Overview of the book’s content

The book consists of 13 chapters organized into three parts, covering concepts, design, and implementation, plus a conclusion.

Part I: Concepts

Chapters 1 through 5 provide a conceptual basis for the rest of book.

Chapter 1: Foundations, is an overview of information security and privacy fundamentals. Chapter 2: Threats, introduces threat modeling, fleshing out the core concepts of attack surfaces and trust boundaries in the context of protecting assets. The next three chapters introduce valuable tools available to readers for building secure software. Chapter 3: Mitigations, discusses commonly used strategies for defensively mitigating identified threats. Chapter 4: Patterns, presents a number of effective security design patterns and flags some anti-patterns to avoid. Chapter 5: Cryptography, takes a toolbox approach to explaining how to use standard cryptographic libraries to mitigate common risks, without going into the underlying math (which is rarely needed in practice).

Part II: Design

This part of the book represents perhaps its most unique and important contribution to prospective readers. Chapter 6: Secure Design, and Chapter 7: Security Design Reviews, offer guidance on secure software design and practical techniques for how to accomplish it, approaching the subject from the designer’s and reviewer’s perspectives, respectively. In the process, they explain why it’s important to bake security into software design from the beginning. These chapters draw on the ideas introduced in the first part of the book, offering specific methodologies for how to incorporate them to build a secure design. The review methodology is directly based on my industry experience, including a step-by-step process you can adapt to how you work. Consider browsing the sample design document in Appendix A while reading these chapters as an example of how to put these ideas into practice.

Part III: Implementation

Chapters 8 through 13 cover security at the implementation stage and touch on deployment, operations, and end-of-life. Once you have a secure design, this part of the book explains how to develop software without introducing additional vulnerabilities. These chapters include snippets of code, illustrating both how vulnerabilities creep into code and how to avoid them.

Chapter 8: Secure Programming, introduces the security challenge that programmers face and what real vulnerabilities actually look like in code. Chapter 9: Low-Level Coding Flaws, covers the foibles of computer arithmetic and how C-style explicit management of dynamic memory allocation can undermine security. Chapter 10: Untrusted Input, and Chapter 11: Web Security, cover many of the commonplace bugs that have been well known for many years but just don’t seem to go away (such as injection, path traversal, XSS, and CSRF vulnerabilities). Chapter 12: Security Testing, covers the greatly underutilized practice of testing to ensure that your code is secure. Chapter 13: Secure Development Best Practices, rounds out the secure implementation guidance, covering some general best practices and providing cautionary warnings about common pitfalls.


The Afterword concludes the book and describes some ways that I hope it will make a positive impact. Here I summarize the key points made in the book, attempt to peer into the future, and offer speculative ideas that could help ratchet software security upward, beginning with a vision for how this book can contribute to more secure software going forward.


Appendix A is a sample design document that illustrates what security- aware design looks like in practice. Appendix B is a glossary of software security terms that appear throughout the book. Appendix C includes some open-ended exercises and questions that ambitious readers might enjoy researching. Appendix D consists of a collection of cheat sheets that summarize key concepts and processes.