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Writing Secure Code: Practical Strategies and Proven Techniques for Building Secure Applications in a Networked World (Developer Best Practices) 2nd ed. Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0735617223
ISBN-10: 0735617228
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael Howard, CISSP, is a leading security expert. He is a senior security program manager at Microsoft® and the coauthor of The Software Security Development Lifecycle. Michael has worked on Windows security since 1992 and now focuses on secure design, programming, and testing techniques. He is the consulting editor for the Secure Software Development Series of books by Microsoft Press.

David LeBlanc, Ph.D., is a founding member of the Trustworthy Computing Initiative at Microsoft®. He has been developing solutions for computing security issues since 1992 and has created award-winning tools for assessing network security and uncovering security vulnerabilities. David is a senior developer in the Microsoft Office Trustworthy Computing group.

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Product Details

  • Series: Developer Best Practices
  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Microsoft Press; 2nd ed. edition (December 22, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0735617228
  • ISBN-13: 978-0735617223
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 1.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #540,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The title of the book is misleading to begin with. The book is not about writing secure code. It's about (1) not writing non-secure code and (2) using Windows specific security APIs.
(1) Not writing non-secure code. Covers several issues, some more obvious, like buffer overruns and validating user input, some more complex, like escaping URLs and socket security. I thought the book would teach me best practices about organizing code, as in "do like I do". Instead it goes like "don't do like I'm telling you".
(2) Using Windows security APIs. This is THE BEST part of the book. Gives you a very good overview about several different APIs, including ACLs, protecting sensitive data, securing DCOM and .NET code, excellent tips on installing programs etc. etc.
Keep in mind that this book is said to be used internally within Microsoft with "security pushes", with the audience of 8000 people, including not only developers of all levels, but managers as well, therefore the book is by definition a high level overview.
Sometimes the book feels like MS educational course. Ex. (tip on p.77) "I created the ... diagrams ... using ... Microsoft Visio Professional 2002". That's cool, but what does it have to do with security ?
Some topics should never be there. How about 3 pages of tips for a kernel driver writer ? It's a huge topic in itself and how many readers outside MS do this anyway ? Privacy issues are covered idealistically. Yeah, sure, if you put a specially crafted XML to the special place on your site, the users magically start trusting you... I'd better read about real situation with privacy, not how the government rules it to be. Oh, and how about 40 pages about cryptography ? Please...
The book tries to show you the security process with development and testing.
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Format: Paperback
This book concentrates on a very important subject - writing secure code for Windows. In particular it focuses on two aspects: (a) correct coding techniques and how to avoid security pitfalls, and (b) the particular Windows security API and its usage.
For the above reason I will rate this book with 2.5 stars.
Why not 5 stars?
I found the text well padded with the author opinions, stories, and samples, which in many cases I felt where unneeded for me.
I also found it very exhausting trying to fish-out from all the text, the knowledge that I felt I needed.
Some of the motives kept on coming up. I will try to summon here few, using my words:
1. This book is extremely important thus you must read it.
2. This book is extremely important thus you must read it.
3. Some developers don't understand anything about security.
4. You cannot believe how ignorant or lazy developers can be.
5. Most developers will give wrong answer for my next question.
And so on...
Many of the examples in the book show 'what NOT to do' and common mistakes rather then what to do.
I must admit that somewhere around the middle of the book I started to read it in a selective way, trying to avoid redundant text.
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Format: Paperback
A pretty good book if you are not very familiar with security issues. It has a very good introductory on threat modeling concepts from software engineering point of view.
It does a good job alerting developers of potential risks in their day-to-day coding practices. Although this is achieved somtimes through blatant bluff.
When it comes down to the hardcore issues, the book just scratches the surface most of the time.
A typical software product manager's writing with some technical touch. This is said because of the quality of the sample code presented. If you have read Jeffrey Ritchter's book, you know what I mean.
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Format: Paperback
I got this book for free from Microsoft, because our company became a Microsoft Partner. I must admit that at first I was a little bit sceptical about it, because afterall this book is published by Microsoft and they have this reputation of selling rather insecure software themselves. But after reading the first few sections I knew it was going to be a very good read.
The book explains in very clear language almost every aspect of secure programming and gives a good overview of all common security flaws that can (and will!) enter your programming code. You'll learn how to securely design, implement, test and deploy your programs. Ofcourse buffer overruns are handled (Public Enemy #1 according to the authors), but that's only the tip of the iceberg. The book does a great job by identifying and providing solutions to common security pitfalls. Topics that are handled include: database access, user privileges and Access Control, Cryptography, handling secret data, user input, encoding and internationalization, RPC, DCOM, DOS attacks, .NET and writing secure program documentation.
I recommend this book to every programmer out there, even if you're not programming for the Win32-platform. Don't let the fact that this is a Microsoft publication refrain you from buying this book. If you are serious about writing secure programs this is the book to get.
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Format: Paperback
Every professional developer should read this book, period!
This book provides a great overview of what techniques are important when writing secure applications, and what pitfalls to avoid. The book does a good job at making a point through examples and by explaining possible exploits.
This book tries to cover a lot of ground. Most of the things discussed are for C++ developers. However, most of the things discussed are of general interest no matter what language one develops with.
I found myself wishing that the book covered a bit more about my development environment of choice: Visual Studio .NET. As mentioned above, I found all the content very interesting and applicable, but I think it would be good to have more than one chapter covering .NET specifically. I do realize however, that this book was first written before .NET. Perhaps someone will dedicate a book completely to .NET ("Writing Secure .NET Code" anyone?).
This book provides a solid foundation and teaches developers what to look for. However, the book is written for developers and managers alike and does not cover tons of implementation details. I would recommend this book to everyone as a first book to read about secure application development. It is not the last book people should read however. There are a number of good books available for a variety of environments (including .NET) that discuss specific implementations of various security and privacy techniques. Get several of those books as well!
Bottom line: This is a great book. Developers must read it. No "ifs" and "buts". Once you are done with this one though, get other security books and keep on reading...
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