Why Do Programmers Do What They Do? A Theory of Influences on Security Practices

Lavanya Sajwan, James Noble, Craig Anslow (Victoria University of Wellington), Robert Biddle (Carleton University)

Technologies are continually adapting to match ever-changing trends. As this occurs, new vulnerabilities are exploited by malicious attackers and can cause significant economic damage to companies. Programmers must continually expand their knowledge and skills to protect software. Programmers make mistakes, and this is why we must interpret how they implement and adopt security practices. This paper reports on a study to understand programmer adoption of security practices. We identified a theory of inter-related influences involving programmer culture, organizational factors, and industry trends. Understanding these decisions can help inform organizational culture and education to improve software security.