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For instance, I was making my first mobile web-application about a year ago, and half-way through, someone pointed me to jQuery Mobile. Obviously this induced a total revolution in my app. Rewrote everything. Now, if you're in the field long enough, maybe that seems like common knowledge, but I was totally new to it.

But this set me wondering: there are so many libraries and extensions and frameworks. This seems particularly crucial in the category of security. I'm afraid I'm going to find myself doing something in a professional setting eventually (I'm still a student) and someone's going to walk over and be like, My god, you're trying to secure user data that way? Don't you know about the Gordon-Wokker crypto-magic-hash-algorithms library? Without it you may as well go plaintext.

How do you know what the best ways are to maximize security?

Especially if you're trying to develop something on your own...

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I wish I got a penny for every website that sends me my password in plaintext. I am a layman when it comes to security but this trips me up every time it happens (and it still happens a lot) –  Lieven Keersmaekers Sep 11 '12 at 5:56
@Lieven - happened to me twice in the past two days. Madness. –  simonlchilds Sep 11 '12 at 16:14

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The key is to understand the concepts behind how these systems work. There's no way you can get anywhere just by remembering libraries, frameworks or APIs which suit "some needs". You need to understand what the needs are. This means that you need to learn about computer security, so you can reason about various methods of keeping computers secure as well as various methods of breaking that security! Otherwise, you can't reason and as such you rely on others to do the reasoning for you.

Sure, that sounds rough. It'd be catastrophic if every single software developer also had to become semi-professional at computer security to be useful. Luckily, it's not so. However, I'd strongly encourage everyone to have some interest towards these things, look them up. Study them. Learn about them. That's the only way you can keep up with the field. You need to devote your own time to this stuff. Hobbyism, that's the key.

As it's probably clear by now, there's no single answer to the question. There's lots of information about security online, go dig! There's also the IT Security SE site which can come in handy with questions related to computer security.

Remember, being an IT professional is all about keeping up! Don't know something? Either you learn on your own or die(in metaphorical sense!).

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