitHub, Imperva, Ring, Tesco, Tesla, and Zoom.

Each of the nine examples is presented in the form of a reference chart and a detailed narrative. The reference chart's format provides an attack-style synopsis of the actor spanning from threats and vulnerabilities to end controls and mitigations.

Here's one example of the narrative portion of the Capital One breach analysis:

Actor: Former engineer of AWS with insider knowledge on platform vulnerabilities gained credentials from a misconfigured web application to extract sensitive information from protected cloud folders.

Attack: Open-source anonymity network (Tor) and VPN services (iPredator) hides attacker. Misconfigured ModSecurity WAF used by Capital One with their AWS cloud operations relayed AWS cloud metadata services including credentials to cloud instances. Over privileged access given to the WAF allowed the attacker to gain access to protected cloud storage (AWS S3 buckets) with the ability to read data sync and exfiltrate sensitive information.
Vulnerabilities: A Server Side Request Forgery (SSRF) vulnerability on the platform was exposed in which a server (e.g. Capital One's WAF) was tricked into requests from an attacker to access cloud server configurations (e.g. EC2 metadata service) including credentials to whatever the server had access to.

Data Breach: A web application was compromised for IAM credentials to access multiple cloud folders. The cloud folders accessed had read rights to 106 million records of customer information that were exfiltrated.

Data Loss: The data extracted were credit card applications and credit card customer status reports between 2005-2019. Personal Identified Information (PII) from the applications included applicant names, addresses, zip codes/postal codes, phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth, and self-reported income. The credit card customer PII and financial records extracted included credit scores, credit limits, balances, payment history, contact information, social security numbers, and linked bank accounts. Approximately 140,000 Social Security numbers and 80,000 linked bank account numbers of secured credit card customers were exfiltrated.

I think these narratives read like mystery/thrillers, and the companies are name brands for the most part. Even if you're not into this kind of thing, this is an accessible report with useful insights that you should definitely read, developers and IT pros alike.

Both reports were prepared by the CSA's Top Threats Working Group, which, the CSA says, aims to provide organizations with "an up-to-date, expert-informed understanding of cloud security risks, threats, and vulnerabilities in order to make educated risk-management decisions regarding cloud adoption strategies."

When the CSA first hit my radar in 2012, it described itself as a not-for-profit coalition of companies, individuals, organizations, and "key stake holders" with an interest in promoting secure cloud computing. It's mission hasn't changed, and the website features a nice history and list of milestones. The group also issues the Certificate of Cloud Auditing Knowledge (CCAK) certification, currently the only credential for industry professionals who demonstrate expertise in the essential principles of auditing cloud computing systems. The CSA developed the most widely adopted cloud security audit criteria and organizational certification, which makes the group uniquely positioned to lead industry efforts to make sure that industry professionals have the requisite skill set for auditing the cloud environment.


Posted by John K. Waters on November 2, 2020 at 12:03 PM0 comments

Docker Inc.'s Strategic Shift to Dev Focus One Year Later

It's been almost exactly one year since Docker Inc. sold its enterprise platform business to Mirantis, a commercial distributor of OpenStack, to focus on the needs of enterprise application development teams. Since then, the company behind the leading containerization platform has concentrated on refining its dev tools and building an ecosystem of partners to support a "code-to-cloud" automations for developers.

Docker CEO Scott Johnston talked with a group of reporters this week about the progress of that strategy and laid out the company's path going forward.

The sale to Mirantis was a burn-the-ships commitment to a massive restructuring of the company. "We sold off three quarters of our employee base, all the enterprise customers, and all the enterprise customer revenue," Johnston said. "All in the spirit of restarting the company with a new mission."

That new mission would see Docker spending the next year with a "laser-like focus" on app development teams, embracing partners "in a first-class-citizen type way," and "building a sustainable community, sustainable code, and a sustainable company around the restructured entity."

The result? 11.3 million monthly active users sharing applications from 7.9 million images on Docker Hub repositories with 13.6 billion code pulls per month--up 70% over last year, Johnston said.

