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7 Steps to Build a Compliance-Focused Secure Coding Training Program

7 Steps to Build a Compliance-Focused Secure Coding Training Program

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Navigating the world of application security can be complex and challenging. That’s why we have gathered some key insights from our customers and experts at Security Journey to create a guide to help you get started with your secure coding training program.  

This article will walk through the seven steps you need to know to build a compliance-focused, secure coding training program at your organization. 

Please note that every organization is different, and you can adapt these recommendations to meet your specific needs. 

Download Seven Steps to an Ideal Secure Coding Training Program for more detailed information. 


Step 1: Planning Your Program 

When planning an application security training program for your organization, it's essential to understand your overarching goal clearly. This may include meeting regulatory compliance standards like PCI-DSS, OWASP, White House Executive Order, or other relevant regulations.  

Read The Blog: Is Regulation the Consequence of Complacency in Securing Code? 

An example of a specific goal would be:  

By the end of Q3, all developers will complete a secure coding training program aligned with the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. This training will increase their proficiency in secure coding practices across all five NIST CSF functions as measured by a 20% improvement in post-training assessment scores. 

By focusing on one or two specific goals, you can more easily track key performance indicators and accurately measure the success of your program. 


Step 2: Pulling Baseline Data 

After you have your goals in place, it’s time to gather data on how your program will impact your application security.  

Key Metrics to Collect: 

  • Percentage Of Developers Completing Compliance Modules 
  • Total Vulnerabilities 
  • Critical and High Vulnerabilities 
  • Compliance-Specific Vulnerability Tickets  
  • Remediation Time on Security Tickets 
  • Assessment Scores 

By tracking these metrics, you can ensure that you are meeting your compliance regulations while you get a better sense of what’s working and what needs improvement and even prove the ROI of your training efforts. 


Step 3: Prioritizing Internal Communications 

Effective internal communication is crucial for the success of any organization. We encourage our customers to explore some ideas for these communications to help you achieve internal buy-in for your new program and keep your learners engaged throughout the training process. 

Here are some ideas to keep your learners up-to-date and engaged in their secure coding training: 

  • Create and Deliver an Executive Presentation to the Leadership Team 
  • Share a Summary of this Presentation at Your Company Town Hall 
  • Announce the Training Program in a Live Discussion with Learners 
  • Program Kick-Off Event 
  • Keep Up with Email and Slack Notifications 


Step 4: Selecting Your Training Content 

We recommend breaking up the assigned content when providing secure coding training to comply with regulations. First, meet compliance requirements, then assign progressive learning content beyond compliance.  

Read What You Need to Know About Security Journey’s Recommended Learning Paths 

Here is an example of how you can build out a multi-year training program that meets compliance requirements and then encourages learners to progress through the learning content continually: 


First Half of the Year 

Second Half of the Year 

Year 1 

Compliance Training Content 

Foundational Language-Specific Training Content 

Year 2 

Compliance Content Refresh 

Intermediate Language-Specific Training Content 

Year 3 

Compliance Content Refresh 

Advanced Language-Specific Training Content 

Year 4 

Compliance Content Refresh 

Training Content on Critical Threats to the Organizations 

Download Seven Steps to an Ideal Secure Coding Training Program for more detailed information. 


Step 5: Incorporating Tournaments 

Secure coding training tournaments provide a gamified approach to application security training for developers. With tournaments, developers compete to solve challenges involving identifying vulnerabilities or writing secure code. 

Program managers should consider running tournaments regularly, at least every six months, to boost learner engagement and to highlight milestones such as launching a new program or reinforcing skills during Cybersecurity Awareness Month. 


Step 6: Security Champions 

To build a robust security culture, identify potential Security Champions within your organization who excel in training, demonstrate a passion for security, and proactively contribute to knowledge sharing.  

Security Champions can be crucial in promoting compliance-focused secure coding practices by advocating amongst their peers and bridging communication gaps between development and security teams.  

To keep them engaged, offer Security Champions opportunities for advanced training, create specialized learning paths tailored to compliance requirements, and empower them to personalize their security learning experience. 


Step 7: Measuring Results 

Accurately measuring the success of your program is crucial to its long-term success. Since you have your baseline metrics tracked, you can utilize secure coding training reporting to continually monitor those baseline metrics to measure your program’s results. 

Read The Blog: Essential Features for Your Secure Coding Training Platform 

Common reports you can use include: 

  • Completion Reports 
  • Progress Report 
  • Learning Swing 
  • Learner Feedback 
  • Weekly Streak 
  • Most Points in the Last 30 Days 

Sharing these results with learners and key stakeholders will create transparency and help ensure everyone is included in the program's success. 


Are You Ready To Get Started? 

Building and maintaining a compliance-focused secure coding training program is complex, but with Security Journey, you have a robust platform to help you achieve your goals. 

Remember that the key to success is to plan your program goals carefully, know your learners and their job functions, and track your progress by pulling baseline data and collecting key metrics. By doing so, you can measure your program’s success and make informed decisions about improving it over time. 

You can download our Seven Steps to an Ideal Secure Coding Training Program Quick Guide for more information, and you can reach out to our team to learn how Security Journey can help you reach your compliance goals and more.