Case Study of Agile Security Engineering: Building Identity Management for a Government Agency

Case Study of Agile Security Engineering: Building Identity Management for a Government Agency

Kalle Rindell (Informaatioteknologian laitos, University of Turku, Turku, Finland), Sami Hyrynsalmi (Tampere University of Technology, Pori, Finland) and Ville Leppänen (Informaatioteknologian laitos, University of Turku, Turku, Finland)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/IJSSE.2017010103

Abstract

Security concerns are increasingly guiding both the design and processes of software-intensive product development. In certain environments, the development of the product requires special security arrangements for development processes, product release, maintenance and hosting, and specific security-oriented processes and governance. Integrating the security engineering processes into agile development methods can have the effect of mitigating the agile methods' intended benefits. This article describes a case of a large ICT service provider building a secure identity management system for a sizable government agency. The project was a subject to strict security regulations due to the end product's critical role. The project was a multi-team, multi-site, standard-regulated security engineering and development work executed following the Scrum framework. The study reports the difficulties in combining security engineering with agile development, provides propositions to enhance Scrum for security engineering activities. Also, an evaluation of the effects of the security work on project cost presented.
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1. Introduction

Security regulations are an important driver in various aspects of software development and information systems and services. Even in the cases when formal security standards or guidelines are not strictly required, the drive for security still guides the selection of design patterns and technological components, as well as the design and development work. Increasing diversity in development methods, technology, and the environments where the systems are used, have prompted organizations to follow various security standards, as well as created the need to establish new ones to guarantee adequate security assurance. In 2001, the government of Finland begun to issue a set of security regulations, called VAHTI instructions1. Compliance with the instructions is now mandatory for all government agencies, and the regulation is also applied to any information system and data connected to a VAHTI-classified system.

While the importance and use of security regulations has increased, the use of lightweight software development processes and methods, i.e., agile development, has become the de facto standard in the industry (VersionOne, 2016). While there exists a series of suggested methods how to conduct security engineering activities in an agile project (see e.g. Alnatheer, Gravel & Argles, 2010; Baca & Carlsson, 2011; Beznosov & Kruchten, 2004; Fitzgerald, Stol & Sullivan, 2013; Ge, Paige, Polack & Brooke, 2007; Pietikäinen & Röning, 2014; Rindell, Hyrynsalmi & Leppänen, 2015), the empiric evidence is still largely anecdotal and the cases reported specific to an industry or a single company. The study reported in this paper is exploratory, and thus the research, by its nature, explorative. This study reports the experiences in agile development in a security regulated environment. The research objective (RO) is:

  • RO: Identify best practices as well as hindrances of using agile software development methodologies in security engineering.

The results contribute to the on-going discussion by being a result of a deep analysis of combining security engineering with an agile method in an industry setting. Furthermore, the result of this study pave the way for further work deepening our understanding on the benefits and drawbacks of using agile software development methodologies in security sensitive development work.

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