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I submit that your submissions over the past weeks have driven me into submission. The quality of contributions and self-control exhibited by contributors has dropped off radically. Various complaints have been received recently that I have suddenly become far too generous in including too much irrelevant, unsound, incoherent, and otherwise marginal material. Well, I currently have a HUGE backlog of messages for consideration — 30 in the last four days — but all are mostly minor variants of previous contributions, and many of them will not emerge. (Perhaps the recent deluge is merely a summertime phenomenon?) Well, due to my own heavily overloaded schedule, RISKS will slow down for the next two weeks, when I will be limited to a few short shots at NETland. But please keep on submitting the GOOD stuff — I'll get to it eventually. And please excuse the slowdown. By the way, I erred in including the MITRE notice in RISKS-5.28. Please don't expect me to do it again. The responses to Denning/Saltzer/Hardie are running about three-to-one for nonsecrecy about security flaws, with all sorts of caveats, hedges, special cases, etc. Logic tells you that you'd better know when — and how — YOU are vulnerable. The certification issue is not generating much enthusiasm either way. (Perhaps certification is also needed for computer system users who have authorization to do act dangerously or fraudulently.) The legal aspects of screwing up may be a driving force toward certification to protect system developers (or procurers?) if a big liability suit gets won by the injured parties. (The Rogan case that follows is small potatoes. By the way, Donn Parker notes that the Equity Fund case, with direct losses of $200 million, is actually estimated at $2 billion total losses if indirect costs such as stockholder losses are included.) The standards issue for system safety is warming up again, but is also not likely go generate too much enthusiasm. (If you care, see the concluding item in this issue. It also implies all sorts of risks.)
[Also submitted by Frederick Bingham] Excerpted from the Los Angeles Times, Aug. 13, 1987: COMPUTER SNAFU RULED A RIGHTS VIOLATION Wrong Man Repeatedly Detained on Murder, Robbery Charges By Jack Jones The Los Angeles Police Department violated the constitutional rights of a Michigan man by continuing to list him in a nationwide crime information computer system as wanted for murder and robbery, even after it was clear the real suspect was using his name, U.S. District Judge Robert Kelleher has concluded. Terry Dean Rogan, 29, will now go to Los Angeles Federal Court to seek monetary damages .... Kelleher found that [the two] Los Angeles Police Detectives... do not share liability with the city, even though on several occasions they re-entered Rogan's name in the National Crime Information Center system and failed to add new descriptive information that would have established Rogan as the wrong man. The city failed, Kelleher ruled, to properly train and supervise the officers in the constitutional protection aspects of using the crime center system and the necessity of adding more accurate information when it becomes available. The actual suspect, Alabama state prison escapee Bernard McKandes,... began passing himself off as Rogan in 1981.... Rogan ... was first arrested in October, 1982.... He was held in jail until a fingerprint check showed he was not the man being sought. Nevertheless, ... Los Angeles detectives put his name back into the computer, neglecting to add qualifying information, and he was arrested four more times — mostly after routine traffic stops. On two occasions, he was taken into custody at gunpoint, handcuffed and jailed. It was not until early 1984 that Rogan's name was removed from the computer system — after a Saginaw News reporter told [one of the L.A. detectives] that McKandes ... was back in prison in Alabama. McKandes... subsequently was convicted of the California murder and robbery charges. [See ACM Software Engineering Notes 10 3 (July 1985) for some further background. PGN]
The June issue of the British magazine Modern Railways carried this item: 'UNAUTHORISED TESTS' CAUSED DLR CRASH The Managing Director of Docklands Light Railway Limited, Cliff Bonnett, has said the accident which occurred at Island Gardens station on 10 March (Modern Railways, May) was primarily caused by unauthorised tests, carried out before required modifications had been carried out at the southern terminus. The train, which ended up overhanging from the elevated track after crashing through buffers, would have been 'arrested' if the protection system 'in its full and modified form' had been installed. The train was being driven manually. Incidentally, on the same page of the magazine is this: DOT MATRIX PROBLEMS A marked improvement in the performance of the Northern Line's gremlin-infested dot-matrix train indicators is promised by the autumn, but modified software cannot be satisfactorily commissioned for a year, says London Underground, while a new central computer at the line's Coburg Street, Euston control centre is awaited. Meanwhile, some indicators have lost the minutes-to-train-arrival feature, displaying only the order of train arrival. Mark Brader, Toronto, utzoo!sq!msb
Two weeks ago I taught a 3-day continuing education class on software safety at UCLA. The makeup of the class says some interesting things about the awareness of software safety issues in the U.S. I was pleasantly surprised to have 40 people enrolled (the average class size of software engineering classes there is about 25). Half the class was from outside California which means their management was willing to invest money in sending people across the country to take the class (implying some awareness and commitment to the problem — the class itself also was not cheap). It was also interesting to note that although the majority of people came from the aerospace industry (including someone from Morton Thiokol), there were 3 medical device manufacturers (all said that their attendance was directly related to the Therac 25 incident — these accidents that you read about in risks do have an effect, especially when lawsuits and media publicity are involved); 2 commercial aircraft manufacturers and a manufacturer of aircraft engines; the Air Force, Army, and Navy; a couple of firms that do safety analysis on a contract basis; and one in entertainment (Walt Disney). Many in the class identified themselves as safety engineers [see the following message], but there were also software engineers and a fair number of people who identified themselves as "software safety engineers" or "software system safety engineers." I was especially curious about the software safety engineers and asked a few questions. All but one had previously been system safety engineers and had acquired this title within the past few months. One had been a software engineer previously and had become a "software safety engineer" very recently. Nancy Leveson [Now I know where all the mickey-mouse computer systems are coming from. PGN]
