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Case Study: Cisco Group Bakes Security into Web App Dev Process

“To know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice.”

That phrase was uttered by Confucius 2,500 years ago, but reflects the spirit behind a recent revamp of a Cisco web app development process that made it more effective and secure.

“This is important as we talk about the secure software development lifecycle, because we weren’t doing what we needed to do, even though we knew what was right,” said Robert Martin, security engineer in Cisco’s Government Trust and Technology Services group.

In a nutshell, the process had fallen into a vicious cycle that pleased no one: Little communication between developers and security pros, combined with late vulnerability scans, yielded buggy software that had to be belatedly fixed, leading to missed deployment deadlines.

“We were making the same mistakes over and over again, and we weren’t making any corrections,” Martin said.

Sound familiar? This is a scenario in which countless organizations have found themselves. After years of using a linear, siloed model for creating and releasing software, organizations discover that this approach doesn’t work well in the era of rapid, agile web development and deployment.

To the credit of Martin and his group, they did something about this, instead of simply plodding along and settling for the status quo.

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