Smudge team sitting down having a conversation

CUSTOMER STORIES | SMUDGE

Bringing cyber security into Smudge’s culture of learning

Understanding security is key to app development company Smudge’s work, so finding a training programme they could count on to keep their team up to date was a priority. Their search for high-quality, relevant content that met their compliance needs while keeping their team engaged led them to SafeStack Academy.

“We really care about the intent behind everything we do. When we were looking at training options we wanted something engaging and relevant that would drive learning outcomes for our team. SafeStack Academy ticks those boxes.”

Reuben Bijl
Managing Director, Smudge

Smudge is an app development company that cares about making people’s lives a little easier every day. 

Based in Christchurch, the Smudge team builds custom mobile solutions for enterprise, so cyber security and privacy are business-critical considerations for most of their customers.

An example of this is OnDuty, a suite of apps built for New Zealand Police. Used by over 9,000 frontline officers, OnDuty enables frontline police to access data and intelligence in the field and complete formal paperwork using their smartphones. OnDuty collectively saves New Zealand Police over 500,000 hours every year, which they can then put back into creating safer communities.

Working on projects like OnDuty means the Smudge team has to carefully consider the security and privacy profiles of the solutions they deploy and the tools they use to build them. It’s important for their people to understand security and privacy, and Smudge is committed to helping them on this path.

Learning every day

From hiring curious lifelong learners to encouraging their team of 30 to be open about what they don’t know, Smudge consistently works to create and develop a culture of learning.

In line with this culture, Smudge’s leadership team spent several years searching for a high-quality online security programme that offered useful, relevant content, as well as meeting their compliance needs.

It was also important that the programme they chose would help their people learn the essentials while giving them the option of extending their learning as and when they wanted to.

A strong foundation for security

After trying out SafeStack Academy’s Security and Privacy Awareness and Secure Development programmes to see if they matched what they were looking for, Smudge went with all of them.


The engagement we’ve had with the SafeStack Academy team has been great, and their customer focused culture made the onboarding process easy.

Reuben Bijl, Managing Director


By combining these programmes, Smudge is creating a comprehensive security and privacy culture. They’re training their people in security awareness topics like password management, phishing, and security for remote working; privacy awareness topics like understanding privacy principles and managing privacy breaches; and secure development topics like finding and fixing security vulnerabilities and threat assessment.

Through their subscriptions, they’re also getting fresh content on an ongoing basis — monthly for Security and Privacy Awareness and quarterly for Secure Development.

Keeping it flexible

Smudge’s leadership has mandated certain courses for everyone on their team, and SafeStack Academy’s autonomous, open ended approach gives their employees the freedom to dip in and out of the content as they see fit, or to upskill themselves in specific areas that are relevant to particular projects or problems they’re working on. 

Trying SafeStack Academy before making a decision allowed the Smudge team to see what the content was like, what they’d learn, and how long they could expect to spend completing each course.


You can never do everything all the time, but the more knowledge and awareness you have as a team, the better your ability to spot things as they come up.

Security is a collective responsibility. We all need to notice and improve on it, and SafeStack Academy helps us do that.

Reuben Bijl, Managing Director


How it’s working

Some of the benefits Reuben and his team are seeing are more peace of mind around security and privacy, increased productivity and quality of work, and time savings through the ease of putting the training in place and tracking how learners are progressing.

After getting up and running, several Smudge employees completed every course right away, while others are working through the content at their own speed. The team’s feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, both on the quality and the format of the content.


The stages of SafeStack Academy’s training are self-contained, making it easy to put in 30 minutes or an hour here and there to work through a specific segment and feel like you’re making progress.

Declan Keighley, Developer


Getting everyone on the same page

Reuben recommends SafeStack Academy for other companies like Smudge, saying, “Everyone comes into an organisation with their own understanding around security principles. And while there might be some alignment, Safestack Academy has helped us increase our knowledge and speak the same language around key security principles and how they relate to our day-to-day work.”

We look forward to seeing what’s next for Smudge, and being part of their security and privacy journey.

Try SafeStack Academy

Find out more about our programmes and start your 14 day trial today.