Wednesday, September 26, 2007

How much is enough testing?

Amazing article! Today hacker Robert Moore spoke up about how he pulled off his crimes (hacking into tons of VOIP serves and reselling communications services). His way in? So simple - he just used the default password for common communications devices (Cisco routers, etc.). Once in, he took control and routed traffic as he desired. URL:;jsessionid=WIARC3KZRXVXQQSNDLRCKHSCJUNN2JVN?articleID=202101781&pgno=2&queryText

This blog isn't about the hack. It's elegant, but in the end common petty thievery and nothing worth a bit of praise. This blog is about the quote from page two:
"Kenneth van Wyk, principal consultant with KRvW Associates, said leaving default passwords up is a widespread and dangerous problem. "It's a huge problem, but it's a problem
the IT industry has known about for at least two decades and we haven't made
much progress in fixing it," said van Wyk. "People focus on functionality when they're setting up a system. Does the thing work? Yes. Fine, move on. They don't spend the time doing the housework and cleaning things up." "

How many times have I been told in the past year "Just run through the test cases" and "just test the positive cases"? I was literally told by one employer (not my current) that SQL injection and other user-security cases were unimportant. This was from an employer going through multiple rounds of lay-offs and terrible morale.

Testing is about proving things work but it is about so much more. If a web page is served up, does it mean it 'works'? What if it takes 3 minutes to serve up the page? Is it OK then? If I can update information about an entry in my database, but I'm not monitoring for errors, can I say it works? What if, each time an update is sent, the update is 'written' but an error is thrown? If all I'm looking for is a row with the updated information, and I'm not running a negative test case to ensure the old information is gone, can I say it worked?

Now that the recruiting series is behind me, I'm going to spend some time investigating this concept. When is testing REALLY finished? (And I mean that as the verb 'testing', not the noun "Testing".)

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