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Beautiful Security by Andy Oram, John Viega

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Chapter 10. Security by Design

John McManus

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,”—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”

Beauty is not skin deep. True beauty is a reflection of all aspects of a person, object, or system. In security, beauty appears in simplicity and graceful design, a product of treating security as a critical goal early in the system design lifecycle. In properly designed systems, security is an integral attribute of the system, designed, built, and tested; it is lightweight and adaptive, allowing the overall system to remain agile in the face of evolving requirements. When security is treated as an afterthought, or developed independently from the overall system design requirements, it is most often ugly and inflexible.

Several experiences during my career have had a profound impact on my views on information security and my overall system development philosophy. The first was at NASA’s Langley Research Center. The second was a four-year period where I worked on software quality, reliability, usability, and security, first at Reliable Software Technologies (now known as Cigital) and then as the vice president of the Software Technology Center at Bell Labs. The lessons I learned and the fantastic teams I had the opportunity to work with demonstrated to me that security and all of the other important “ilities” (e.g., quality, reliability, availability, maintainability, and usability) are highly interrelated, and are achievable ...

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