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Developers are being invited to comment on a new draft for tests in writing secure code in Java.

The exam framework, backed by the Secure Programming Council, a consortium of corporates pulled together by the SANS Institute, is designed to be a test of essential programming skills.

Topics covered include encryption, data handling, authentication, architecture, and session management. "These exams can be used inhouse to find gaps in programmer skills, and for assessing job candidates, consultants, and outsourcing organisations," the SANS Institute explains.

For example, in the data handling category, programmers are expected to understand Cross-site Scripting (XSS) and SQL Injection attacks. Sorting out problems at source is far easier, and effective, than bolting on security as an afterthought. The Secure Programming Council's efforts to bolster security awareness and practice among programmers is therefore welcome.

The draft standard is the first in a planned series that the Secure Programming Council hopes will go on to cover a range of programming languages including C++, .Net, Perl, and PHP.

Comments on the Essential Skills for Secure Programmers Using Java course are open until 1 December, with the first tests due to take place in early December in London and Washington before other exams throughout Europe and the US over the next eight months. ®

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