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White House urges tech companies to adopt secure program languages

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The Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD) at the White House is advocating for major players in the tech industry to adopt more secure programming languages to enhance cybersecurity.

This recommendation was published in a recent report titled “Back to the Building Blocks: A Path Toward Secure and Measurable Software.”

The ONCD emphasized that one way to reduce vulnerabilities related to memory safety is to focus on securing the fundamental building blocks of cyberspace, such as programming languages. The adoption of memory-safe programming languages can significantly reduce memory-related errors.

What is the Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD)?

The ONCD serves as an advisory body to the President of the United States on cybersecurity policy and strategy, addressing concerns within the cybersecurity realm. It collaborates with various government departments, private sector entities, and international partners to streamline federal cybersecurity policy.

Addressing the complexity of eliminating entire categories of software vulnerabilities, the report mentioned, “This endeavor necessitates a coordinated effort involving government initiatives, private sector innovations, and groundbreaking academic research. By working collaboratively to proactively address software vulnerabilities, the onus is taken off those less prepared to handle it, empowering frontline cybersecurity experts to anticipate threats. Establishing a standard of high-quality cybersecurity fosters a restructured incentive system and instills confidence in the potential of cyberspace.”

The decision made by the Biden-Harris Administration to prioritize cybersecurity concerns alongside technological advancements has garnered praise from industry experts.

The ONCD shared the overwhelming support from academia and the private sector regarding the White House’s direction through an official post:

Fidelma Russo, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Hybrid Cloud and Chief Technology Officer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise commended Director Coker and the Administration, calling the initiative a significant step in response to the evolving cybersecurity landscape. She stated, “Memory-safe computing prevents vulnerabilities before they are exploited by threat actors and will become a new internal standard for cloud-native development at HPE.”

Professor Dan Boneh, a Computer Science expert at Stanford University, praised the White House’s pragmatic approach. He mentioned that beginning the transition to memory-safe languages with critical space systems serves as a solid testing ground for this initiative, emphasizing that preventing memory safety bugs is just the initial phase towards building more secure software.

National Cyber Director Harry Coker emphasized, “As a nation, we have the capability – and the duty – to shrink the attack surface in cyberspace and prevent entire classes of security flaws from infiltrating the digital environment. This demands tackling the challenging task of transitioning to memory-safe programming languages.”

Featured image: Pexels

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