Johnston emphasized Docker's commitment to embracing a community to provide for the needs of enterprise developers. "We walk the talk," he said, citing the open sourcing of the Compose Specification in April on GitHub with open governance. Compose is a developer-focused standard for defining cloud and platform agnostic container-based applications.

He pointed to some key partnerships, including a deal with Microsoft that integrates the Azure public cloud and the Virtual Studio Code editor with Docker Desktop. The company also recently announced a partnership with open-source security platform provider Snyk to deliver a native vulnerability scanning service for container images. And he pointed to the recent agreement with Amazon Web services (AWS) to create a simplified workflow for developers using Docker Compose to build apps for Amazon's Elastic Container Service (ECS) and Amazon ECS on AWS Fargate. Docker has also partnered with Atlassian and the Microsoft-owned GitHub to make Docker Hub something of a nexus for integrating, configuring, and managing application components.

Former industry analyst Donnie Berkholz, who joined the company as VP of product just a few weeks again, was on hand for the briefing. All of these integrations are about helping developers get from code to cloud quickly, he said. "And that's not just about things we deliver, but these partnerships," he said. "Because developers are building, sharing, and deploying all over the internet. We can't just have a single point solution to solve their problems. We have to meet developers where they are and where they're going. And so really the partnership ecosystem that we're forming around Docker is the core to doing that."

Johnston also addressed some pricing changes that went into effect over the past year. The company added per-seat pricing for subscriptions, and then followed up with an annual purchasing option that offers discounts for longer-term commitments. The company's free plan, which gave developers unlimited public repositories and one private repository, proved not to be economically sustainable "when we have tens of millions of developers today and tens of millions more coming tomorrow," Johnston said. The adjustments are intended to make sure a small subset of "overconsuming" users doesn't negatively impact the rest of the users.

"In order to build a sustainable community and sustainable code, we have to build a sustainable company around the new restructured entity," he said. "So we put limits on the upper bounds of the all-you-can-eat buffet, so we're able to scale to tens of millions more developers and continue to offer free services, while still having a viable business that can sustain all the investments required in order to do that."

Posted by John K. Waters on October 29, 2020 at 10:30 AM0 comments

Azul's New Migration Service Moves Oracle Java SE Users to Zulu Builds of OpenJDK

Open-source Java platform provider Azul Systems today unveiled a new series of migration tools and services designed to help enterprise and public sector IT teams transition from proprietary Oracle Java SE to its Zulu builds of OpenJDK. These tools and services include inventory and usage auditing, testing, and certification, "to help organizations move their entire Java estate quickly, easily, and securely from Oracle to Azul's OpenJDK platform," the company said in a statement.

"Oracle's new Java licensing and commercial support pricing changes--its subscription model--is definitely not for everyone," Azul president and CEO Scott Sellers told ADTmag. "Lots of users are looking for cost-effective, open source alternatives. And the truth is, for most organizations, migration to Azul Zulu builds of OpenJDK is fairly easy. It's just a straightforward drop-in replacement for Oracle Java SE, because it's based on the same underlying source code developed in the OpenJDK project. Oracle Java and Azul's Java products are effectively identical with regard to Java specification compliance and performance."

But some Java-based organizations face more complex migration scenarios, Sellers explained--situations in which the developers of legacy systems are long gone, or there's simply a lack of the necessary resources in-house to manage such a project themselves. For those types of customers, Azul and its certified partner ecosystem now provide advisory support and project management, plus turnkey migration and application modernization.

Azul is offering two levels of its migration services: Migration and Modernization.

  • Migration: A typical scenario involves an organization who wishes to migrate directly from Oracle Java to Azul Zulu builds of OpenJDK. In this case, Azul partners work alongside the organization's technical teams to expedite a complete turnkey migration, from inventory and usage auditing, through testing and certification. The process typically takes a few weeks from planning to completion, and results in creating an inventory of the Java estate by vendor, by Java version, by Java security patch level, and by which Java runtimes are currently being used, and then defines the timetable and executes the migration through final test and 'go live.'
  • Modernization: This service is ideal for customers wishing to modernize their applications from older Java versions to more current releases, for example applications based on Java 6 or 7 updated to run using Java 8 or 11. Modernization initiatives result in Java deployments being inherently more secure and maintainable.

