There is a growing consensus concerning the importance of software development. Formerly seen as the province of only a relatively small number of tech companies, many now realize that software development is a critical area for countless organizations in every field. This is due to a variety of new trends, with one key example being the rise of big data. Big data has the potential to yield unparalleled insight on an almost limitless scale, but such results are only possible when firms have access to complementary analytics software solutions.
The federal government recognizes this state of affairs and recently took action to address the issue. As the E-Commerce Times reported, the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has initiated the Mining and Understanding Software Enclaves (MUSE) program, designed to encourage innovation and advancement in the field of software development. In particular, the initiative will focus on improving the quality of software security.
In a statement announcing the launch of the project, DARPA emphasized the need for a renewed focus on cybersecurity and error prevention in the software development field.
"As computing devices become more pervasive in our daily lives, the software systems that control them have become increasingly more complex and sophisticated. Consequently, despite the tremendous resources devoted to making software more robust and resilient, ensuring that programs are correct, especially at scale, remains a difficult and challenging endeavor," the statement explained, according to the E-Commerce Times. "Unfortunately, in spite of developers' best efforts, software errors are at the root of most execution errors and security vulnerabilities."
According to the news source, the MUSE program aims to encourage significant, revolutionary advances in terms of software development security, rather than moderate, evolutionary progress. To this end, the program will combine information and tactics from a wide range of sources into a single resource.
"The goal is to develop a mechanism that can effectively leverage the collective wisdom of a large corpus of software to eliminate defects in existing software or automatically create – or synthesize – new software based on a desired behavior," said Suresh Jagannathan, program manager for DARPA, the E-Commerce Times reported. "It does this by constantly mining a continuously evolving corpus or database of program facts and behaviors."
Jagannathan went on to explain that many of today's software developers operate under inaccurate assumptions, largely due to a lack of reliable standards. Furthermore, without widely tested policies and concepts, these personnel essentially have no choice but to depend upon trial and error when compiling code. By creating a centralized repository of software development knowledge, the MUSE initiative will theoretically reduce the need for developers to rely on such assumptions and limit the number of mistakes made when writing new programs and applications.
However, it is important to note that the just-launched MUSE program will be unlikely to yield significant results in the near future, as such a wide-scale project will inevitably require a great deal of time. Organizations operating today must look to alternative solutions to ensure their software development efforts are secure.
To this end, firms must embrace the tools that enable high-quality software security and reliability. For example, static analysis solutions allow developers to discover and mitigate coding errors and vulnerabilities early on, before they evolve into serious issues. These tools can be embedded into the programs in question, offering ongoing threat detection. Such measures are essential for firms eager to leverage software development without putting their organizations at risk.