Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Iron-Clad Java Book Blooper

About a year ago I helped some friends on a security book project, Iron-Clad Java: Building Security Web Applications (Amazon).  As we were winding down the project we received some early printed copies of the book from the publisher.  I remembered the feeling of seeing the project in printed form.  However, when I began flipping through the pages I noticed the Foreword was missing.  A missing foreword is not a big deal.  Still security is a really tough job for many of us.  I thought the foreword helped to call out some of the industry challenges while still keeping an encouraging message.  Following is the missing book foreword and our blooper.

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The greatest challenge in product security today is the fact that security quality is difficult for consumers to evaluate.  A product with little security design consideration and a weak security posture discloses few, if any, outward signs of being insecure.  Software security, like performance and scalability, cannot be effectively evaluated visually and requires specialized tools and training.  In a vacuum, consumers often mistakenly assume strong positive product safety unless news surfaces to shake that confidence.  As a result, with ever increasing pressure on business leaders to be more competitive, deliver more value to customers, security is frequently marginalized in favor of delivering more direct features with tangible business value.  There’s little incentive to pursue security excellence when consumers assume it already exists.  All too often, businesses roll the dice and short product security, explaining away incidents when they occur with excuses like: “hackers are becoming more sophisticated”, “security is too difficult a problem to solve”, or “everyone has bugs”.  As the number and severity of security incidents increases, the public’s patience for excuses grows weary.   Consumers are demanding more secure information systems and more accountability from business leaders and governments.  Product security claims are no longer accepted at face value.  As we transition from an era of plausible deniability to accountability, leaders are increasingly motivated to deepen their security investments.  In the end, strong security is a choice, and it always has been.  Security excellence is no accident.  It’s purposeful, requires dedication, and role appropriate education is essential to success.

In this book, Jim Manico and August Detlefsen tackle security education from a technical perspective and bring their wealth of industry knowledge and experience to application designers.  A significant amount of thought was given to include the most useful and relevant security content for designers to defend their applications.  This is not a book about security theories, it’s the hard lessons learned from those who have been exploited, turned into actionable items for application designers, and condensed into print.

One of the best things I enjoy about the field of security is that it’s small and still possible to reach out and touch your heroes.  Jim and August are my heroes and it’s an honor and privilege to be their technical editor on this project.  The hallmarks of true experts and expert teams are: confident but soft-spoken, good listeners, secure in their abilities and not afraid to explore the ideas of others.   Teams imbuing such qualities produce results like no other and working in this environment is educational for everyone.  Working on this project with Jim and August was a tremendous privilege.  It’s my sincerest hope you enjoy this book as much as we enjoyed bringing it to you. 

Milton Smith

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I happened to think of posting the book blooper since I noticed the Kindle Edition of the book includes the foreword and it's the books one year anniversary - Happy Birthday!  Congratulations Jim, August, Kevin, and crew.

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