White Paper: High Assurance Software Development

Galois is pleased to announce a new white paper entitled High Assurance Software Development, written by David Burke, Joe Hurd and Aaron Tomb.

The purpose of this paper is describe how to make software assurance a part of a science of security. Software assurance as practiced is a grab-bag of techniques, heuristics, and lessons learned from earlier failures. Given the importance of software to critical infrastructures (electricity, banking, medicine), this is an untenable situation; the smooth functioning of our society depends on this software, and we need a more rigorous foundation for assessments about the trustworthiness of these systems.

In this paper we present an evidence-based approach to high assurance, in which diverse development teams can communicate in a common language to tackle the challenges of developing secure systems. Furthermore, this framework supports formal inference techniques (in particular, a trust relationship analysis), so that we can use automated reasoning to deal with scalability issues. Perhaps most importantly, an evidence-based approach lets us tailor the tools that we bring to bear on each claim: formal methods: testing; configuration management; and so forth all have their place in an assurance argument. In the end, it’s all about deploying systems where the residual risk has been minimized, given finite resources and time. Understanding this and managing it effectively is what the science of security is all about.