IBM to pair security techs for software dev

Honing in on the need for more security in application development, IBM Rational is planning an enterprise-level product that features two separately acquired technologies for security testing and code scanning.


The product, which would be released later this year, would feature Rational AppScan testing capabilities, acquired when IBM bought Watchfire in 2007, and the former Ounce Labs software that checks code for security issues, said David Grant, director of security solutions at Rational, in an interview late last week. IBM bought Ounce last year.


“[The combined product] brings a whole new level of accuracy to security testing,” Grant said.


AppScan has tested software from the inside, looking at applications already built, while Ounce does inside-out testing of source code for security flaws. “What we’re working on is really bringing those two together,” said Grant. IBM furthered development of AppScan in 2008 to feature analysis during the software development process.


AppScan technology, Grant said, has been embedded in Rational software delivery lifecycle products, such as RequisitePro and Quality Manager. Ounce technology also is being incorporated into Rational offerings.


Application security is becoming more important because software is driving everything these days and Web applications are front-ending business application, Grant said. This can expose systems to outsiders, including malicious individuals, who can access sensitive information, Grant said. But security typically has not been at the forefront of software development, he said.


“The problem with application security is developers typically aren’t trained, aren’t incented, to be honest with you,” to prevent security flaws in applications, Grant said. Security issues can occur such as SQL injection, in which a database gives improper access to information, or cross-site scripting, in which a browser session is hijacked.


Most software development shops lack security knowledge, said analyst Chenxi Wang, of Forrester.


“Developers largely do not care about security, nor do they have time to. Therefore, what we are seeing is that the high end of the market – the more sophisticated development shops, start to have security mandates but the majority of the development shops are far, far behind in terms of knowledge about security in development and the willingness to do something about it,” Wang said.


Also becoming an issue in secure application development is cloud application deployment. “Cloud is yet another driver of exposing more critical business apps [in] the wild,” said Grant. “Out in the Web, when you’re building cloud-enabled systems, you’ve got to make sure to put them through the secure lifecycle as well.”


IBM is not the only major vendor focusing on security for application development. Microsoft has released its SDL (Security Development Lifecycle) best practices for this purpose.


“SDL is a set of best practices and partnerships. They don’t actually have security testing products,” embedded in their software, Grant said.

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