SANS research director Alan Paller has criticised educational institutions for a lack of focus on security issues. The comments come with the release of SANS top 20 list, which details the most common internet security vulnerabilities.

"It's time to shame the underperforming computer science departments," said Paller. "We're developing a qualification exam in secure programming." The aim of such an exam would be to ensure a higher level of security awareness amid IT staff. "Institutions could score their graduates on an internationally recognised test of safe programming skills," said Paller.

Educational institutions have hit back claiming that the current system is more than adequate. "We're internationally recognised as world leading," said Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at Cambridge. "There has been a lot of activity approaching this sort of accreditation scheme and it is thoroughly misdirected."

Anderson cited vendors as the source of security problems, something Paller had discussed earlier in the conference. "Microsoft should pay for their own mistakes, liability is the problem," Anderson said.

Despite some resistance steps to create an internationally recognised system are "in progress" said Paller.