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Difference between revisions of "SAMM - Code Review - 3"

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Revision as of 00:50, 5 May 2009

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Code Review - 3

Objective: Mandate comprehensive code review process to discover language-level and application-specific risks


  • Increased confidence in accuracy and applicability of code analysis results
  • Organization-wide baseline for secure coding expectations
  • Project teams with an objective goal for judging code-level security

Add’l Success Metrics

  • >50% of projects using code analysis customizations
  • >75% of projects passing code review audit in past 6 months

Add’l Costs

  • Buildout and maintenance of custom code review checks
  • Ongoing project overhead from code review audit
  • Organization overhead from project delays caused by failed code review audits

Add’l Personnel

  • Architects (1 day/yr)
  • Developers (1 day/yr)
  • Security Auditors (1-2 days/yr)
  • Business Owners (1 day/yr)
  • Managers (1 day/yr)

Related Levels

  • Policy & Compliance - 2
  • Secure Architecture - 3


A. Customize code analysis for application-specific concerns

Code scanning tools are powered by built-in a knowledge-base of rules to check code based on language APIs and commonly used libraries, but have limited ability to understand custom APIs and designs to apply analogous checks. However, through customization, a code scanner can be a powerful, generic analysis engine for finding organization and project-specific security concerns.

While details vary between tools in terms of ease and power of custom analysis, code scanner customization generally involves specifying checks to be performed at specific APIs and function call sites. Checks can include analysis for adherence to internal coding standards, unchecked tainted data being passed to custom interfaces, tracking and verification of sensitive data handling, correct usage of an internal API, etc.

Checkers for usage of shared code-bases are an effective place to begin scanner customizations since the created checkers can be utilized across multiple projects. To customize a tool for a code-base, a security auditor should inspect both code and high-level design to identify candidate checkers to discuss with development staff and stakeholders for implementation.

B. Establish release gates for code review

To set a code-level security baseline for all software projects, a particular point in the software development life-cycle should be established as a checkpoint where a minimum standard for code review results must be met in order to make a release.

To begin, this standard should be straightforward to meet, for example by choosing one or two vulnerability types and a setting the standard that no project may pass with any corresponding findings. Over time, this baseline standard should be improved by adding additional criteria for passing the checkpoint.

Generally, the code review checkpoint should occur toward the end of the implementation phase, but must occur before release.

For legacy systems or inactive projects, an exception process should be created to allow those projects to continue operations, but with an explicitly assigned timeframe for mitigation of findings. Exceptions should be limited to no more that 20% of all projects.

Additional Resources