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SAMM - Secure Architecture - 2

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Secure Architecture - 2

Objective: Direct the software design process toward known-secure services and secure-by-default designs


  • Detailed mapping of assets to user roles to encourage better compartmentalization in design
  • Reusable design building blocks for provision of security protections and functionality
  • Increased confidence for software projects from use of established design techniques for security

Add’l Success Metrics

  • >80% of projects with updated permission matrix in past 6 months
  • >80% of project teams briefed on applicable security patterns in past 6 months

Add’l Costs

  • Buildout or license of applicable security patterns
  • Ongoing project overhead from maintenance of permission matrix

Add’l Personnel

  • Architects (2-4 days/yr)
  • Developers (1-2 days/yr)
  • Managers (1-2 days/yr)
  • Business Owners (1 day/yr)
  • Security Auditors (1-2 days/yr)

Related Levels

  • Education & Guidance - 1


A. Identify and promote security services and infrastructure

Organizations should identify shared infrastructure or services with security functionality. These will typically include single-sign-on services, corporate directory systems, access control or entitlements services, and authentication systems. By collecting and evaluating reusable systems, assemble a list of such resources and categorize them by the security mechanism they fulfill. It is also helpful to consider each resource in terms of why a development team would want to integrate with it, i.e. the benefits of using the shared resource.

If multiple resources exist in each category, an organization should select and standardize on one or more shared service per category. Because future software development will rely on these selected services, each should be thoroughly audited to ensure the baseline security posture is understood. For each selected service, design guidance should be created for development teams to understand how to integrate with the system. After such guidance is assembled, it should be made available to development teams through training, mentorship, guidelines, and standards.

The benefits of doing this include promotion of known-secure systems, simplified security guidance for project design teams, and clearer paths to building assurance around the applications utilizing the shared security services.

B. Identify security design patterns from architecture

Across software projects at an organization, each should be categorized in terms of the generic architecture type. Common categories include client-server applications, embedded systems, desktop applications, web-facing applications, web services platforms, transactional middleware systems, mainframe applications, etc. Depending on your organizations specialty, more detailed categories may need to be developed based upon language, or processor architecture, or even era of deployment.

For the generic software architecture type, a set of general design patterns representing sound methods of implementing security functionality can be derived and applied to the individual designs of an organization’s software projects. These security design patterns represent general definitions of generic design elements they can be researched or purchased, and it is often even more effective if these patterns are customized to be made more specific to your organization. Example patterns include a single-sign-on subsystem, a cross-tier delegation model, a hardened interface design, separation-of-duties authorization model, a centralized logging pattern, etc.

The process of identification of applicable and appropriate patterns should be carried out by architects, senior developers, and other technical stakeholders during the design phase.

Additional Resources