Azul is partnering with EPAM Systems, a global provider of digital platform engineering and software development services, to deliver the new migration services. EPAM's end-to-end solutions (from strategic consulting to engineering at scale) help customers quickly migrate and modernize legacy Java systems with minimal disruption and risk.

"We're still a relatively small company," Sellers said. "What we've done is to develop the tools and services, and we're partnering with others to deliver them.

"Migrating from Oracle Java SE to an open source OpenJDK distributions, like Azul Zulu, in complex legacy systems or across an enterprise is an undertaking that requires thorough planning and implementation, and a technology partner experienced in Java and open source as well as complex enterprise landscapes," said Eli Feldman, CTO in EPAM's Advanced Technology group, in a statement. "We're pleased to be working with Azul in offering this new migration service and look forward to using our depth and breadth of experience to provide a seamless process to those interested in successfully completing the switch."

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Azul bills itself as the only vendor focused exclusively on the Java and the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). The Zing JVM is based on Oracle's HotSpot, a core component of Java SE. Zing is a "no-pause" JVM designed to eliminate Garbage Collection (GC) pauses, a long-standing challenge for Java developers. This pauselessness, which Azul calls "generational pauseless garbage collection" (GPGC), enables Java app instances to scale dynamically and reliably. Sellers has called GC "the Achilles heel of Java."

Posted by John K. Waters on October 22, 2020 at 10:06 AM0 comments

Call for Code Tackles Racial Injustice

When IBM and the organizers of the Call for Code Global Challenge announced the grand prize winner last week (our coverage here) of its third annual international tech-for-good competition, they also unveiled a new Call for Code initiative: Call for Code for Racial Justice, which IBM is describing as "a vital initiative that brings together technology and a powerful ecosystem to combat one of the greatest challenges of our time: racial injustice."

Just as the original Call for Code Challenge urged developers around the world to use their skills to address climate change, and then both climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Call for Code for Racial Justice expands the admonition further, calling on the international community of hundreds of thousands of developers to contribute to solutions to confront racial inequalities.

Call for Code for Racial Justice encourages the adoption and innovation of open source projects to drive progress in three key areas: Police and Judicial Reform and Accountability; Diverse Representation; and Policy and Legislation Reform.

The new initiative emerged from an internal IBM program called the Call for Code Emb(race) Challenge. It was started by Black IBMers who, along with Red Hatters and IBM allies, applied their ingenuity and expertise to design and develop technology solutions to address the problem of systemic racism. These solutions are now being opened up to the world as open source projects through the Call for Code tech-for-good platform.

The organizers are partnering with a number of organizations, including: Black Girls Code, Collab Capital, Dream Corps, The United Way Worldwide, American Airlines, Cloud Native Computing Foundation, and Red Hat.

"Black Girls Code was created to introduce programming and technology to a new generation of coders," said Anesha Grant, director of alumnae and educational programs at Black Girls Code, in a statement, "and we believe that a new generation of coders will shape our futures. We're excited to participate in Call for Code for Racial Justice and to spark meaningful change."

The Call for Code for Racial Justice launched officially this week at the virtual All Things Open

The IBM Call for Code for Racial Justice team kicked off the competition by contributing "solution starters" to the open source community. These projects were built using technologies such as Red Hat OpenShift, IBM Cloud, IBM Watson, Blockchain ledger, Node.js, Vu.js, Docker, Kubernetes and Tekton, said Evaristus Mainsah, General Manager, IBM Hybrid Cloud and Edge Ecosystem and co-chair of IBM's Black Executive Council, and Willie Tejada, General Manager, IBM Developer Ecosystems Group and Chief Developer Advocate, in a joint blog post.

"We're asking developers and ecosystem partners to join us in combatting racial injustice by testing, extending and implementing these open source solutions, and contributing their own diverse perspectives and expertise to make them even stronger," they said.

