Incite 9/10/2014: Smile and Breathe

Last week I mentioned how excited I was for the NFL season to be starting. I took the Boy to the Falcons’ home opener and it was awesome. It was a great game, and coming away with a victory in overtime was icing on the cake. As predicted, my voice was a bit rough on Monday from screaming all day Sunday, but it was worth it. I don’t think my son will ever forget that game, and neither will I. Of course, I was expecting Monday to be all about the big victories. Who would have expected Buffalo to beat the Bears at home? Not me – I picked Chicago in my knockout pool, and was promptly knocked out. I’m like Glass Joe I get knocked out so early and often. At least that game happened during the Falcons game, so I wasn’t bothered to be setting $20 on fire. Again. And the Dolphins beating the Pats? Another surprise. But the Monday news cycle was hijacked and dominated by the Ray Rice video. I will not link to it because it’s disgusting. The Ravens cut ties with the guy and now he’s suspended by the NFL. All of which is deserved. Can he rehabilitate himself? Maybe. Can he and his (now) wife work it out? Maybe. Was this an isolated incident, totally shocking and surprising to the people who claim to know him? No one knows that. All we know is that at that moment in time, Ray Rice was a wife-beater. And he’ll suffer the consequences of that action for the rest of his days. But let’s take a more constructive view of the situation. How did he get so angry as to strike the person he claims to love the most? What could he have done differently to avoid finding himself in that situation or role? I don’t have any experience with domestic violence. I don’t let the Boy hit his sisters, no matter what they do. But I do know a thing or two about anger. Anger (and my inability to manage it) was my catalyst to start moving down the mindfulness path, as I described in my RSA talk with JJ (link below). I am not going to preach the benefits of a daily hour of meditation. I won’t push anything except a little tactic I have learned, to both help me be aware of my increasing frustration, and to stop the process before it turns to anger and then rage. When I feel my fight or flight instincts kicking in, I smile and then take a deep breath. That brings my awareness out of the current stressful situation and lets me take a step back before I do something stupid. It allows me to sit with my frustration and not allow it to become anger. If it sounds easy, that’s because it is. It takes discipline to not take the bait, but it’s easy to do. Of course this is not the right approach if you are being chased by a lion or an angry mob. At that point your fight or flight instincts are right on the money. But as long as your life is in no danger, a smile and then a deep breath work. At least they do for me. You will get strange looks when you break into a smile during a tense situation. Folks may think you are crazy, and may get more fired up that you aren’t taking them seriously. I don’t worry about what other people think – I figure they prefer a smile to a felonious assault. We all need tactics to handle the stress in our lives. Figure out what works for you, and make it a point to practice. The unfortunate truth is that if you do security you will have plenty of opportunities for practice. –Mike Photo credit: “[077/365] Remember to Smile” originally uploaded by Leland Francisco The fine folks at the RSA Conference posted the talk Jennifer Minella and I did on mindfulness at the conference this year. You can check it out on YouTube. Take an hour and check it out. Your emails, alerts and Twitter timeline will be there when you get back. Securosis Firestarter Have you checked out our new video podcast? Rich, Adrian, and Mike get into a Google Hangout and.. hang out. We talk a bit about security as well. We try to keep these to 15 minutes or less, and usually fail. August 18 – You Can’t Handle the Gartner July 22 – Hacker Summer Camp July 14 – China and Career Advancement June 30 – G Who Shall Not Be Named June 17 – Apple and Privacy May 19 – Wanted Posters and SleepyCon May 12 – Another 3 for 5: McAfee/OSVDB, XP Not Dead, CEO head rolling May 5 – There Is No SecDevOps April 28 – The Verizon DBIR April 14 – Three for Five Heavy Research We are back at work on a variety of blog series, so here is a list of the research currently underway. Remember you can get our Heavy Feed via RSS, with our content in all its unabridged glory. And you can get all our research papers too. The Security Pro’s Guide to Cloud File Storage and Collaboration Additional Security Features Core Security Features Overview and Baseline Security Introduction Trends in Data Centric Security Deployment Models Tools Introduction Use Cases Understanding Role-based Access Control Advanced Concepts Introduction NoSQL Security 2.0 Understanding NoSQL Platforms Introduction Newly Published Papers The 2015 Endpoint and Mobile Security Buyer’s Guide Open Source Development and Application Security Analysis Advanced Endpoint and Server Protection Defending Against Network-based DDoS Attacks Reducing Attack Surface with Application Control Leveraging Threat Intelligence in Security Monitoring The Future of Security Security Management 2.5: Replacing Your SIEM Yet? Defending Data on iOS 7 Incite 4 U Pay Apple: With Apple’s announcement today of Apple Pay, they have now released some details of how their payment architecture will work. Yes, it’s a

