Universities fail to produce secure programmers

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Further pressure has been put on educational institutions to improve their security training. In the wake of SANS calls to ‘shame the computer science departments’ Simon Perry, vice president of security strategy at Computer Associates raised the issue again at the SC Conference in London, UK.

Talking about a leading European IT university's programming course, Perry claimed: "There was not a single lecture on secure coding. That's a pretty sad indictment of where the security industry stands today".

Despite angry denials that universities are under performing, most notably from Cambridge's Ross Anderson, the suggestion is that learning functional rather than secure code is an endemic problem. "I certainly think so," said Perry. "It's going to be a problem for a few years yet. Most of these courses are three or four years long, and it takes roughly two years to implement something new. So we're not going to see the results for a long time."

A lack of standards, or accountability, was pointed to as the source of the problem. "If you're teaching cookery you are required to spend time teaching health and safety. This sort of requirement does not exist for our industry," Perry said.

Rather than blaming vendors Perry told companies to look inwards. "Departments don't communicate and parallel projects occur. So we don't get the benefit of existing technology," he said.


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