Hi Chris,

My experience is that, like most engineers, most software developers want to 
improve their skills and that, as a group, they hate making easily-avoidable 
mistakes of any sort. Training that focuses on reinforcing their existing 
skills in design and development and then works methodically to give them the 
extra layer of knowledge to make the code not only function, but also behave 
with respect to security, is almost always well received. Any training that 
comes across as, "You're doing it wrong, stop everything and do it this way" 
will almost always be ignored. No one has time for that.

Internal groups and others who are getting started in developer training tend 
to create "bug parade" kinds of materials. You'll see slide after slide of 
five-line code snippets while the instructor says "That's wrong, don't do 
that." That kind of mistake detection is often so easily automatable these 
days, that buying or building training for it, and taking all your developers 
out of action for a day or two to run through it, may not be the best choice.

As you alluded to, we need to teach developers how to actually write secure 
code. The problem, however, is that the march of development methods, 
languages, frameworks, architectures, and so on means there usually cannot be a 
single approach for, by way of example, coding input validation routines. On 
the whole, the industry is at the stage where we need to teach developers to 
recognize situations where "security goes here," and give them the reasoning 
skills and prescriptive guidance to code their way out of the problem in their 
particular environment.

This kind of defensive programming training seems to be most valuable these 
days and it takes real experience and real experts to create and deliver such 

Meanwhile, it takes more than educated developers to produce software that 
behaves appropriately in the face of attack. The requirements people also need 
some help and it's unlikely the business analysts, the architects, and the 
testers are sufficiently considering the non-functional security aspects of the 
thing they are trying to bring to life. Of cause, the operations folks also 
need to understand their part in the "secure software" lifecycle. In addition, 
executives need to understand how to govern and managers need to understand how 
to facilitate.

By way of full disclosure, I've spent a great deal of time building such a 
cross-cutting curriculum at Cigital, which we've delivered to a variety of 
financial services, independent software vendor, and other organizations.

As for pricing, I've seen everything from a few hundred dollars per person for 
material you could effectively download yourself to $12,000 or more per day for 
a few slides and one big exercise that may have nothing to do with a group's 
particular needs. I've also seen a few examples of some really good stuff that 
just "speaks to me." Organizations must make sure they're getting an instructor 
that thoroughly understands the material and that they've worked with the 
training provider to ensure the material is appropriately customized to their 

Effectiveness is in the eye of the beholder. The actual impact of developer 
training alone may take months to show up in even the most mature dashboard. 
More broad training across each of the key roles, appropriately supported by 
prescriptive guidance and automation, has historically shown a recognizable 
impact (e.g., finding many more security-related bugs much earlier in the SDLC) 
much more quickly.

I recently put together some (long) thoughts on an approach for training. You 
can see them at 


Sammy Migues
Director, Knowledge Management and Training
703.404.5830 - http://www.cigital.com<http://www.cigital.com/>

From: [EMAIL PROTECTED] [mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] On Behalf Of McCown, 
Christian M
Sent: Thursday, August 16, 2007 7:23 PM
To: sc-l@securecoding.org
Subject: [SC-L] Software Security Training for Developers

What are folks' experiences with software security training for developers?  By 
this, I'm referring to teaching developers how to write secure code.  Ex. 
things like how to actually code input validation routines, what "evil" 
functions and libraries to avoid, how to handle exceptions without divulging 
too much info, etc.  Not "how to hack applications".  There are quality courses 
and training that show you how to break into apps--which are great, but my 
concern is that if you are a developer (vs. a security analyst, QA type, 
pen-tester, etc.),even when you know what could happen, unless you've been 
specifically taught how to implement these concepts  in your language/platform 
of choice (ASP .NET, C#, Java, etc.), you're not getting the most bang for the 
buck from them.

What vendors teach it?
How much does it cost?
Actual impact realized?


Chris McCown, GSEC(Gold)
Intel Corporation
* (916) 377-9428 | * [EMAIL PROTECTED]<mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
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