The list of solution starters includes:

  • Five Fifths Voter: This web application empowers Black people and other minorities to ensure their voices are heard by exercising their right to vote. It is a virtual one-stop-shop to help determine optimal voting strategies for each individual and limit the impact of previous suppression issues.
  • Legit-info: Local legislation and policies can have significant impact on areas as far-reaching as jobs, the environment and safety. Legit-info helps individuals understand in their own language the legislation that shapes their lives. 
  • Incident Accuracy Reporting System: This platform for police incident reporting allows witnesses and victims to corroborate evidence from multiple sources and assess against an official police report. The system creates a more reliable record of all accounts of the incident.  
  • Open Sentencing: To help public defenders better serve their clients, Open Sentencing identifies racial bias in data such as demographics that can help make a stronger case. 
  • Truth Loop: This app helps communities simply understand the policies, regulations and legislation that will impact them the most. 

"Each year I'm amazed by how this global community of developers comes together to help solve some of the world's most pressing issues, and this year is no different," said Call for Code creator David Clark, in a statement. "Through the support of UN Human Rights, IBM, The Linux Foundation, the Call for Code ecosystem, world leaders, tech icons, celebrities, and the amazing developers that drive innovation, Call for Code has become the defining tech for good platform the world turns to for results."

Posted by John K. Waters on October 20, 2020 at 9:38 AM0 comments

JetBrains' New Kotlin Release Cadence: Date-based, Not Feature-based

There's a lot going on this week in the Kotlin community. JetBrains, the Prague-based maker of the venerable code-centric Java IDE, IntelliJ IDEA, and creator of Kotlin, is hosting an online event focused on the programming language.

Kotlin 1.4 (named, obviously, for the latest release) is a three-day event, underway now (Oct 12-14) that's bringing together Kotlin experts to share insider insights with the global developer community.

Most of the speakers are JetBrains people, but fans of the company's must-read blogs will recognize many of names on the speaker roster, including: Kotlin lead Andrey Breslav; Stanislav Erokhin, Kotlin's head of development; Egor Tolstoy, Kotlin product manager; Roman Elizarov, team Lead in Kotlin language research; and Hadi Hariri, the company's developer advocate. Also speaking: Florina Muntenescu, Android developer advocate at Google and Sébastien Deleuze,  Spring Framework committer at Pivotal.

Still time to log on.

Meanwhile, JetBrains officially announced a new release cadence for Kotlin and the IntelliJ Kotlin plugin. According to JetBrains' Kotlin community manager Alina Dolgikh, users can expect new releases of Kotlin 1.x every six months. These releases will be date-driven, not feature-driven, Dolgikh said in a blog post, which brings the language into what has emerged as something of a standard release cycle for software development tools over the past few years.

"Since Kotlin 1.0 came out in 2016, we've built our release schedule around new key features in the language," Dolgikh said. "This meant that, until big language features were ready, we would not release anything at all. As a consequence, we delivered changes and improvements once a year or sometimes even less frequently. The language has evolved more slowly than we would like, and release dates have been somewhat unpredictable for the users. The main goal of the new date-driven release cadence is to accelerate the delivery of important language updates."

There are three types of Kotlin releases: feature, incremental, and bug-fix. The new cadence will mostly impact the feature releases. Major IDE features will arrive in releases synchronized with IntelliJ IDEA, she said. Dolgikh provides a useful  diagram of the new Kotlin release cadence in her post.

The Kotlin IDE plugin will be released simultaneously with the Kotlin language release, she said, and every time IntelliJ IDEA is released. Why?

"Nowadays, major changes in the Kotlin IDE plugin depend on the IntelliJ Platform more than on the Kotlin compiler," she explained. "So, from now on, new versions of the Kotlin plugin will ship with every release of the IntelliJ Platform, as well as with new versions of Kotlin."

"Kotlin is evolving quickly and we're keen to remove any obstacles preventing the team and the community from achieving their goals," Dolgikh added. "Today we've introduced two major process improvements, and we believe they will speed up the language progress even more."

