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SAMM - Secure Architecture - 1

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Secure Architecture - 1

Objective: Insert consideration of proactive security guidance into the software design process


  • Ad hoc prevention of unexpected dependencies and one-off implementation choices
  • Stakeholders aware of increased project risk due to libraries and frameworks chosen
  • Established protocol within development for proactively applying security mechanisms to a design

Success Metrics

  • >80% of development staff briefed on software framework recommendations in past 1 year
  • >50% of projects self-reporting application of security principles to design


  • Buildout, maintenance, and awareness of software framework recommendations
  • Ongoing project overhead from analysis and application of security principles


  • Architects (2-4 days/yr)
  • Developers (2-4 days/yr)
  • Security Auditors (2-4 days/yr)
  • Managers (2 days/yr)

Related Levels

  • Education & Guidance - 1


A. Maintain list of recommended software frameworks

Across software projects within the organization identify commonly used third-party software libraries and frameworks in use. Generally, this need not be an exhaustive search for dependencies, but rather focus on capturing the high-level components that are most often used.

From the list of components, group them into functional categories based on the core features provided by the third-party component. Also, note the usage prevalence of each component across project teams to weight the reliance upon the third-party code. Using this weighted list as a guide, create a list of components to be advertised across the development organization as recommended components.

Several factors should contribute to decisions for inclusion on the recommended list. Although a list can be created without conducting research specifically, it is advisable to inspect each for incident history, track record for responding to vulnerabilities, appropriateness of functionality for the organization, excessive complexity in usage of the third-party component, etc.

This list should be created by senior developers and architects, but also include input from managers and security auditors. After creation, this list of recommended components matched against functional categories should be advertised to the development organization. Ultimately, the goal is to provide well-known defaults for project teams.

B. Explicitly apply security principles to design

During design, technical staff on the project team should use a short list of guiding security principles as a checklist against detailed system designs. Typically, security principles include defense in depth, securing the weakest link, use of secure defaults, simplicity in design of security functionality, secure failure, balance of security and usability, running with least privilege, avoidance of security by obscurity, etc.

In particular for perimeter interfaces, the design team should consider each principle in the context of the overall system and identify features that can be added to bolster security at each such interface. Generally, these should be limited such that they only take a small amount of extra effort beyond the normal implementation cost of functional requirements and anything larger should be noted and scheduled for future releases.

While this process should be conducted by each project team after being trained with security awareness, it is helpful to incorporate more security-savvy staff to aide in making design decisions.

Additional Resources