Another lurker revealing himself ... my name is Matt Bishop, and I lurk at the University of California at Davis where I teach and do research in lots of areas of computer security, including (surprise!) what is traditionally called "secure programming" and "secure software development". For what it's worth, I don't like the use of the term "secure" because it's too vague -- I'd prefer "robust" or something related to assurance, but I can't come up with a short term. Oh, well.

I've been working with "secure coding" for many years. I'm particularly interested in the interaction between coding and policy, and also in how to teach this stuff. I've done some training (long ago, with SANS), but now I focus on college/university education (for the most part).

I get lots of good examples and ideas from this list, and sometimes the postings challenge me to think about different perspectives. In particular, the discussions of how people use these techniques, and the ones people find the most pernicious and troubling, help me give realistic examples when I teach students how to write good code. So Ken, thank you for starting and maintaining this list -- I think you've done the community a great service.

A thought about Rob Floodeen's comment:

2.  How to incorporate the concept of secure coding and new
techniques/tools to do so.  This should be a minor objective through
our academic curriculum as well.  Just like advanced math skills, we
should have advanced secure coding skills for Software Engineers.

My own feeling is that this should be a basic skill for people who program, not just software engineers. But the level at which practitioners (for want of a better term) need to know this varies depending on what they do. An occasional programmer (a physicist, for example) probably doesn't need to know about race conditions and, indeed, about security in general -- but she would need to know how to write a program that checks its input (lest the results be invalid -- GIGO), which is "security" from her point of view. A software engineer darn well better know about race conditions, though!

So I agree with what Rob posted, and I did have one thought. Is writing good English a "minor" objective of an English major? Probably, in the sense English curricula focus on interpretation of literature, literary criticism, and other aspects of literature. But it's an essential one. So perhaps "incidental and important" describes how I feel better than "minor".


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