22

Product Testing and Verification

We've touched on security testing repeatedly in this book. In Chapter 7 we talked about choosing a cryptographic primitive, and how the best way to test cryptography is years of public cryptanalysis. In Chapter 8 we talked about assurance levels for secure computers—the Orange Book, the Common Criteria—and testing to verify compliance. Chapter 13 discussed software reliability, and how bugs turn into security vulnerabilities. Testing is where the rubber meets the road: It's one thing to model the threats, design the security policy, and build the countermeasures, but do those countermeasures actually work? Sure, you've got a pretty firewall/antivirus package/VPN/pay-TV antifraud system/biometric authentication system/smart card–based digital cash system/e-mail encryption product, but is it actually secure? Most security products on the market are not, and the reason is a failure of testing.

Normal security testing fails for several reasons. First, security flaws can appear anywhere. They can be in the trust model, the system design, the algorithms and protocols, the implementation, the source code, the human–computer interface, the procedures, or the underlying computer system (hardware, operating system, or other software). Second, a single flaw can break the security of the entire product. Remember that security is a chain, and only as secure as the weakest link. Real products have a lot of links. Third and most important, these flaws cannot ...

Get Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World, 15th Anniversary Edition now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.