PCI Secure Coding Training Requirements

The payments industry processes large amounts of sensitive personal data. As such, it is among the first to define strict safety standards. Security is critical in payment transactions, and any weakness can compromise data and lead to credit card fraud, which causes huge losses for stakeholders.

Secure Software Development Training or Secure Coding Training is training for software developers to learn to develop more secure code. Secure Software Development Training usually includes going over the most critical vulnerabilities, such as OWASP Top 10 or CWE/SANS Top 25. It explores best practices for developing secure code by discussing how to write code to defend against these vulnerabilities.

See Also: How to Perform Code Reviews for PCI Requirements

Many software engineers continue to advance in their careers without acquiring the secure coding foundations vital to keeping products secure. Vulnerabilities increase the likelihood of a data breach and financial loss, while secure development training reduces these events’ chance.

Of course, safe software development training will not prevent all security vulnerabilities. However, it is the first step in reducing the risk of security vulnerabilities in software. Software developers need to be part of the solution and take responsibility for their code.

See Also: What Does PCI Compliant Software Development Mean for Developers

The software development side often expects security teams to run application security tests and fix the code when problems are found. But no one knows the software better than the software developer who coded it. Also, security and software developers should be on the same team, and both should be responsible for the application’s security.

The further you go in the development and production process where a vulnerability is found, the more costly it will be to find and fix the vulnerability. It is preferable to develop software with as much security in mind as possible to eliminate security vulnerabilities at the source.

Training software developers reduce vulnerabilities, saves money, reduces the risk of security breaches through developed software, and saves time.

If software developers have had secure development training in the past, that doesn’t mean they remember everything and have mastered the latest attacks and defense techniques. It’s essential to take a yearly training to refresh the software developers’ skills and learn about the latest threats.

PCI DSS is a mandatory security standard for all companies developing or working with systems that process credit cards. For PCI DSS development, recognizes the importance of software security and encourages applying relevant best practices in code.

PCI DSS requires following secure coding guidelines and requires developers to educate themselves on the latest best practices. Learning software security also requires changes in your approach to programming.

All at the same, software security is a moving target. Attackers are constantly honing their skills and inventing new attack strategies. Therefore, PCI DSS requires software developers to undergo annual training in security techniques.

Per the PCI DSS 6.5 requirement, your developers must receive regular security training at least once a year. Training topics should be up to date, and you should know what your developers are doing and how they are making progress.

In our ever-changing world, it can be challenging to keep up with the latest trends in software development. New technologies emerge all the time, and old technologies are phased out. You can’t have years of old training that covers only high-level security topics. That’s why it’s essential to keep your training up-to-date with the latest technologies so that your developers always have the tools they need to build secure software in their current working environment.

Do some research and learn the latest security news and vulnerabilities. Then audit your current training practices and see if your training teaches the latest and most extraordinary exploits by attackers.

Inquire with your developers about their impressions of your training. It may surprise you to learn that developers feel your education is outdated and not giving them what they truly need. This way, you can improve your training program and provide feedback that can help build confidence in your developers.

If your developers don’t remember the training details or use them, it won’t help either. A developer trained in secure software development and then doesn’t use it may still be introducing security vulnerabilities to your application.

Reporting is a common way to find out what your developers are doing. However, you don’t need to constantly monitor your developers to ensure things are done according to security guidelines.

Instead, make sure your developers understand this in non-intrusive ways. Let them spend time in your developer labs and include interactive exercises to help them understand the safe coding training material.

It can export a report showing developers have completed the lab work or test a course instructor’s knowledge with quizzes. This way, you can rate your developers and create a leaderboard for friendly competition.

Applying security concepts in daily work is the actual litmus test of a developer’s understanding of security concepts. Your secure software development training program should integrate well with the tools developers use every day.

Vulnerabilities can be tagged with relevant security training and then placed in a system. Developers can complete a training exercise before patching the vulnerability, so they know why it’s a problem and how to fix it.

Realistic training mixed with interactive labs that show how to exploit and fix vulnerabilities will also help developers apply what they’ve learned to their daily work.

If you are interested in PCI secure coding training, you are holding sensitive financial data. Your software developers should understand how to protect this sensitive information. PCI DSS data protection entails more than just encryption. If a stack trace leads to elevation of privilege, which gives the attacker the privilege to see sensitive data, it means nothing if the data is encrypted. Your developers must understand data at rest and in transit and protect it against multiple attack channels.

Your software developers should understand the platforms and technologies they use and what vulnerabilities are common in them. Make sure your training program includes such practical day-to-day training, rather than just high-level concepts.

In addition, PCI DSS identifies external sources of information where software developers can learn more about specific software security vulnerabilities and current trends in the field.

  • CWE 25 Most Dangerous Software Errors: CWE is a comprehensive database of common security weaknesses in code and hardware. It creates metrics based on all real-world software vulnerabilities reported in the previous two years. The CWE team identifies the 25 most dangerous software bugs using the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS).
  • CERT Secure Coding Standards: PCI DSS requirement 6.5 is about avoiding common coding vulnerabilities by training developers and developing applications based on secure coding guidelines. One of the most widely applied sets of such guidelines is the SEI CERT Coding Standards.
  • OWASP Top Ten: The OWASP Top Ten has become a key reference point in Web application security in recent years. Therefore, the vulnerabilities listed in PCI requirements 6.5.1 through 6.5.10 are compatible with this list.

PCI compliance and training can be a complex topic with many different facets. However, secure software development training cannot be ignored as it is an essential part of ensuring your software security.

Awareness is insufficient when it comes to educating developers on software security. Software engineers can only gain secure coding literacy by understanding weaknesses, detailed discussions on best practices, and hands-on labs to learn skills.

However, these are only the fundamentals that should be present. Developers working in finance must also be familiar with the industry’s nuances, such as specific attacker motivations, threats and risks, regulations, standards, and guidelines.

Create tutorials that are up to date with the latest technology, provide an easy way to demonstrate your developers’ technical progress, and teach your developers various techniques for protecting sensitive data in your app. By doing this, you can fulfill both the requirements and the spirit of the PCI standard.

You can also review the following articles about application security and vulnerabilities:

What is SQL Injection and How to Prevent It?

What is Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) and How to Prevent It?

What is OS Command Injection and How to Prevent It?

Surkay Baykara
Surkay Baykarahttps://www.pcidssguide.com
A passionate Senior Information Security Consultant working at Cyberwise. Over the past 15+ years my professional career has included several positions beginning as a developer and IT administrator, working my way up to a senior Technical Performance Consultant before joining Biznet back in 2015. I had several different roles at Cyberwise, including Penetration Tester and PCI DSS QSA. In my job as a QSA, I found my passion and worked closely with the Audit and Compliance team. I've been working inside InfoSec for over 15 years, coming from a highly technical background. I have earned several certifications during my professional career including; CEH, CISA, CISSP, and PCI QSA.

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