Recognition of Software Security Issues Are High; Mitigation is Not
I read an interesting report from Spiceworks recently about mobile security actions by IT departments...or perhaps, lack of actions might be more accurate. The report, which is free to download, shows that nearly all IT professionals are worried about security risks affecting mobile devices supported by their company. However, this level of concern vastly outweighs the level of action their organizations have actually taken to lessen security threats.
This central finding, while disappointing, does not come as a surprise. Year after year, we see a persistent gap between awareness of software security importance and the steps taken to mitigate these issues. To help inform our analysis of the software and systems development market, VDC conducts an extensive end-user survey of global development community. In 2014, only 7.7% of embedded engineers surveyed considered security “not at all important” on their current project; just 2% of enterprise/IT developers felt the same way. Yet 22% of the respondents in embedded and 12% from enterprise report their organization has taken no actions in response to security requirements on their current project.
Need to Close the Awareness – Action Gap
The potential financial and safety impacts of software vulnerabilities have been clearly demonstrated by several recent and very public cases. Incidents, such as those exposing customer data from major retailers and software-related automotive recalls can dominate news cycles, damage brand equity, and more importantly - risk lives.
A growing reliance on software for embedded device functionality and to manage financial data has raised the importance of actively addressing security considerations during software design. Unfortunately, the velocity of software innovation is outpacing the application of safeguards and challenges continue to mount. Code base volume and complexity continues to rise. Development teams are increasingly utilizing alternative code sources including open-source software to meet their time-to-market windows. The number of potential entry points for malicious activities is increasing exponentially as more connected devices are deployed as part of the Internet of Things (IoT).
Teams designing software for the IT or embedded markets should start testing for security vulnerabilities early in the development lifecycle when resolution is the least costly. We recommend static and binary analysis as effective tools for finding the most common security defects such as buffer overflows, resource leaks, and other vulnerabilities. Use of these solutions should be incorporated as part of a comprehensive testing regime. Undoubtedly, the ramifications of software vulnerabilities are too severe to leave addressed by manual processes or chance.