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

The Importance of Secure Code Training

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This article was written by Michael Burch, Director of Application Security at Security Journey. 

Security threats have become increasingly sophisticated and prevalent in today's digital landscape. Cyberattacks pose a significant risk to data and infrastructure and can have severe repercussions on an organization's reputation and bottom line.  

Today, many organizations rely on security scanning tools and pen testers. While investing in both is a valuable aspect of a comprehensive security strategy, it is essential to recognize that these are safety nets that come into play when vulnerabilities slip through the development process.  

The first line of defense is empowering our developers with secure code training 

This article highlights the differences between security awareness training and secure code training and explains the value of training developers to write secure software. 


Understanding the Differences: Security Awareness Training vs. Secure Code Training 


Security Awareness Training 

Security awareness training is designed to educate employees at all levels about the general principles of cybersecurity, best practices for identifying and reporting potential threats, and the importance of following security policies and procedures.  

This training typically covers topics such as password management, recognizing phishing attempts, and understanding the basics of data protection.  

Role-based training for groups like developers often focuses on fundamental security awareness of the OWASP Top 10. 


Secure Code Training 

On the other hand, secure code training is specifically tailored to software developers and aims to equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary to write secure code from the ground up.  

This training delves deep into secure coding practices, common vulnerabilities, secure design principles, and the secure implementation of software features. The best solutions offer the ability for developers to get hands-on practice breaking and fixing code in an application sandbox to build skills to actually keep applications safe. 


The Limitations of Safety Nets 

While security scanning tools and pen testers are valuable components of a robust security strategy, they have inherent limitations that make them inadequate as the sole defense mechanism: 

  • Reactive Approach - Scanning tools and pen testers are deployed after the code is written, making them a reactive measure. They identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses only after they have been introduced, which can lead to costly and time-consuming rework. 
  • False Sense of Security - Relying solely on safety nets can create a false sense of security within the organization. The absence of immediate threats may lead the organization to assume that the code is secure when, in reality, latent vulnerabilities may still exist. 
  • Time-Consuming Remediation - Addressing security flaws discovered through scanning tools and pen testers can delay software releases, impeding time-to-market and hindering business agility. 

Read The Article: Is Secure Coding Training a Better Investment Than Code Scanning Tools for Reducing Application Vulnerabilities? 


The Crucial Role of Secure Code Training 

To ensure the highest level of security in software development, taking secure code training is essential for the following reasons: 

  • Proactive Security - Secure code training fosters a proactive security culture within the development team. Developers become empowered to integrate security principles throughout the development lifecycle, significantly reducing the introduction of vulnerabilities in the first place. 
  • Early Detection and Mitigation - By imparting knowledge about common vulnerabilities and attack vectors, secure code training enables developers to detect and fix security issues during the development process well before the code reaches production. 
  • Cost-Effective - Investing in secure code training is a cost-effective approach in the long run. It helps minimize the expenditure on remediation efforts, emergency patches, and damage control that may result from post-deployment security incidents. 
  • Competitiveness and Customer Trust - In an era where cybersecurity incidents frequently make headlines, customers increasingly demand secure software. By prioritizing secure code training, organizations can enhance their reputation, instill trust, and gain a competitive edge in the market. 


Bridging the Educational Gap 

Despite software developers' indispensable role in shaping applications' security, most computer science degrees do not include comprehensive security education. We are responsible for bridging this educational gap and ensuring developers have the knowledge to build secure software. 

Read The Article: Beyond Security Awareness: Safer Apps through Education 

As cyber threats evolve, organizations must adapt their approach to cybersecurity. While security scanning tools and pen testers are crucial elements of a robust security strategy, they should not be mistaken as a substitute for secure code training. And while security awareness is a great starting point for building a more secure culture, developers need equipped with the knowledge and skills to write secure code as the first line of defense against potential threats.  

By investing in secure code training, organizations can proactively safeguard their software, protect their reputation, and build customer trust, ultimately leading to greater business success in today's cybersecurity landscape.