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Systematizing Security Test Case Planning Using Functional Requirements Phrases

B. Smith, “Systematizing Security Test Case Planning Using Functional Requirements Phrases“, Proceedings of the International Conference on Software Engineering Doctoral Symposium (ICSE Doctoral Symposium), Honolulu, Hawaii, pp. 1136-1137, 2011.


Security experts use their knowledge to attempt attacks on an application in an exploratory and opportunistic way in a process known as penetration testing. However, building security into a product is the responsibility of the whole team, not just the security experts who are often only involved in the final phases of testing.  Through the development of a black box security test plan, software testers who are not necessarily security experts can work proactively with the developers early in the software development lifecycle.  The team can then establish how security will be evaluated such that the product can be designed and implemented with security in mind.  The  goal of this research is to improve the security of applications by introducing a methodology that uses the software system’s requirements specification statements to systematically generate a set of black box security tests.  We used our methodology on a public requirements specification to create 137 tests and executed these tests on five electronic  health record systems. The tests revealed 253 successful attacks on these five systems, which are used to manage the clinical records for approximately 59 million patients, collectively. If non-expert testers can surface the more common vulnerabilities present in an application, security experts can attempt more devious, novel attacks.

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