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The Latest Research in Software Engineering and Cybersecurity

The SEI has devoted extensive time and effort to defining meaningful metrics and measures for software quality, software security, information security, and continuity of operations. The ability of organizations to measure and track the impact of changes--as well as changes in trends over time--are important tools to effectively manage operational resilience, which is the measure of an organization's ability to perform its mission in the presence of operational stress and disruption. For any organization--whether Department of Defense (DoD), federal civilian agencies, or industry--the ability to protect and sustain essential assets and services is critical and can help ensure a return to normalcy when the disruption or stress is eliminated. This blog posting describes our research to help organizational leaders manage critical services in the presence of disruption by presenting objectives and strategic measures for operational resilience, as well as tools to help them select and define those measures.

This post is the second installment in a two-part series describing our recent engagement with Bursatec to create a reliable and fast new trading system for Groupo Bolsa Mexicana de Valores (BMV, the Mexican Stock Exchange). This project combined elements of the SEI's Architecture Centric Engineering (ACE) method, which requires effective use of software architecture to guide system development, with its Team Software Process (TSP), which is a team-centric approach to developing software that enables organizations to better plan and measure their work and improve software development productivity to gain greater confidence in quality and cost estimates. The first postexamined how ACE was applied within the context of TSP. This posting focuses on the development of the system architecture for Bursatec within the TSP framework.

Bursatec, the technology arm of Groupo Bolsa Mexicana de Valores (BMV, the Mexican Stock Exchange), recently embarked on a project to replace three existing trading engines with one system developed in house. Given the competitiveness of global financial markets and recent interest in Latin American economies, Bursatec needed a reliable and fast new system that could work ceaselessly throughout the day and handle sharp fluctuations in trading volume. To meet these demands, the SEI suggested combining elements of its Architecture Centric Engineering (ACE) method, which requires effective use of software architecture to guide system development, with its Team Software Process (TSP), which teaches software developers the skills they need to make and track plans and produce high-quality products. This posting--the first in a two-part series--describes the challenges Bursatec faced and outlines how working with the SEI and combining ACE with TSP helped them address those challenges.

Background: In our research and acquisition work on commercial and Department of Defense (DoD) programs, we see many systems with critical safety and security ramifications. With such systems, safety and security engineering are used to managing the risks of accidents and attacks. Safety and security requirements should therefore be engineered to ensure that residual safety and security risks will be acceptable to system stakeholders. The first post in this series explored problems with quality requirements in general and safety and security requirements in particular. The second post, took a deeper dive into key obstacles that acquisition and development organizations encounter concerning safety- and security-related requirements. This post introduces a collaborative method for engineering these requirements that overcomes the obstacles identified in earlier posts.

Malware, which is short for "malicious software," consists of programming aimed at disrupting or denying operation, gathering private information without consent, gaining unauthorized access to system resources, and other inappropriate behavior. Malware infestation is of increasing concern to government and commercial organizations. For example, according to the Global Threat Report from Cisco Security Intelligence Operations, there were 287,298 "unique malware encounters" in June 2011, double the number of incidents that occurred in March. To help mitigate the threat of malware, researchers at the SEI are investigating the origin of executable software binaries that often take the form of malware. This posting augments a previous postingdescribing our research on using classification (a form of machine learning) to detect "provenance similarities" in binaries, which means that they have been compiled from similar source code (e.g., differing by only minor revisions) and with similar compilers (e.g., different versions of Microsoft Visual C++ or different levels of optimization).

A reliable, secure energy supply is vital to our economy, our security, and our well being. A key component of achieving a reliable and secure energy supply is the "smart grid" initiative. This initiative is a modernization effort that employs distributed sensing and control technologies, advanced communication systems, and digital automation to enable the electric power grid to respond intelligently to fluctuations in energy supply and demand, the actions of consumers, and market forces with an overall objective to improve grid efficiency and reliability. A smart grid will also allow homeowners to track energy consumption and adjust their habits accordingly. This posting describes several initiatives that the SEI has taken to support power utility companies in their modernization efforts to create a smart grid.

Happy Labor Day from all of us here at the SEI. I'd like to take advantage of this special occasion to keep you apprised of some recent technical reports and notes from the SEI. It's part of an ongoing effort to keep you informed about our latest work. These reports highlight the latest work of SEI technologists in architecting service-oriented systems, operational resilience, standards-based automated remediation, and acquisition. This post includes a listing of each report, author/s, and links where the published reports can be accessed on the SEI website.

Background: Over the past decade, the U.S. Air Force has asked the SEI's Acquisition Support Program (ASP) to conduct a number of Independent Technical Assessments (ITAs) on acquisition programs related to the development of IT systems; communications, command and control; avionics; and electronic warfare systems. This blog posting is the latest installment in a series that explores common themes across acquisition programs that we identified as a result of our ITA work. Previous themes explored in this series include Misaligned Incentives, The Need to Sell the Program, and The Evolution of "Science Projects."This post explores the fourth theme: common infrastructure and joint programs, which describes a key issue that arises when multiple organizations attempt to cooperate in the development of a single system, infrastructure, or capability that will be used and shared by all parties.