Wednesday, February 10, 2010

And now we need to be "Rugged"

A new initiative for secure software development, for Rugged Software Development was announced this week at a SANS conference. Rugged Software is
a value system for writing secure software
defined by some smart people in the application security industry.

Presumably the Rugged Software initiative is attempting to duplicate the success of the agile software movement, coming with its own Rugged Software Manifesto:
I am rugged… and more importantly, my code is rugged.
and so on.

The agile development movement was successful because it was driven by and for the people who actually build software: by programmers, for programmers. By smart, experienced programmers, people like Kent Beck and Ward Cunningham who built software for a living and were really good at it, and who were searching together for ways to solve the problems that programmers face in software development, problems that mattered to programmers. It came from inside the software development community, and set out to put programmers effectively back in charge of building software, to make better software, to make the making of software better.

And agile development, at least at the beginning, was cool, counter-culture: agile developers were sticking it to the man, doing what was right, subverting big upfront design and top-down planning and by-the-book project management and so on. It was certain to create a following…. and unfortunately, eventually to become an institutionalized Methodology subsidized by tool vendors and consultants, but that’s another story for another day.

According to one of the founders of the Rugged Software initiative
Getting the secure software development message to the masses won't be easy, and the plan is to get some initial support and momentum from the application security industry.
However well-intentioned and necessary, it looks like another set of ideas and values being imposed from outside on people who are busy building software. We already have other application security initiatives: Cigital's Build Security In and its maturity model for the enterprise, Microsoft’s SDL for the Microsoft community at least, OpenSAMM and other initiatives from OWASP, and half-baked ideas from the InfoSec community like SALSA.

And now we have Rugged Software Development.

To succeed, the initiative needs support and momentum not just from the application security community, but more importantly from the software development community – from the people who actually build software.

Fair enough, these smart and well-intentioned and hard working InfoSec guys are asking for input and participation from the development community. So after being challenged to “walk the walk" I signed up for the Rugged Software forums, blogs, lists and…. Well, there’s the announcement and some trade press coverage. And that Manifesto about ruggedness, and an empty blog and an empty forum. That’s it, that's all I have been able to find so far.

So, I guess I was walking too fast. I will wait and see if there is a real opportunity here, a chance for an initiative that speaks to, and for, the software development community, something that has a real chance to succeed.

1 comment:

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