How Colgate-Palmolive boosted developer security skills and created a secure coding culture

Published Jun 07, 2023
by
cASE sTUDY

How Colgate-Palmolive boosted developer security skills and created a secure coding culture

Image of a monitor with the case study text
Image of a monitor with the case study text

About Colgate-Palmolive

Colgate-Palmolive Company is a marquis consumer products brand known and loved across households everywhere. Despite being more than two centuries old, they are an innovative growth company leveraging digital to reimagine a healthier future for people, their pets, and the planet.


Program Details

  • Secure Code Warrior customer since November 2020
  • Leveraged SCW’s deep and broad coverage of coding languages and frameworks
  • Ensured every developer acquired secure coding skills and established developer security awareness as a prerequisite 
to participation in coding projects
  • Created an Okta workflow that gated access to the GitHub repository based on developers having passed a core set of SCW secure coding courses and challenges


Situation

Colgate-Palmolive, just like nearly every other organization, is going through a digital transformation to better serve its customers, and this has led to a shift in how the organization approaches application security.

Alex Schuchman, CISO at Colgate-Palmolive, puts it this way:

“It is very important to us that we are protecting our customer’s data and therefore are able to build trust—not just in our products but in the digital interactions our customers have with us."

But for Alex, the challenge was to secure the root source of potential customer data breaches—the code itself.

“Working on the build side of applications was really helpful when I made the switch over to my role as CISO. I understand the pain of getting tickets back from AppSec or the frustration of missing deadlines because of re-work. As a result, my goal as CISO hasn't just been increasing security in the software development lifecycle, but also streamlining how it is implemented.”

Action

Colgate-Palmolive approached this challenge by breaking up its security training into smaller, bite-sized chunks. This made it more palatable for developers so they could fit it into their workflow, instead of the long, monolithic compliance training they were used to. By leveraging Secure Code Warrior’s agile, in-context approach to secure code learning, developers were able to understand vulnerabilities in the context of their real-life projects – leading to higher engagement and long-term retention of secure coding skills.

“I wanted to roll out these best practices while keeping the developers engaged,” says Alex. “We still have mandated critical parts of the program but keeping the training manageable and listening to developer feedback has helped the program be successful.”

Colgate-Palmolive implemented an Okta workflow that gates the GitHub repository, allowing only developers who've passed specific SCW assessments access for pull requests, as depicted in the diagram below.

Results

According to Alex, “We understood that to optimize for success we needed to have our developers on-board from the start. So we made sure the developers knew they would be a critical part of the success of the program. As a result, we found that there was a much better relationship between our security team and our developers, and it really felt like we were working together as a team on the program. We are continuing to expand and scale the security maturity program, building on the success we have already enjoyed.”

Key takeaways

  1. Clearly define program goals and emphasize developer input and engagement. Developers are more likely to buy-in to a secure code learning program that is built into their workflow and integrated with the dev tools they use every day.
  2. Using an SSO tool such as Okta to gate the code repository incentivizes the team.  Only developers with a passing score on specific SCW courses and assessment are permitted to make pull requests.  
  3. Over time, build a security culture that promotes a strong working relationship between AppSec and Development teams.

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How Colgate-Palmolive boosted developer security skills and created a secure coding culture

Published Jan 22, 2024
By

About Colgate-Palmolive

Colgate-Palmolive Company is a marquis consumer products brand known and loved across households everywhere. Despite being more than two centuries old, they are an innovative growth company leveraging digital to reimagine a healthier future for people, their pets, and the planet.


Program Details

  • Secure Code Warrior customer since November 2020
  • Leveraged SCW’s deep and broad coverage of coding languages and frameworks
  • Ensured every developer acquired secure coding skills and established developer security awareness as a prerequisite 
to participation in coding projects
  • Created an Okta workflow that gated access to the GitHub repository based on developers having passed a core set of SCW secure coding courses and challenges


Situation

Colgate-Palmolive, just like nearly every other organization, is going through a digital transformation to better serve its customers, and this has led to a shift in how the organization approaches application security.

Alex Schuchman, CISO at Colgate-Palmolive, puts it this way:

“It is very important to us that we are protecting our customer’s data and therefore are able to build trust—not just in our products but in the digital interactions our customers have with us."

But for Alex, the challenge was to secure the root source of potential customer data breaches—the code itself.

“Working on the build side of applications was really helpful when I made the switch over to my role as CISO. I understand the pain of getting tickets back from AppSec or the frustration of missing deadlines because of re-work. As a result, my goal as CISO hasn't just been increasing security in the software development lifecycle, but also streamlining how it is implemented.”

Action

Colgate-Palmolive approached this challenge by breaking up its security training into smaller, bite-sized chunks. This made it more palatable for developers so they could fit it into their workflow, instead of the long, monolithic compliance training they were used to. By leveraging Secure Code Warrior’s agile, in-context approach to secure code learning, developers were able to understand vulnerabilities in the context of their real-life projects – leading to higher engagement and long-term retention of secure coding skills.

“I wanted to roll out these best practices while keeping the developers engaged,” says Alex. “We still have mandated critical parts of the program but keeping the training manageable and listening to developer feedback has helped the program be successful.”

Colgate-Palmolive implemented an Okta workflow that gates the GitHub repository, allowing only developers who've passed specific SCW assessments access for pull requests, as depicted in the diagram below.

Results

According to Alex, “We understood that to optimize for success we needed to have our developers on-board from the start. So we made sure the developers knew they would be a critical part of the success of the program. As a result, we found that there was a much better relationship between our security team and our developers, and it really felt like we were working together as a team on the program. We are continuing to expand and scale the security maturity program, building on the success we have already enjoyed.”

Key takeaways

  1. Clearly define program goals and emphasize developer input and engagement. Developers are more likely to buy-in to a secure code learning program that is built into their workflow and integrated with the dev tools they use every day.
  2. Using an SSO tool such as Okta to gate the code repository incentivizes the team.  Only developers with a passing score on specific SCW courses and assessment are permitted to make pull requests.  
  3. Over time, build a security culture that promotes a strong working relationship between AppSec and Development teams.

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