Developers Need Support, Too: A Survey of Security Advice for Software Developers

Yasemin Acar, Christian Stransky, Dominik Wermke, Charles Weir, Michelle L. Mazurek, and Sascha Fahl.
IEEE Secure Development Conference (SecDev '17)
September 24-26, 2017
Conference publication


Increasingly developers are becoming aware of the importance of software security, as frequent high-profile security incidents emphasize the need for secure code. Faced with this new problem, most developers will use their normal approach: web search. But are the resulting web resources useful and effective at promoting security in practice? Recent research has identified security problems arising from Q&A resources that help with specific secure-programming problems, but the web also contains many general resources that discuss security and secure programming more broadly, and to our knowledge few if any of these have been empirically evaluated. The continuing prevalence of security bugs suggests that this guidance ecosystem is not currently working well enough: either effective guidance is not available, or it is not reaching the developers who need it.

This paper takes a first step toward understanding and improving this guidance ecosystem by identifying and analyzing 19 general advice resources. The results identify important gaps in the current ecosystem and provide a basis for future work evaluating existing resources and developing new ones to fill these gaps.