[This item may be boring to some of you, and important to others. It is included for the record. Comments To: nancy@ics.UCI.EDU, Cc:RISKS. PGN] A new change notice to a system safety standard (MIL-STD-882B: System Safety Program Requirements) has just been released (July 1, 1987). The surprise is the amount of reference to software contained in it and the new tasks on software safety included. The following are some excerpts (there is lots missing). I am sending more information to Peter Neumann for inclusion in the next issue of SEN. I am curious about how most system safety engineers, who are untrained in software engineering, will be able to accomplish these tasks. Since in most cases they will not, I would guess that many of these requirements will be passed along to the software engineers to actually perform. The tasks could potentially also have other impacts on software engineers working on safety-critical projects. Those of you in the aerospace industry should be aware of what is about to hit you and others may find other government agencies following suit. TASK 202 - PRELIMINARY HAZARD ANALYSIS [includes] consideration of the potential contribution by software to subsystem/system mishaps, safety design criteria to control safety-critical software commands and responses and appropriate action to incorporate them in the software specifications, and software fail-safe design considerations. TASK 203 - SUBSYSTEM HAZARD ANALYSIS identify all components and equipments, including software, whose performance, performance degradation, functional failure, or inadvertent functioning could result in a hazard or whose design does not satisfy safety requirements. TASK 204 - SYSTEM HAZARD ANALYSIS perform and document a system hazard analysis to identify hazards and assess the risk of the total system design, including software, and specifically of the subsystem interfaces. TASK 204 OPERATING AND SUPPORT HAZARD ANALYSIS requirements to evaluate hazards resulting from the implementation of operations or tasks performed by persons ... Includes identification of changes needed in software to eliminate hazards or reduce their associated risks along with warnings, cautions, and special emergency procedures including those necessitated by failure of a software-controlled operation to produce expected and required safe result or indication. TASK SECTION 300 - SOFTWARE SYSTEM SAFETY [states that] Software System Safety is an integral part of the total System Safety Program. The 300 series of tasks are recommended for programs which involve large or complicated software packages ... TASK 301 - SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS HAZARD ANALYSIS The contractor shall examine systems and software requirements and design in order to identify unsafe modes for resolution, such as out-of-sequence, wrong event, inappropriate magnitude, inadvertent command, adverse environment, deadlocking, failure-to-command modes, etc. ... Software Safety Requirement Tracking ... Analyze Software Requirements Specifications:... assure that the System Safety Requirements are correctly and completely specified, that they have been properly translated into software requirements, and that the software safety requirements will appropriately influence the software design... The contractor shall develop safety-related recommendations, and design and testing requirements and shall incorporate them in the Software Top-Level and Software Detailed Design Documents, and the Software Test Plan. TASK 302 - TOP-LEVEL DESIGN HAZARD ANALYSIS ... analyze the Top-Level Design ... include definition and subsequent analysis of Safety-Critical Computer Software Components (SCCSC), identify the degree of risk involved, and the design and test plan to be implemented ... ensure that all safety requirements are correctly and completely specified in the Top-Level design. ... include analysis of input/output timing, multiple event, out-of-sequence event, failure of event, wrong event, inappropriate magnitude, adverse environmental, deadlocking, hardware sensitivities, etc. TASK 303 - DETAILED DESIGN HAZARD ANALYSIS ...shall analyze the Software Detailed Design ... to verify the correct incorporation of safety requirements and to analyze the safety-critical CSCs ... includes relationships between safety-critical and other designated software at the CSCI, CSC, and lower unit levels (including subroutines, data bases, data files, tables, and variables). It also includes the requirement to include safety-related information in the Software User's Manuals.] ... the contractor shall identify safety-critical computer software units to the code developers, and provide them with explicit safety-related coding recommendations and safety requirements from the top-level specifications and design documents. TASK 304 - CODE-LEVEL SOFTWARE HAZARD ANALYSIS The contractor shall analyze program code and system interfaces for events, faults, and conditions which could cause or contribute to undesired events affecting safety... Analyze (1) safety-critical CSCs for correctness and completeness, and for input/output timing, multiple event, out-of-sequence event, failure of event, adverse environment, deadlocking, wrong event, inappropriate magnitude, hardware failure sensitivities, etc. ... (4) proper error default handling for ... inappropriate or unexpected data in the input data stream, (5) fail-safe and fail-soft modes, (6) input overload or out-of-bound conditions. TASK 305 SOFTWARE SAFETY TESTING The contractor shall test the software to ensure that all hazards have been eliminated or controlled to an acceptable level of risk. Implementation of safety requirements (inhibits, traps, interlocks, assertions, etc.) shall be verified. The contractor shall verify that the software functions safely both within its specified environment, and under abnormal conditions. TASK 306 - SOFTWARE/USER INTERFACE ANALYSIS ... TASK 307 - SOFTWARE CHANGE HAZARD ANALYSIS The contractor shall analyze all changes, modifications, and patches made to the software for safety hazards, to include the following: All changes to specifications, requirements, design, code, systems, equipment, and test plans, descriptions, procedures, cases, or criteria shall be subjected to software hazard analysis and testing, unless it can be shown to be unnecessary due to the nature of the change... the contractor shall show that the change or patch does not create a hazard, does not impact on a hazard that has previously been resolved, does not make a currently existing hazard more severe, and does not adversely affect any safety-critical computer software component or related and interfacing code... The contractor shall review the affected documentation, and ensure that it correctly reflects all safety-related changes made.
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