Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Putting the brakes on software rollout

The New York Times reports that the latest hitch in getting the 787 "Dreamliner" out the door is validation of the software that runs the brakes. The general manager for the 787 program is quoted as saying ”It’s not that the brakes don’t work, it’s the traceability of the software,” and notes that the subcontractor had to "go back and rewrite certain parts of the brake control software to verify it for the certification process".

This is a good thing for two reasons:

(1) They're really paying attention to the software in the verification process, and not just rubber stamping it. That's something that the safety community has always done much more effectively than the security community.

(2) Because this is showing up in the popular press, perhaps we'll get people to ask "if they go to that much trouble for brake systems, why don't they go to that much trouble for voting systems". We know that if any modern voting system underwent the level of scrutiny as the 787 brakes, we'd have much more trustworthy elections.


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