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Proactive vs. Reactive: Why Waiting for a Breach to Invest in Secure Coding Training is a Costly Mistake

Proactive vs. Reactive: Why Waiting for a Breach to Invest in Secure Coding Training is a Costly Mistake

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In the world of application security, there are two main approaches:   

  • Proactive  
  • Reactive  

The proactive approach is all about prevention. This means training developers to write secure code from the start, identifying potential weaknesses early on, and integrating security checks throughout the development process.   

On the other hand, the reactive approach involves patching vulnerabilities after they've been exploited, responding to security incidents, and running scans to find weaknesses that may have slipped through the cracks.   

According to a 2024 study on secure coding, in the past year, 54% of respondents had a security incident due to an unpatched vulnerability, and 51% had more than 8 security incidents because of an unpatched vulnerability.  

In this article, we'll dive into proactive and reactive application security and how secure coding training can help you build a successful proactive appsec program.  


The Reactive Approach – Playing with Fire  

A reactive approach to application security centers on responding to security problems after they happen. The focus lies in containing attacks, patching vulnerabilities, and deploying fixes in a crisis situation.   

Key strategies include:  

  • Having a well-defined incident response plan to analyze and learn from breaches  
  • Diligently applying security updates to operating systems and external libraries  
  • Regularly scanning applications to find weaknesses that might have surfaced post-development  
  • Conducting penetration testing to simulate attacks and expose vulnerabilities that may have been overlooked  

Read The Article: The Importance of Secure Code Training: Building a Strong First Line of Defense 

A reactive approach to application security can carry hefty costs. Beyond the immediate financial losses stemming from system downtime, regulatory fines, and the expenses of remediation efforts, there's the often irreparable reputational damage and the resulting erosion of customer trust.  

Additionally, the constant firefighting caused by a reactive approach puts immense stress on development teams and security personnel, potentially leading to lowered productivity and burnout.  


The Proactive Approach – Smart Prevention  

A proactive approach to application security prioritizes preventing security incidents before they even have a chance to occur. Its focus is systematically identifying and addressing potential vulnerabilities across the entire software development lifecycle.   

Key strategies in this approach include   

  • Secure coding training that educates developers on best practices and common pitfalls  
  • Threat modeling to anticipate attack surfaces and implement safeguards  
  • The integration of various security testing tools (SAST, DAST, IAST)  
  • Embracing A "security by design" philosophy where security is woven into the software's architecture from its inception  

Proactive security training offers significant benefits to organizations. Empowering developers to build security into their code dramatically reduces the risk of costly breaches. This training goes beyond just preventing vulnerabilities; it improves code quality overall. Most importantly, it helps foster a culture of security throughout the development process, where security considerations are baked in rather than bolted on.   

Read The Article: 7 Steps to Build a Proactive Secure Coding Training Program 

In the long run, proactive training leads to substantial cost savings by avoiding the expenses associated with incident response and remediation.  


Secure Coding Training as a Proactive Investment  

Secure coding training is essential for organizations prioritizing data security, particularly in finance, healthcare, and government industries. This training equips developers with the skills to minimize security risks and address vulnerabilities, including SQL injection and cross-site scripting.   

The belief that secure coding training hampers developer productivity is a fallacy. Investing in high-quality training leads to stable and secure software, ultimately saving time and resources. 

Prioritizing secure coding practices from the start addresses vulnerabilities proactively, reducing the need for costly rework and mitigating the impact of potential security breaches. Well-designed and effectively delivered modern secure coding training empowers developers to create more secure code efficiently. 

Read The Full Article: Myth: Secure Coding Slows You Down. Truth: It Speeds You Up! 

Ultimately, companies that embrace this approach gain the "secure productivity advantage" by delivering higher—quality, trusted software faster than their less security-conscious competitors.  


ROI on Secure Coding Training 

Now it's time to answer the key question: What is the ROI on Secure Coding Training?  

Taking our calculations from our blog article, How to Measure the ROI of Application Security Training: 

  • The total average cost to remediate vulnerabilities is $757,215 annually 
  • The total average cost to train 100 developers on application security is $122,400 annually 

Now let's do the calculation for your ROI on Security Coding Training:  

This calculation shows that AppSec Education has a 5x ROI, assuming you can prevent the same 30% of vulnerabilities you would want to remediate each year. 

The calculation of the financial benefits of a Secure Coding Training Program goes beyond preventing vulnerabilities and reducing exposure. It also accounts for the organization's risk reduction, including preventing vulnerabilities, reducing the overall attack surface, and protecting your and your customer's data. These factors further enhance the value of a robust Secure Coding Training Program. 


Getting Started on Your Proactive Program 

While some reactive measures are necessary, a proactive appsec strategy is a smarter business decision. By preventing vulnerabilities upfront, you can significantly reduce your risk of costly breaches, save money in the long run, and build a culture of security within your development teams.  

If you want to learn more about building a secure coding training program as an investment in your proactive security program, you can download our free ‘Seven Steps to an Ideal Secure Coding Training Program’ guide here.