Things seem a little strange over here at Securosis HQ- we’re getting a ton of feedback on an old post from November of 2006, but so far only one person has left us any real comments on our Building a Web Application Security Program series.

Just to make it clear, once we are done with the series we will be pulling the posts together, updating them to incorporate feedback, and publishing it as a whitepaper. We already have some sponsorship lined up, with slots open for up to two more.

This is a research process we like to call “Totally Transparent Research”. One of the criticisms against many analysts is that the research is opaque and potentially unduly influenced by vendors. The concern of vendor influence is especially high when the research carries a vendor logo on it somewhere. It’s an absolutely reasonable and legitimate worry, especially when the research comes from a small shop like ours.

To counter this, we decided from the start to put all our research out there in the open. Not just the final product, but the process of writing it in the first place. With few exceptions, all of our whitepaper research, sponsored or otherwise, is put out as a series of blog posts as we write it. At each stage we leave the comments wide open for public peer review- and we never delete or filter comments unless they are both off topic and objectionable (not counting spam). Vendors, competitors, users, or anyone else can call us on our BS or complement our genius.

This is all of our pre-edited content that eventually comes together for the papers. We also require that even sponsored papers always be freely available here on the site. Sponsors may get to request a topic, but they don’t get to influence the content (we do provide them with a rough outline so they know what to expect). We write the contracts so that if they don’t like the content in the end, they can walk without penalties and we’ll publish the work anyway. We do take the occasional suggestion from a sponsor when they catch something we miss, and it’s still objective (hey, it happens).

While we realize this won’t fully assuage the concerns of everyone out there, we really hope that by following a highly transparent process we can provide free research that’s as objective as possible. We also find that public peer review is invaluable and produces less insular results than us just reviewing internally. Yes, we take end user and vendor calls like every other analyst, but we also prefer to engage in a direct dialog with our readers, friends, and others. We also like Open Source, kittens, and puppies.

Not that we’ll be giving everything away for free- we have some stuff in development we’ll be charging for (that won’t be sponsored). But either we get sponsors, or we have to charge for everything. It’s not ideal, but that’s how the world works. Adrian has something like 12 dogs and I’m about to have a kid on top of 3 cats, and that food has to come from someplace.

So go ahead and correct us, insult us, or tell us a better way. We can handle it, and we won’t hide it.

And if you want to sponsor a web application security paper…