Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Schneier Says User Awareness: Tired, Dev Training: Wired

Bruce Schneier tackles security training in Dark Reading. He basically says that training users in classic "security awareness" training is a waste of money. Certainly there is a lot of evidence to back up that claim, users routinely click on certificate warnings, for example.

What I found most interesting is what Bruce Schneier recommended to do instead of security awareness training for users:
we should be spending money on security training for developers. These are people who can be taught expertise in a fast-changing environment, and this is a situation where raising the average behavior increases the security of the overall system.

If we security engineers do our job right, users will get their awareness training informally and organically, from their colleagues and friends. People will learn the correct folk models of security, and be able to make decisions using them. Then maybe an organization can spend an hour a year reminding their employees what good security means at that organization, both on the computer and off. That makes a whole lot more sense.
Of course I wholeheartedly agree with this. Let's say doing a great job on security awareness training for users, best case, maybe takes the rate of users clicking through cert warnings from 90% to 80%.

On the other hand, developers, security people and architects are actually building and running the system. If they know how to avoid mistakes they are in a position to protect across all the app users from a broad range of threats.

This is the essence of what Ken and I focus on in Mobile App Sec Triathlon training. I wrote about it in Why We Train. We want to help developers, security people and architects recognize security problems in design, development and operations; and, crucially, have some concrete ideas on what they can do about them.

Companies are scrambling to get "something" up and running for Mobile, either enterprise side or customer/external facing or both. It really reminds me of the early days of the web. A lot of this is vert fragmented inside of companies. A lot is outsourced, too. Ken and I put a lot of thought into the three day class so that its focused on what companies want and need.

Choose Your Own Adventure
Day one is about  mobile threats that apply to all platforms, architecture, and design considerations. We look at threat modeling for Mobile. We drill down on the identity issues for mobile, server side and what makes a Mobile DMZ. The class is setup so that architects and dev managers may choose to just attend day one.

Days two and three are hands on iOS and Android. Depending on what your company is building and/or outsourcing. You come out of these days knowing how to avoid security pitfalls in coding for mobile. Whether you are doing the dev in house or working with a provider, developers and security people will have a deeper understanding of the core security design and development options for building more secure code.

We recently announced scholarship program for students and interns. Based on past trainings, this has proven to be a great way to get fresh perspective on mobile trends. Finally since many companies are launching new mobile projects, we often see whole teams that need to get up to speed on issues rather quickly (before deployment0, so to serve this need we offer a group discount, send three people and the fourth comes free.

Overall our approach is geared towards adapting to the things that are most useful to companies trying to build more secure mobile apps. Training developers on secure coding is not yet a sina qua non, but for those that invest in building up skills and expertise it pays dividends in protecting your users, data, and organization.

Three days of iOS and Android AppSec training with Gunnar Peterson and Ken van Wyk - Training dates NYC April 29-May 1

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