Kotlin ranked 13th among the most popular languages for professional developers in the StackOverflow Developer Survey 2020, and it cracked the Top 20 in the most recent RedMonk Programming Language Rankings. The Kotlin developer community claims that more than 30,000 members are exchanging "knowledge and support" on Slack and Reddit, and the official Twitter account has more than 90,000 followers.

Created by Prague-based JetBrains, Kotlin is a statically typed language that compiles to both JVM byte code and JavaScript. JetBrains has claimed that Kotlin is more stable at runtime than Java, because it can statically check weak points and supports things like variable type interface, closures, extension functions, and mix-ins. It's also less verbose than Java, which means devs can write less code with a more readable syntax.

JetBrains unveiled Kotlin at the 2011 JVM Language Summit in Santa Clara, CA, and later released it for distribution under the Apache 2 Open Source License.

Posted by John K. Waters on October 14, 2020 at 8:08 AM0 comments

Google v. Oracle Finally in SCOTUS's Hands

The decade-long court battle between Google and Oracle over 37 Java APIs Google used without Oracle's permission in its Android mobile operating system is finally coming to an end. (Really this time…. probably.) Oral arguments before the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ended on Friday.

The case has been pending at the High Court for almost two years. It was set originally for oral argument in March, but was rescheduled to this fall when the coronavirus pandemic scrambled the spring argument sessions. (My earlier report includes a summary of the long history of this case, which started when Oracle sued Google in 2010.)

Google is asking the court to reverse a federal circuit court's finding that the structure, sequence, and organization (SSO) of Oracle's Java API package was copyrightable, and also that Google's use of that SSO was not a "fair use" under copyright law.

There's a lot at stake in this case--and not just the $8.8 million in damages Oracle is seeking from Google, which is an Alphabet subsidiary. It has the potential to be one of the most important copyright cases of the decade.

In January, several small companies and tech organizations joined the Mozilla software community in a friend of the court brief, urging the High Court to reverse the federal circuit court's decision.

The brief makes its argument from the perspective of small, medium, and open-source tech organizations, said Abigail Phillips, head of the Mozilla Foundation's legal department, in a blog post. "Mozilla believes that software reimplementation [the process of writing new software to perform certain functions of a legacy product] and the interoperability it facilitates are fundamental to the competition and innovation at the core of a flourishing software development ecosystem."

The list of organizations on the Mozilla amici curiae includes Medium, Cloudera, Creative Commons, Shopify, Etsy, Reddit, the Open Source Initiative, Mapbox, Patreon, the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Software Freedom Conservancy.

"The case has potentially huge implications on copyright protection for software, fair use, and the sanctity of jury verdicts," attorney J. Michael Keyes told ADTmag in an email. "Both parties' counsel were peppered with questions that focused primarily on copyright protection for software, the idea/expression merger, and whether Google's use was 'fair.'"

Keyes is an intellectual property attorney and a partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney. He listened to the argument last week, and offered a rundown:

"Several of the justices' questions seemed skeptical of Google's position and troubled by Google's use of Oracle's software code," Keys said. "Justice Roberts said [that] just because you 'crack the safe' doesn't give you the right to take the money. Justice Alito was worried that if the Court adopted Google's position, it would effectively end copyright protection for software. Justice Sotomayor appeared to express her skepticism of Google's position in pretty blunt terms:  'What gives you the right to use their original work?' Justices Gorsuch and Kagan seemed troubled that other tech giants like Apple and Microsoft have created successful mobile platforms without copying Java—why should the Court give Google a pass?

Oracle's counsel was also met with questions about whether its "declaring code" was copyrightable, Keyes said.

"Surprisingly, there wasn't a big emphasis or focus on the federal circuit's disruption of the jury verdict on fair use," Keyes added. "Justice Alito did seem to question whether the lower court applied the wrong standard, s did Justice Gorsuch. Given that there isn't a single instance of a federal appeals court overturning a jury verdict on fair use, it seemed like this issue would have received more 'air time.'

Bill Frankel, shareholder at Brinks, Gilson & Lione, and chair of the firm's copyright group, also reached out with an email.