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Secure Agile Development: Agile and Agile Trends

If you are a developer reading this series, you probably have a feel for what Agile development means. For those of you who don’t live it every day, or have read the exceedingly poor Wikipedia page on Agile software development, you are probably wondering what this is all about. In the simplest terms, Agile software development is a set of techniques for building the intended software with fewer errors and better predictability. Each technique is intended to address common failures in ‘waterfall’ development: complexity, poor communication, and infrequent code validation. So Agile approaches embrace simplicity of task, fast turnaround for smaller pieces of working code, and a preference for human interaction over email/document/process oriented interaction. Simpler tasks make it harder for developers to misunderstand what the code is meant to do. Faster iteration produces working code more often, with three distinct benefits: early confirmation that you are building the correct solution, quicker detection of breakage, and more accurate project completion estimates. Face-to-face human interaction helps clarify what everyone on the team is building, and greatly reduces communication errors – which are far too common with ambiguous documentation and code specifications. Smaller, simpler, and faster. The most popular flavor of Agile today, by a large margin, is Agile with Scrum. Each characteristic of this approach has been selected to support agility. For example short development ‘sprints’, typically 1-4 weeks, are used rather than the 18-month cycles common to traditional waterfall development. Agile with Scrum relies on daily ‘scrum’ meetings, where all the developers meet face-to-face to discuss what they will be working on that day. Developers receive their tasks on 3×5 cards, which quite effectively limits task complexity. Each sprint focuses on iterative improvements rather than complete feature delivery. This ensures that only functional code modules are checked in – unlike waterfall where every feature is typically crammed in on deadline. If you need more information, Ken Schwaber’s book Agile Project Management with Scrum is the best reference we have found, so pick up a copy if you want detailed information. So why do security professionals care? Because development has shifted focus to smaller, simpler, and faster – effectively excluding slow, indeterminate, and complex security tasks. Over the past 15 years development processes have evolved from waterfall, to rapid development, to extreme programing, to Agile, to Agile with Scrum, to the current darling: DevOps. Each evolutionary step was taken to build better software by improving the process of building software. And each step embraced changes in tools, languages, and systems to encourage Agile processes while discouraging slower and cumbersome processes. The fast flux of development evolution deprecated everything that did not mesh well with the new Agile model – including security. Agile got a bad rap with security because the aspects that promoted better software development (in most ways) broke conventional approaches to building security into code. There are several areas of conflict. Tests that do not fit the Agile process: The classic example is development teams moving to a 2-week Agile ‘sprint’, when security relied on 2 months of automated fuzz testing. Security data that does not integrate with development systems: The classic example is external penetration testers who identify thousands of instances of hundreds of vulnerabilities, then dump unexplained findings onto development teams, who have no idea what to do with the results. Security tools that do not integrate with development realities: The classic illustration is testing tools which required 100% of code, with all supporting libraries, to be fully built before tests can be conducted. This prerequisite breaks small iterative code changes, delivered weekly or daily. Insufficient knowledge: Just a few years ago most developers did not understand XSS or CSRF, and when they did, it was unclear how these issues should be addressed across the code base. Understanding threats and remediation were not common skills. Getting security into the work queue: The move from waterfall to Agile meant the removal of specific security testing phases, or ‘gates’ in the waterfall process. For security features or fixes to be integrated, they must now be documented as tasks, and then prioritized over other features – otherwise security gets ‘starved’ off the development queue. Policies: A big book of security policies, vulnerabilities, and requirements is extremely un-Agile. One of waterfall development’s most serious issues is large complex specifications that confuse developers. Agile development is an effort to protect developers from such confusing and unwieldy presentation of essential information. During this amazing period of advancement in software development, we have seen an equally amazing evolution among hackers and attacks against applications of all sorts. Security has largely remained static, but there are plenty of ways to integrate security into software development, provided you are willing to make the necessary adjustments. Our next post will help you do so. Share:

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