Securing the Design Process

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2004-02-25 Print this article Print

Microsofts security efforts have borne fruit. For example, SQL Server 2000 has only had one critical alert since Service Pack 3 shipped over a year ago. For its part, Yukon is being designed using a three-part process. First, Microsoft sends program managers, developers and testers through security training so theyll understand what the most common types of flaws are in developers code. Such common flaws include opening ports, buffer overruns and integer overruns, Rizzo said. Next, as product features are being designed, product managers follow a ritual of asking security-related questions about the feature, such as, whats the security of this feature? Does it open ports? And, is it vulnerable to injection attacks?Only then are developers free to go off and build a given feature.
The third leg of security comes in with the use of automated tools that scan each line of code, plucking out commonly made mistakes. Such automated tools are a help. Line-by-line, manual code analysis was performed on SQL Server 2000 and 7.0—a process that took some three months, Rizzo said—back when Microsofts security push resulted in Service Pack 3.
Microsoft has also been staffing up its SWAT teams, which consist of ethical hackers who try to crack Yukon and other SQL Server versions. Rizzo said that recently Microsoft added "a whole bunch" of ethical hackers to the SQL Server team but declined to name how many new staffers were brought on-board. "Of the 1,000 people who work on SQL Server, securitys top of mind," he said. "Even though we have a SWAT team, everyones on the SWAT team." Check out eWEEK.coms Database Center at for more database news, views and analysis. Be sure to add our database news feed to your RSS newsreader:

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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