safety vs security
January 21, 2020

Software Safety vs. Software Security: Understanding the Difference

Security & Compliance
Static Analysis

Safe software depends on tight security that protects it from malicious attacks. Even though code security and safety are often used interchangeably there are differences between the two. What does safety have to do with security anyway? Once we differentiate safety and security, we will discuss one key to keeping software safe and secure — coding standards. 

Software Safety vs. Software Security 

There is a difference between safety and security. Code security is about preventing unwanted or illegal activity in the software we build and use. It helps ensure our systems are secure during an attack and keeps unwanted intruders out. 

Code safety, on the other hand, is a broader term used to indicate whether software is reliable and safe to use. That’s why the MISRA coding standard was first developed — to provide a safe experience for drivers relying on complex vehicle software on the road. 

In other words, code security is a means to achieve safety. This isn’t just semantics — it’s a crucial mission for security professionals out there needing to balance integrity, availability, and reliability in order to deliver safe software. 

But, how is it possible to keep up with the hundreds of requirements in MISRA or ISO 26262 — especially when development teams lack the in-depth knowledge of complex coding standards? 

Standards Drive Safety 

Today, MISRA is one of the most established coding standards. It was first developed in 1998 for the automobile industry as a set of C/C++ guidelines used to keep vehicles safe on the road. Since then, MISRA has become the major software standard for several high-profile industries such as railway, healthcare, defense, telecom, IoT, and aerospace. 

Safety is mission-critical to these industries. For years, MISRA coding guidelines have helped developers keep high-reliability systems like these safe. Now, updated MISRA guidelines released in 2012 (MISRA C:2012 Amendment 1) officially acknowledge how coding security affects safety. The new guidelines help identify and avoid common security vulnerabilities in software systems. 

While it isn’t foolproof security, coding standards help ensure code is portable, robust, and easy to maintain. For this reason, compliance with MISRA guidelines has become synonymous with not only a trustworthy product but a safe one too.  

Code safety and security are crucial for industries that depend on high-reliability software found everywhere from cars to spaceships.  

Coding standards, like MISRA, help ensure code architecture is rock solid at every stage of development. Secure code ensures crucial safety of software systems that people rely on every day. 

Ensure Software Safety and Software Security 

In the new guidelines, MISRA recommends using static code analysis tools to ensure the highest degree of compliance with their standards. Compliance checking tools can flag everything from critical security loopholes to small deviations from best practice. Having one tool to check hundreds of different measures at once helps ensure you’re aware of each tiny misstep from the gold standard. 

At each stage of development, static testing tools allow developers to confidently incorporate critical security and safety requirements into their code. Industry-leading checkers and reports can help software companies achieve the safety and security they need, without training developers and creating new tests from scratch. 

Software that can perform these critical checks for your team ultimately leads to easier, more secure, and safer software. Without the line-by-line manual checking, you’d need to do for countless measures, you can rely on automated tools that consistently ensure your code is MISRA-compliant. It’s a safer way to secure your software. 

Secure Code is Safer Code

Whether it’s during the build, as part of Continuous Integration systems, or even ad hoc spot checks, compliance checking tools help you write top-notch (and compliant) code all the time.  

More than ever, organizations must proactively protect their code, products, and brands from security vulnerabilities. With Klocwork static code analysis, you can automate the detection of hundreds of security vulnerabilities in source code.

Klocwork is one of the most accurate code analyzers for C, C++, C#, and Java programming languages. It’s a modern, Agile static code analyzer that scales to projects of any size and works effectively within the DevOps cycle. What’s more, it’s certified for functional safety compliance by TÜV-SÜD, including IEC 61508, ISO 26262, and EN 50128.  

If you’d like to apply a consistent, efficient approach to identifying and remediating real security vulnerabilities across your organization take Klocwork for a spin. 

 ensure software safety and security with Klocwork


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