Some “Secure Programming” Exercises for an Introductory Programming Class
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Ideally, computer security should be an integral part of all programming courses. Beginning programming classes pose a particular challenge, because the students are learning basic concepts of programming. Thus, teaching them about buffer overflows as security problems, requiring an explanation of concepts such as “smashing the stack,” will confuse students more than motivate them to check array bounds. Advanced concepts such as race conditions require more background than the students have, or will have, when taking introductory programming classes. An alternate approach is to teach the underlying concepts of robust programming; preventing crashes or errors is central to such a course. This paper presents some exercises that illustrate this approach, and some thoughts on what constitutes “secure programming”.