Several government cybersecurity agencies united to urge secure-by-design and secure-by-default software. Releasing “joint guidance” for software manufactuers were two U.S. security agencies — the FBI and the NSA — joined with the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the cybersecurity authorities of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, and New Zealand. “To create a future where technology and associated products are safe for customers,” they wrote in a joint statement, “the authoring agencies urge manufacturers to revamp their design and development programs to permit only secure-by-design and -default products to be shipped to customers.”
The Washington Post reports:
Software manufacturers should put an end to default passwords, write in safer programming languages and establish vulnerability disclosure programs for reporting flaws, a collection of U.S. and international government agencies said in new guidelines Thursday. [The guidelines also urge rigorous code reviews.]
The “principles and approaches” document, which isn’t mandatory but lays out the agencies’ views on securing software, is the first major step by the Biden administration as part of its push to make software products secure as part of the design process, and to make their default settings secure as well. It’s part of a potentially contentious multiyear effort that aims to shift the way software makers secure their products. It was a key feature of the administration’s national cybersecurity strategy, which was released last month and emphasized shifting the burden of security from consumers — who have to manage frequent software updates — to the companies that make often insecure products… The administration has also raised the prospect of legislation on secure-by-design and secure-by-default, but officials have said it could be years away….
The [international affairs think tank] Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative has praised the Biden administration’s desire to address economic incentives for insecurity. Right now, the costs of cyberattacks fall on users more than they do tech providers, according to many policymakers. “They’re on a righteous mission,” Trey Herr, director of the Atlantic Council initiative, told me. If today’s guidelines are the beginning of the discussion on secure-by-design and secure-by-default, Herr said, “this is a really strong start, and an important one.”
“It really takes aim at security features as a profit center,” which for some companies has led to a lot of financial growth, Herr said. “I do think that’s going to rub people the wrong way and quick, but that’s good. That’s a good fight.”
In the statement CISA’s director says consumers also have a role to play in this transition. “As software now powers the critical systems and services we collectively rely upon every day, consumers must demand that manufacturers prioritize product safety above all else.”
Among other things, the new guidelines say that manufacturers “are encouraged make hard tradeoffs and investments, including those that will be ‘invisible’ to the customers, such as migrating to programming languages that eliminate widespread vulnerabilities.”
Read more of this story at Slashdot.