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CISA Building a Safer Digital Future

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Coding empowers programmers to create within the digital domain. In today’s interconnected society, software is the foundational framework that can profoundly affect lives, from minor disruptions to potentially life-threatening situations. The methodologies and instruments employed in developing digital projects carry substantial importance. Consequently, it becomes imperative to reassess practices and methodologies in software development.

Like the stringent requirements for constructing physical structures using high-quality materials and optimal designs to ensure safety, the digital realm demands an equally strong commitment to quality and excellence. It’s worth noting that, unlike the physical world, where certifications and building codes play a crucial role in upholding construction integrity, the coding sphere lacks such robust safeguards.

The C and C++ are popular programming languages due to their speed and widespread use. However, their age and vulnerabilities have made them attractive to cybercriminals. Memory-unsafe code, common in these languages, is a significant security risk. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is leading the “Secure by Design” effort to enhance cybersecurity by integrating it into technology product design. Transitioning to memory-safe languages can reduce vulnerabilities and improve security.

Addressing the supply and demand for secure coding skills presents a unique challenge. Addressing the supply and demand for secure coding skills poses a distinctive challenge. Focusing on the demand side, close collaboration with tech companies becomes pivotal in championing the adoption of Secure by Design principles and the commitment to specific standards.

This partnership entails working closely with these companies to establish roadmaps for transitioning their codebases towards memory safety, ultimately reshaping the demand landscape for programmers skilled in security and proficient in memory-safe languages.

On the supply side, the focus is on expanding digital skills across a more diverse population to encourage wider participation in the field. Concurrently, recognising the significance of integrating security concepts into computer science and coding education is crucial.

Efforts are underway to reshape instructional and learning pathways within academic and self-taught coding communities. Notably, participation in the National Cybersecurity Education Colloquium on September 20th is planned, aiming to collaborate with the Cybersecurity Centres of Academic Excellence (CAE) community to integrate Secure by Design principles into CAE requirements.

On this opportunity, coding institutions are encouraged to develop strategies for seamlessly integrating security concepts and memory-safe programming languages into their educational curricula. This proactive approach ensures that future generations of programmers are well-prepared to address the intricate challenges of secure coding with proficiency and confidence.

These institutions should adapt and refine their instructional frameworks in response to the ever-evolving digital technology landscape and the increasing cybersecurity threats. Students can acquire the essential knowledge and skills required to fortify software systems against potential vulnerabilities and threats by infusing security principles into coding education.

To navigate this uncharted territory, it is crucial that developers collectively define and implement coding best practices and principles. This conscious effort will serve as a virtual guardrail, reinforcing the dependability and security of digital solutions. By embarking on this journey to establish digital “building codes,” the reliability and robustness of creations can be ensured, bridging the gap left by the absence of formal regulations in coding.

“We emphasise the significance of this initiative and call upon coding institutions to embrace these changes wholeheartedly. By doing so, we empower the next generation of programmers to navigate the complex terrain of secure coding confidently, ensuring a safer digital future for all,” said Jen Easterly, the director of CISA.


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