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Most Notable New Certification

A tip of the hat goes to the folks over at SANS Institute for their new certification, GIAC Secure Software Programmer (GSSP). The certification itself is a solid one, addressing the critical skill area of secure coding practices and identifying developers who know how protect against application vulnerabilities. It is offered in specialties tied to particular languages such as C, Java, PHP, PERL, and others. The sharp way the GSSP fills a marketplace credentialing need is only half of the story; an equally admirable accomplishment is how SANS is going about the testing itself.

Bucking the trend of other certification exams out there, GSSP testing provides a service beyond simple pass/fail reporting, it provides detailed feedback on how the candidate performed on various objectives covered by the test. Each score report identifies individual strengths and weaknesses, reporting on how the candidate scored in each area in relation to the best possible score as well as the average score for each task area. You can view a sample score report on the SANS Web site.

This is a real service and which should be emulated by other certification vendors, putting the emphasis on skills improvement as well as on skill confirmation. Some of the original certification programs used to provide such feedback, if not in as much detail, but this has largely fallen by the wayside due to security concerns and other issues. CompTIA has been one of the few to keep up a version of this over time, and the SANS Institute has brought it back in a big way. Let's hope that other certification vendors will consider doing the same, or even something better.