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  • 2020weirphd

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Using Workshops to Improve Security in Software Development Teams

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date23/11/2020
Number of pages206
Awarding Institution
Award date8/09/2020
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Though some software development teams are highly effective at delivering security, others either do not care or do not have access to security experts to teach them how. Unfortunately, these latter teams are still responsible for the security of the systems they build: systems that are ever more important to ever more people. Yet many, perhaps most, security problems can be prevented with careful design, construction and configuration of the software and systems involved, so software developers have a major contribution to make.

This research investigated how to help teams of software developers achieve better security. An initial qualitative survey of 15 secure software development professionals highlighted a range of security assurance and motivation techniques suitable for teams of developers, and emphasised the human interaction aspects. A further quantitative survey of 330 successful Android developers then identified a baseline of current security practices in software development.

Based on these surveys, the author created an intervention package to help software developers. Action Research techniques were used to trial and improve it in two one-year cycles with a total of 19 development teams in 11 different organisations. The later development of the package concentrated on empowering the developers involved, and reducing the involvement required from the researchers.

By proving that a set of structured workshops can have an impact on the security performance of a team for a reasonable cost and without the support of security professionals, this research offers a powerful means to enhance development security in the UK, creating more secure software and systems for all users.