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Work-in-Progress: Enabling Secure Programming in C++ & Java through Practice Oriented Modules

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

Electrical and Computer Engineering Division Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Jacob Tietz Purdue University Northwest

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Graduated from Purdue University Northwest with a Bachelors in Computer Engineering.

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Quamar Niyaz Purdue University Northwest

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Quamar Niyaz received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in computer science and engineering from Aligarh Muslim University, in 2009 and 2013, respectively, and the Ph.D. degree from The University of Toledo, in 2017. He has been an Assistant Professor in computer engineering with the ECE Department, Purdue University Northwest, since 2017. He has published papers in the areas of computer and networks security, applied machine learning, and cybersecurity education. His research has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

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Ahmad Javaid The University of Toledo

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Ahmad Y. Javaid received his B.Tech. (Hons.) Degree in Computer Engineering from Aligarh Muslim University, India in 2008. He received his Ph.D. degree from The University of Toledo in 2015 along with the prestigious University Fellowship Award. Previously, he worked for two years as a Scientist Fellow in the Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India. He joined the EECS Department as an Assistant Professor in Fall 2015 and is the founding director of the Paul A. Hotmer Cybersecurity and Teaming Research (CSTAR) lab. Currently, he is an Associate Professor in the same department. His research expertise focuses on application of computational intelligence to various computing domains including but not limited to education, cybersecurity, healthcare, human-machine teaming, and digital forensics. His projects have been funded by various agencies including the NSF (National Science Foundation), AFRL (Air Force Research Lab), NASA-JPL, Department of Energy, and the State of Ohio.

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Sidike Paheding Michigan Technological University

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Nowadays, cyberattack incidents are happening on a daily basis. As a result, the demand for a larger and more challenging workforce is increasing. To handle this demand, academic institutions offer cybersecurity courses and degree programs into their curricula; however, more efforts are needed to address the high demand of the cybersecurity workforce. This work aims to bridge the gap between workforce shortage and the number of qualified graduates to fill the positions. We approach this by introducing cybersecurity concepts at the early stage of undergraduate curricula of computer science and engineering programs. Secure programming is critical as many cybersecurity incidents happen due to software vulnerabilities. However, most UG-level programming courses pay little attention to secure programming practices. As a result, many students graduate with limited knowledge of security vulnerabilities that might plague the developed software. Our goal in this work is to introduce secure programming at introductory level programming courses so that students should be aware of cybersecurity issues and use this security mindset in advanced level courses and projects in their degree programs. To accomplish this goal, we developed intuitive and interactive modules emphasizing secure programming in C++ and Java courses to help students become secure software developers. These modules will be used alongside the coursework to emphasize certain vulnerabilities within the programming environment of a specific language and allow students to learn cybersecurity topics, enforcing a solid foundation and understanding. We developed cybersecurity educational modules for C++ and Java as they are amongst the popular languages and used in introductory programming courses. While designing these modules, we kept in mind that the topics must be relevant to real-world issues in the software industry. We used a variety of resources and benchmarks to ensure the authenticity of our chosen topics, including Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) and Common Vulnerability and Exposures (CVE). While choosing module topics to develop, we had some restrictions. For example, the topics must be introductory and easy to understand. These modules are geared towards freshman or sophomore-level UG students who have just started programming. The developed security modules have four components: power-point slides, lab description, code template for the lab, and complete solution. The complete solution for each module will be provided to the instructors to check students’ work if they adopt the modules in their courses. The modules developed for a C++ programming course include labs on input validation, integer overflow, random number generation, function call with incorrect argument type, and dangling pointers. In Java, we developed lab modules for input validation, integer overflow, null object reference, random number generator, and data encapsulation.

Tietz, J., & Niyaz, Q., & Javaid, A., & Paheding, S. (2022, August), Work-in-Progress: Enabling Secure Programming in C++ & Java through Practice Oriented Modules Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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