"The Justice's grappled with Google's argument that software interfaces are purely functional lines of code and not the kind of creative expression that copyright exists to protect," Frankel said. "Where do you draw the line between copyrightable code and uncopyrightable code? But they deeply probed into the issue of the merger doctrine and whether there has been a merger of the expression in Oracle's declaring code and the functional purposes of that code. Were the Court to adopt Google's argument of merger, the holding presumably would be limited to the Java declaring code at issue, and would leave open, if not uncertain, the scope of copyright protection for APIs in future disputes."

Frankel noted (as did many delighted reporters) the number analogies the Justices came up with during arguments to get their arms around some technical concepts.

"The Justices came up with a number of analogies to suggest the possible functionality of Oracle's APIs," he said, "including mechanical devices like QWERTY keyboards and telephone switchboards and the like. But these analogies seemed inapposite. Chief Justice Roberts' analogy to a menu was closer to the mark. But even a menu divided into appetizers, entrees, and desserts can be written a myriad of ways. At the end of the day, Oracle's code was original, creative, and properly the subject of copyright. The questions to be resolved are what the scope of that copyright should be and how the fair use factors should properly be weighed in the context of software copyrights."

Posted by John K. Waters on October 14, 2020 at 10:12 AM0 comments

Kubernetes Security Provider is AWS Outposts Ready

Kubernetes security solutions provider Alcide achieved a milestone this week. The Israel-based company has earned the AWS Outposts Ready designation, which is part of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Service Ready Program.

This designation is a big deal for the young company. It recognizes that Alcide's platform has demonstrated successful integration with AWS Outposts deployments. AWS Outposts is a fully managed service that extends AWS infrastructure, AWS services, APIs, and tools to virtually any datacenter, co-location space, or on-premises facility for a consistent hybrid experience.

The Alcide platform has three main modules: Advisor, kAudit, and Runtime. Advisor is a Kubernetes multi-cluster vulnerability scanner that covers rich Kubernetes and Istio security best practices and compliance checks. kAudit automatically identifies anomalous behavior and suspicious activity based on the Kubernetes audit log. It also allows defining custom rules and alerts when certain Kubernetes actions occur. RunTime (ART) protects the container network with a microservices firewall and a threat detection engine. It also tracks processes running in containers themselves.

"We know the importance of helping customers and organizations more easily identify potential security risks in order to take action," said Joshua Burgin, General Manager for the AWS Outposts group, in a statement. "With Alcide Advisor and Alcide ART available to customers on AWS Outposts, we are able to provide a comprehensive view of (a customer's) security posture on their infrastructure, on AWS Outposts, and in AWS Regions, both on premises and in the cloud, for a truly consistent hybrid experience."

I had an opportunity to talk with Gadi Naor, Alcide's CTO and co-founder earlier this year at the beta launch of the company's sKan, a solution designed to provide "end-to-end continuous security guardrails" for Kubernetes deployments.

"We keep hearing from our customers that they want to bring Kubernetes security insights to developers early on," Naor told me at the time. "sKan stretches our main security platform into the comfort zone of the developers who are building applications running on Kubernetes in the most automated and seamless manner, without interrupting their development workflow."

Posted by John K. Waters on September 17, 2020 at 8:35 AM0 comments

Latest BSIMM Report: Security for DevOps and CI/CD Becomes a Priority

Enterprises are adapting their software security efforts to support DevOps as CI/CD instrumentation and operations orchestration have become standard components of organizations' software security initiatives. That's one of the insights from the latest Building Security In Maturity Model (BSIMM ) report from Synopsis.

First published in 2009, the BSIMM is the result of a multiyear study of real-world software security initiatives (SSIs). It was developed to provide a "fact-based" set of best practices for developing and growing an enterprise-wide software security program. That set of practices was the first maturity model for security initiatives created entirely from real-world data. The latest BSIMM is available for download now.

This edition of the BSIMM report was authored by Sammy Migues, principal scientist at Synopsys, and one of the original developers of the BSIMM, John Steven, founding principal of Aedify Security, and Mike Ware
Sr. director of technology at Synopsys.

