Security experts name top 25 programming screw-ups

Led by SANS and the NSA, an industry group has published a list of the 25 most dangerous software programming errors.

A group of more than 30 computer organizations has taken what some are calling a big step toward making software more secure.

Led by experts from the U.S. National Security Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, Microsoft and Symantec, the group published on Monday a blueprint outlining the most dangerous software programming errors.

The list represents the first time the industry has reached consensus on the worst things that can happen when software is being written.

"The top 25 list gives developers a minimum set of coding errors that must be eradicated before software is used by customers," said Chris Wysopal, chief technology officer with Veracode, in a prepared statement.

More than just a list, however, the document could be used as a negotiating tool between buyers and software vendors, said Alan Paller, director of research with the SANS Institute, a security training group that spearheaded the work.

In fact, New York state is now developing procurement documents that could be used by state agencies to make their vendors certify that their code contains none of these programming errors. Ultimately that will make the vendor, not the state, responsible when buggy software leads to a security problem, Paller said. "When the software is found to be flawed ... all of the economic liability shifts to them."

Paller expects that this kind of certification, virtually unknown today, will become more common now that such a large part of the industry has agreed on what programming errors are most dangerous. But he expects it to be used in large custom-coding contracts rather than in the software licensing agreements used for widely distributed software such as Microsoft Windows.

The flaws include things such as allowing for SQL injection or cross-site scripting attacks, sending sensitive information in clear text, which can be easily read, and hard-coding security passwords into programs, where they're hard to change if discovered. The list of errors can be found here.

Two of these bugs led to more than 1.5 million Web site breaches last year, SANS said. And that was just the start: Often, these Web breaches were used by online attackers to then launch more attacks against people who surfed the hacked sites.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags programming

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?