Microsoft on ‘Building Security In Maturity Model’

Last week I went to a presentation on the Building Security In Maturity Model by Gary McGraw. They interviewed about ten organisations who did have a software security team and asked them what they actually do today to make software more secure. They specifically went for a data-driven apporach, no “what could we do” but a 100% focus on “what do they do”. Piling all that information together, some magic processing (read: spreadsheet magic) and you have the Building Security In Maturity Model.

Microsoft was one of the organizatons participating in this effort. Steve Lipner himself wrote about how he experienced this effort and what he thinks from the outcome. One part of his article I would like to emphasise:

I’ve historically not been a fan of “maturity models” because many of them are so abstract and paper-oriented that you can rate “high” on the maturity model and still fail at whatever attribute of your products and processes (quality, timeliness, security) the model purports to measure.  In contrast, I like the BSIMM because

·         It’s specific.  The measures in the BSIMM are things that an development organization actually does to produce secure software.

·         It’s real-world.  Gary, Sammy, and Brian made a rule that no activity would be included in the BSIMM unless at least one of the organizations they interviewed actually performed that activity.

I have about the same idea on maturity models as Steve has. But then, I am mostly sceptical about any model and framework that abstracts away reality so vigorously that I wonder how any organization can successfully use them to achieve improvement.