"The purpose of the BSIMM is to quantify the activities carried out by various kinds of [software security initiatives] across many organizations," the report's authors explain. "Because these initiatives use different methodologies and different terminology, the BSIMM requires a framework that allows us to describe any initiative in a uniform way. Our software security framework (SSF) and activity descriptions provide a common vocabulary for explaining the salient elements of an SSI, thereby allowing us to compare initiatives that use different terms, operate at different scales, exist in different parts of the organizational chart, operate in different vertical markets, or create different work products."

The 11th BSIMM report was the result of the efforts of more than 8.4k security software security professionals, who guide the efforts of almost 500k developers. This edition examines practices across 130 companies in a range of industries, from financial to health care, to identify and help solve their software security challenges. 

The list of emerging trends in this report for DevOps teams includes:

  • Software security efforts are matching pace with software delivery: New activities show a shift toward DevSecOps, including: SM3.4 Integrate software-defined lifecycle governance, AM3.3 Monitor automated asset creation, CMVM3.5 Automate verification of operational infrastructure security 
  • Organizations are "shifting everywhere:" The "shift left" concept has evolved from performing security testing earlier in the development cycle to performing as soon as artifacts are available.
  • Security champions are evolving in firms embracing DevOps and DevSecOps: This is to recruit members from cloud and related roles to apply their expertise as code for organizational benefit.

The BSIMM has proved to be a useful reflection of the current state of software security initiatives in the enterprise, and given how hard it can be to get any organization to communicate honestly about its security practices, something of a miracle. As Gary McGraw, co-author of the original BSIMM, likes to say, it was a science that escaped the test tube to become a de facto standard.

"That's very gratifying, personally," McGraw told me in a 2015 interview, "but the important thing is the emphasis here on real data, and the use of facts in computer security. I think we've finally moved past the witchdoctor days in software security."

Posted by John K. Waters on September 15, 2020 at 8:53 AM0 comments

Our First Podcast Features "Hope Speech" Researcher Ashique KhudaBukhsh

We finally dipped our quarantined toes into the ever-widening podcast ocean last week, because we just didn't have enough to do around here. But seriously, after more than two decades on this beat, it really seemed like the right time to start sharing some of the amazing conversations I get to have on a daily basis with the brilliant and inventive people driving high tech.

We were lucky to have as our first guest Ashique KhudaBukhsh, a project scientist in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University's Language Technologies Institute (LTI). I met Ashique in January, when he was still a post-doctoral researcher. I stumbled upon one of his team's published papers, and I called him to talk about what they were up to. That conversation led to two stories in ADTmag's sister publication, Pure AI.

Ashique and his team are engaged in a unique and compelling line of research. He and his colleagues are using artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze online comments in social media and pick out those that defend or are sympathetic to disenfranchised groups. That research led to the development of machine learning classifiers that effectively sort the "hopeful" and "helpful" from the hateful on social media.

The LTI researchers focused initially on finding supporting content about the Rohingya people, who began fleeing Myanmar in 2017 to avoid ethnic cleansing. Ashique explains why that group was chosen, and how his team used the fastText text representation and classification library with polyglot embedding. He also explains how they developed an original strategy they call "active sampling," which used the nearest neighbors in the comment-embedding space to construct a classifier able to detect comments defending the Rohingyas among larger numbers of disparaging and neutral comments.

He also talks about how Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media platforms, which are employing strategies to identify hate speech and misinformation on their platforms, could use his team's machine learning classifiers to complement that effort.

Ashique is teaching now, but his research continues, and he came to the podcast ready to share his story. It's a great story. You should check it out.

The WatersWorks Podcast will be available soon on iTunes and other podcast apps. But you can listen to it now on the Pure AI website. While you're there, feel free to read the two stories about Ashique's team's work ("Carnegie Mellon Uses AI To Counter Hate Speech with 'Hope Speech'" and "Carnegie Mellon Continues its Research on "Hostility-Diffusing, Peace-Seeking Hope Speech"). They include links to his group's research papers, which you also might want to read.

We'll be podcasting twice a month. I'll let you know when we finish the next one.

Posted by John K. Waters on September 3, 2020 at 7:46 AM0 comments