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Secure Coding Training for PCI Compliance

Secure Coding Training for PCI Compliance

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The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of robust requirements designed to safeguard cardholder data throughout its lifecycle.  

Read More: What is PCI Compliance? 

Secure coding practices are a foundational element of PCI-DSS v4.0 compliance, and failing to prioritize them can lead to significant consequences, including hefty fines and reputational damage. 

Visit our Business Guide to PCI-DSS Compliance Training for more information


Why Secure Coding Matters for PCI Compliance 

Insecure coding practices can introduce vulnerabilities in applications that handle cardholder data.  

These vulnerabilities can take many forms, such as SQL injection attacks that allow hackers to steal data from databases or cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks that can be used to steal session cookies or inject malicious code into web pages. Attackers can exploit these vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to cardholder data, leading to a data breach.  

More Helpful Resources: Top 8 PCI DSS Compliance Tips 

For instance, the massive Equifax data breach in 2017 exposed the personal data of over 147 million people. This breach was linked to an unpatched vulnerability on a web application, ultimately enabling an SQL injection attack. 


Benefits of Secure Coding Training 

Secure coding training offers many advantages that extend far beyond achieving PCI compliance.  

Read More About Secure Coding Training: A Must During The Vulnerability Patching Crisis 

Here are some key benefits: 

  • Goes Beyond Compliance - Training fosters a culture of security awareness among developers, equipping them to make security a priority throughout the entire development lifecycle, not just a checkbox exercise to meet an external standard. 
  • Proactive Defense — Secure coding training equips developers with the skills to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities early in the development process. This significantly reduces the attack surface and proactively protects your applications.  
  • Cost Savings - While investing in secure coding training may seem like an initial expense, it pales compared to the cost of remediating a data breach. Data breaches can result in significant financial losses, reputational damage, and even legal repercussions. By preventing breaches in the first place, secure coding training can save your organization a considerable amount of money in the long run. 


What to Look for in Secure Coding Training 

When choosing secure coding training, it is crucial to ensure it aligns directly with PCI-DSS standards that say: 

“Software development personnel remain knowledgeable about secure development practices; software security; and attacks against the languages, frameworks, or applications they develop. Personnel are able to access assistance and guidance when required.”  

This means that software development personnel are trained annually on:  

  • Software security relevant to their job function and development languages  
  • Secure software design and secure coding techniques  
  • How to use the tools for detailed vulnerabilities in software  

A yearly OWASP Top 10 training will only meet some of the requirements outlined in 6.2.2, and depending on your organization. Additionally, to maximize its effectiveness, the training program should be tailored to the specific technologies used by your development team. This means covering the programming languages and environments they work with daily. 

More specific guidelines have been given in PCI DSS v4.0 on how developers should be trained. The training guidelines stated above can be easily achieved when you partner with a secure coding training partner for a continuous secure coding training program.  


Steps to Build a Secure Coding Training Program 

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. 

  1. Planning Your Program - When planning an application security training program for your organization, clearly understanding your overarching goal is essential. By focusing on one or two specific goals, you can more easily track key performance indicators and accurately measure the success of your program.  
  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.  By tracking these metrics, you can ensure that you are addressing the threats and vulnerabilities that caused the security incident. 
  3. Prioritizing Internal Communications — Effective internal communication is crucial for the success of any organization. We encourage our customers to explore ideas for these communications to help them achieve internal buy-in for their new program and keep their learners engaged throughout the training process. 
  4. Selecting Your Training Content — Security Journey offers a wide array of training content for everyone within your SDLC. Through video and hands-on lesson modalities, you can find content based on language, topic, role, compliance, and more. 
  5. Incorporating Tournaments - Secure coding training tournaments provide a gamified approach to secure coding training for developers. With tournaments, developers compete to solve challenges involving identifying vulnerabilities or writing secure code. 
  6. Security Champions - Security Champions can be crucial in promoting proactive, secure coding practices by advocating amongst their peers and bridging communication gaps between development and security teams.   
  7. Measuring Results — Accurately measuring your program's success 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 Full Article: Your Guide to Building the Ideal Secure Coding Training Program 


Beyond Compliance: Building a Secure Coding Culture 

Secure coding training is an investment in the security of your organization's data and the trust of your customers.  

By prioritizing secure coding practices, you can significantly reduce the risk of data breaches and safeguard sensitive customer information. Don't wait for a regulatory audit or a data breach to take action.   

Evaluate your PCI-DSS compliance plan and take steps to ensure your developers have the skills and knowledge they need to write secure code.