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Communications of the ACM

Privacy and security

Security Assurance


Security Assurance, illustration

Credit: Alphaspirit

Security assurance has been the most challenging topic I have had to contend with in my 45 years working on computer security. While designing and building security features for user identification and authentication or for access control can be challenging, the most difficult task is assurance: making systems that can resist attack. Assurance affects not only security features but also any system component that will respond to untrusted input.

Assurance is achieved by integrating security into the process of designing, building, and testing systems. If security is well integrated into the development process, the resulting software will generally resist attack. In this column, I summarize my experience building a process for security assurance and how and why it works. I also describe providing customers with confidence a system achieves an appropriate degree of assurance.


 

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