You may not be aware but Canada’s Public Safety department put out a call to Canadian Citizens (sorry brilliant people who are not Canadian), asking for ideas, suggestions and thoughts on what they should prioritize next for the Canadian Government for InfoSec. I WAS SO EXCITED WHEN I SAW THIS AND WROTE THEM IMMEDIATELY. Obviously I made suggestions about AppSec. You have until August 19, 2022 to send your suggestions. The suggestions that I sent are below.
I am responding to calls for suggestions from this link: https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/cnslttns/cnsltng-cnd-pprch-cbr-scrt/index-en.aspx I used to work for the Canadian Public service, and now work in private industry.
- I would like to see the Canadian Public Service and Government of Canada focus on ensuring we are creating secure software for the public to use. I want to see formal application security programs (sometimes called a secure system development life cycle or S-SDLC) at every department. I have extensive training materials on this topic that I would be happy to provide for free to help.
- I would also like to see a government-wide training for all software developers on secure coding, and AppSec training for every person tasked with ensuring the software of their department is secure. When I was in the government (13.5 years), I was never allowed to have security training, because it was too expensive ($7,000 USD for a SANS class was completely out of reach). I was told the government wouldn’t arrange giant classes (say 100 people, splitting the cost of one instructor), because that would be ‘unfair competition with private industry’. You need to fix that, having mostly untrained assets is not a winning strategy. There needs to be a government-wide training initiative to modernize your workforce. (Again, I have free online training that can be accessed here: https://community.wehackpurple.com – join the community (free), then take any courses you want (also free))
- Create security policies that apply to all departments, then socialize them (do workshops, create videos, make sure everyone knows – don’t just post them to the TBS website and hope someone notices on their own). A secure coding guideline. An AppSec program/secure SDLC. Incident response, etc. Each department shouldn’t have to start from scratch each time. Then we could have a standardization of what level of security assurance that we expect from each department. I provide some of these policies in the AppSec foundations level 2 course, which is free in the link above.
- Throw away all the old policies and procedures that are just not working. 90-day password rotation? Gone. SA&A process that takes several weeks to complete but doesn’t actually offer much in the way of actionable advice? Gone. Re-evaluate current process, get rid of the bad ones. We need agile processes, that let people get their work done. I felt like many of the processes that I had to do in the government were in place because of a lack of trust in the staff’s competency. Instead of not trusting the staff, train them, then trust them. If they continue to screw up after training, discipline them and eventually get rid of the bad apples. Most of your staff is GOOD. Some of them are truly amazing. Treat them with trust and many of them will astound you. Remove onerous administration that is there because you don’t trust them, then let them get their jobs done.
If you have any questions I would love to talk. Thank you for putting out an open call, I’m super-impressed!