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The Latest Research in Software Engineering and Cybersecurity

Testing plays a critical role in the development of software-reliant systems. Even with the most diligent efforts of requirements engineers, designers, and programmers, faults inevitably occur. These faults are most commonly discovered and removed by testing the system and comparing what it does to what it is supposed to do. This blog posting summarizes a method that improves testing outcomes (including efficacy and cost) in a software-reliant system by using an architectural design approach, which describes a coherent set of architectural decisions taken by architects to help meet the behavioral and quality attribute requirements of systems being developed.

Software sustainment is growing in importance as the inventory of DoD systems continues to age and greater emphasis is placed on efficiency and productivity in defense spending. In part 1 of this series, I summarized key software sustainment challenges facing the DoD. In this blog posting, I describe some of the R&D activities conducted by the SEI to address these challenges.

The 2011 CyberSecurity Watch survey revealed that 27 percent of cybersecurity attacks against organizations were caused by disgruntled, greedy, or subversive insiders, employees, or contractors with access to that organization's network systems or data. Of the 607 survey respondents, 43 percent view insider threat attacks as more costly and cited not only a financial loss but also damage to reputation, critical system disruption, and loss of confidential or proprietary information. For the Department of Defense (DoD) and industry, combating insider threat attacks is hard due to the authorized physical and logical access of insiders to organization systems and intimate knowledge of organizations themselves.

Department of Defense (DoD) programs have traditionally focused on the software acquisition phase (initial procurement, development, production, and deployment) and largely discounted the software sustainment phase (operations and support) until late in the lifecycle. The costs of software sustainment are becoming too high to discount since they account for 60 to 90 percent of the total software lifecycle effort.

Occasionally this blog will highlight different posts from the SEI blogosphere. Today's post is from the SATURN Network blog by Nanette Brown, a senior member of the technical staff in the SEI's Research, Technology, and System Solutions program. This post, the third in a series on lean principles and architecture, continues the discussion on the eight types of waste identified in Lean manufacturing and how these types of waste manifst themselves in software development. The focus of this post is on mapping the waste of motion and the waste of transportation from manufacturing to the waste of information transformation in software development.

Organizations run on data. They use it to manage programs, select products to fund or develop, make decisions, and guide improvement. Data comes in many forms, both structured (tables of numbers and text) and unstructured (emails, images, sound, etc.). Data are generally considered high quality if they are fit for their intended uses in operations, decision making, and planning. This definition implies that data quality is both a subjective perception of individuals involved with the data, as well as the quality associated with the objective measurements based on the data set in question. This post describes the work we're doing with the Office of Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L)--a division of the Department of Defense (DoD) that oversees acquisition programs and is charged with, among other things, ensuring that the data reported to Congress is reliable.

Background: In our research and acquisition work on commercial and Department of Defense (DoD) programs, ranging from relatively simple two-tier data-processing applications to large-scale multi-tier weapons systems, one of the primary problems that we see repeatedly is that acquisitionand development organizations encounter the following three obstacles concerning safety- and security-related requirements:

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 post is the third in a series that enumerates common themes across acquisition programs that we identified as a result of our ITA work. Other themes explored in this series include misaligned incentives, the need to sell the program, and common infrastructure and joint programs. This post explores the third theme in this series, the evolution of "science projects," which describes how prototype projects that unexpectedly grow in size and scope during development often have difficulty transitioning into a formal acquisition program.