Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Ranum on Secure Code

I just read an interesting article by Marcus Ranum titled Security: The root of the problem. Marcus makes some very good observations:

"We're stuck in an endless loop on the education concept. We've been trying to educate programmers about writing secure code for at least a decade and it flat-out hasn't worked. While I'm the first to agree that beating one's head against the wall shows dedication, I am starting to wonder if we've chosen the wrong wall. What's Plan B?"

Marcus' "Plan B" is trying to add more security checking at compile-time, or at least pay attention to and address the warnings already output by compilers given the -Wall flag. In his words:

"I think that Plan B is largely a matter of doing a lot more work on our compiler and runtime environments, with a focus on making them embed more support for code quality and error checking. We've got to put it 'below the radar screen' of the programmer's awareness, just as we did with compiler optimization, the creation of object code, and linking. We've done a great job building programming environments that produce fast executables without a lot of hand-holding from the programmer. In fact, most programmers today take optimization completely for granted—why not software security analysis and runtime security, too? For that matter, why are we still treating security as a separate problem from code quality? Insecure code is just buggy code!"

I recommend reading the whole article and forming your own opinion on this matter, but I think Marcus' ideas makes good sense.


tweedledeetweedledum said...
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Anonymous said...

Thanks Richard.