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how do you know when you're done testing security?

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Howdy, folks. It's me again. I'm no longer working for the wonderful folks at Software Test & Performance magazine (I'm still friends with all of them). I had to drop all but one of my freelance gigs when I took a job at Digital Media Online (www.digitalmedianet.com), where I'm rolling out a new IT business site. IT Business Net isn't live quite yet, but they assure me it's "soon." (I carefully counted the "O"s; long ago, a Borland PR person advised me that delivery schedules could be measured by scheduling three months for each "O." If a developer tells me that software will be done "soooooon," I know we're in trouble.)

Anyhow, the new site DOES have a software development section, which includes the topic of QA. So I can occasionally wander back here to hang out with all you folks... which, I assure you, is something I appreciate. Especially since I get to pick my own topics now... bwa ha ha! ::evil cackle:: I shall endeavor to use this power for good, and not for evil.

Here's what I'm contemplating for an article I'll write: how does a Java programmer or QA tester doing security testing know when she's _done_?

With functional testing, you have a product spec that enumerates what the app should do. If the app does that, you're done. With performance testing, you set metrics for acceptable speed (or whatever); when the app matches those, you can dust your hands off and go out for a beer. (Please invite me. I like good beer.) But with security testing, you only know about the holes you plugged. Anybody who really REALLY wants to get in will put more energy into the break-in than you can into testing for vulnerabilities.

So, how do you define your suite of security tests to know that the job is done, and that you can go out for that beer?

Is that the hardest question with security testing? If not, what's the biggest challenge you face?

Please let me know if I can quote you (or, almost more importantly, if I cannot); and let me know how to refer to you in the article. Ideally, it'd be "Esther Schindler, a QA Tester at the Groovy Corporation in Scottsdale, Arizona" but it's okay with me to say "Esther, a QA tester in Arizona" if you prefer to stay semi-anonymous.

I'd like to get this article written by the end of the week, so blurt out your answer now!

Esther Schindler
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FYI, the article based on this is now live:

When Do You Quit Security Testing and Ship the App?
Are we done yet? No. Of course not.

No QA testing is ever done, just abandoned. But when do you dust off your hands and ship the application to customers and clients?

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