The training you have selected is too ‘off topic’

By Tanya Janca (SheHacksPurple) on June 26, 2021

In this series we are discussing how to get your technical training approved at work. This is not the first article, and you may want to go back and read it from the start.

In the previous article, we talked about how we need to explain to our boss not only which training we want, but we must overcome any objections, if we are going to get it approved. Let’s look at the second objection in our list.

Back in the day I requested approval to take a web-app hacking course, and I recall my boss saying, “You don’t need to learn that; you just need to run the scanner.” My job was web app penetration testing, and it was clear my boss had no idea what I did all day. He seemed to think that manual security testing was unnecessary, and at the time I had no idea how to explain we needed a lot more if we wanted to ensure our apps were very secure. I ended up watching a lot of videos on the internet, playing around, and wasting a ton of time.

When I switched over into Application Security, it got even more difficult, as most of the courses only offered to teach me “the OWASP Top Ten” (which I already knew well), and then the main security controls (authentication, authorization, encryption, identity) and little else. I wanted to know how to do my job, not theory and not basic web app hacking (I already knew that). Plus, they always seemed to go really deep into encryption, but I already knew my teams would never be writing their own encryption, so I didn’t get why they felt the need to always cover it…

I found the entire situation infuriating. I felt like I couldn’t win.

Image of women holding computer
Image of women holding computer provided by #WOCTechChat

If you are asking your boss to take training it must fall into one of two categories:

1. It will help you do your current/new job better

2. It will help you grow within the organization so you can get a promotion someday (also known as career development)

Note: If you are a Rudy developer and you asked your boss to pay for you to take a basket weaving course, this blog article is not going to help you. That said, if you are a Ruby developer and you asked your boss to pay for a secure-coding-in-ruby course or an application security course, then this article can help.

Remember I said in the first article that you needed to read the syllabus and keep track of what’s on the course and how it relates to your job? Now is time to get that info so we can write your justification letter. Just like in the previous article, I am going to use the Application Security Foundations Program from We Hack Purple as the example, but you should be able to use whichever training you have choose.

Dear Boss,

I want to take the We Hack Purple Application Security Foundations Program for my training this year. I know you told me that it’s too ‘off topic’ for my job, but I wanted to explain to you how it will definitely help me do my job better.

Right now, our InfoSec team keeps bringing in a PenTester to test our apps right before we release them. They always find 100 things wrong, because none of our devs know anything about security. We always end up with late projects and everyone freaking out, because it’s so last minute. Lots of overtime and stress. I could help teach them what they need to know, so we could create more-secure software. The PenTesters will find a lot less wrong with our apps.

Also, the program comes with a copy of Alice and Bob Learn Application Security. I know the one copy we have is currently constantly being used by my team for reference, so having a second copy would be really great.

If I took this course, I would know how we could do this better. The dev team could do some testing ourselves (carefully), and other stuff to make sure our apps are in better shape by the time the PenTester comes. The program has a secure coding guideline we could adopt, and even an API best practices guide. We currently have no idea how to secure our APIs, and we keep reading on the internet and we’re lost. This course would help me understand so much! And then I could be the ‘security champion’ on our dev team, the one everyone can turn to when they need help. I know you feel this is outside my job description, but someone has to do it. I want that someone to be me.


Up next we will cover Objection 3: There’s no time with your current workload for you to take training.

Categories: Blog