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Web app security best practices and the people who love them

Jeremiah Grossman | Oct. 31, 2013
Creating more secure software is more important than simply buying more security software, says WhiteHat Security's Jeremiah Grossman

We also wanted to know which parts of the organization are held accountable in the event of a website data or system breach. By analyzing our survey data, we see evidence of a direct correlation between increased accountability and decreased breaches, and of the efficacy of "best-practices" and security controls.

For example, if developers are required by compliance to attend security training — both of which are 'best practices' — they'll view it as something they "have to do" and not internalize much of anything they've learned in training. However, if the organization places accountability on developers should a breach occur, all of(a sudden training effectiveness increases, because now there is an obvious incentive to learn. For security to really improve, some part of the organization must be held accountable, and this seems to be proven by our data. When asked specifically about accountability within their departments and how it relates to breach occurrence, we found:

In software development, if some team or member within the organization was held accountable, 71 percnet had no breach, while only 24 percent said there was.

Each part of the organization, including the executive management and board of directors, showed similar results. This leads one to believe that accountability matters a great deal and furthermore, when you empower those who are also accountable, whatever best-practices are then put into place have a higher likelihood of being effective. The hope is that more organizations will start recognizing the critical need to find this balance between accountability and best practices, and in turn this will lead to the creation of more secure software, earlier in the lifecycle of the business so IT staff is not waiting until a breach or other catastrophic event occurs.


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