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HP sheds light on enterprise giants' security know-how

18 Dec 2012
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HP has released a study which examines the security policies of the largest brands in the IT and finance space and issues a set of best practices for all firms.

Dubbed the Building Security In Maturity Model (BSIMM), the report outlines a series of recommendations for how companies structure and practice their secure software development programmes.

This year's study examined some 51 firms to determine the most pervasive and effective techniques for building secure applications. Participants included Microsoft, Google, Bank of America, Salesforce and Visa.

Gary McGraw, chief technology officer at consulting firm Cigital and co-author of the report, said that despite their wide range of products and specialisations, the study found that the best practices were able translate across the software, finance and even mobile markets.

"The software activity undertaken by banks are exact the same as the practices undertaken by Google and Microsoft," McGraw told V3.

"Our theory was they would not be the same but it turns out they are more alike than different."

That uniformity has enabled researchers to develop a set of 12 recommendations for companies on how security is planned and deployed in the development cycle.

The best practices range from simple items such as network security and firewall deployments to strategic initiatives including training staff on basic security and best practices.

Other initiatives on the list include the identification of where security "gateway" protections can be placed in applications and how application architectures can impact the security of software.

The researchers also advised companies to look outside of their own walls, maintaining intelligence on attack trends and new threats as well as constantly test applications and services for new vulnerabilities.

"Many firms conduct this with external penetration testing," said Jacob West, chief technology officer for HP Fortify Products.

"This can be a big motivator if you are an organisation that does not understand it has a problem yet, because generally these reports come back with very critical issues."

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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