Use security by design in your business

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Date: 23 March 2020

An airport security guard checks a passenger before he is allowed through the security gate

In today’s digital world, businesses must embrace new technologies and continually innovate if they are to remain relevant and competitive. However, if you rush to modernize your operations and systems, vulnerabilities can arise that will leave you exposed to risk. Hackers are always ready to exploit such vulnerabilities to access your system. Security by design is a cyber-security approach that leverages risk thinking from the start.

Is security by design a risk management strategy?

Security by design can be regarded as a risk management strategy since it helps you to safeguard your systems and data. It considers security and risk from the outset of any new initiative and seeks to nurture trust at all stages of your operation. It underlines the fact that cybersecurity should be at the forefront of your planning, not an afterthought. Companies should be proactive in finding ways of protecting their operations from cybercriminals.

This risk management strategy plays a significant role in software and hardware development because as systems become more complicated, securing them gets harder. Moreover, patching security holes and addressing existing vulnerabilities can be difficult. You can make things easier by designing systems that are as secure as possible from the outset. Continuous testing, implementation of authentication safeguards and adherence to the best programming practices also come in handy. Here’s how you can use security by design in your business.

Establish secure defaults

Data is critical to many businesses. To prevent breaches, user access to data should be limited. You can use the principles of security by design to prevent unauthorized users from accessing certain resources. This will make your system and networks secure by default.

Minimise the attack surface area

Any application you use in your business will come with features that can be utilized by hackers to breach your network. For each function that gets added to your applications, the potential attack area expands. This makes apps more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Security by design can help you minimize the attack surface by restricting users from accessing particular areas. In this way, you reduce the number of potential entry points that unauthorized users may leverage.  

Minimizing your attack surface area starts by pinpointing potential vulnerabilities. One way of doing so is by undertaking penetration testing to identify weaknesses in your systems. Once penetration tests have been carried out, it will be easier to identify and address security gaps in your system before you fall victim to cybercriminals.

Keeping security simple

Contrary to what you may think, security by design seeks to simplify risk management rather than complicating it. Anyone who has tried this risk management strategy will tell you that simplifying an application’s security protocols is easier than using intricate designs.

Generally, it’s harder to rectify complex systems when errors occur. Likewise, troubleshooting can be time-consuming, leaving your application and entire business at risk for longer. Security by design creates simple yet effective security controls that have a lower risk of errors.

Reducing the risk of liability

Cybercriminals target businesses both large and small. Regardless of the scale of your operation, it isn’t immune to cyber-attacks. Depending on the security protocols you have in place, these attacks can lead to a significant monetary and reputational loss. When you use security by, you reduce the risk of liability that would typically arise from a breach.

Your business will be held liable if it fails to implement robust and pragmatic security measures from the onset. If your company cannot prove that there are adequate security measures in place, it may face significant problems if a breach occurred. Security by design helps you to avoid such issues.

Establish an in-depth defense

Applications shouldn’t rely on a single security control measure. Security by design recommends the use of multiple levels of security. Adding additional layers of authorization and verification, makes the chance of an attack less likely. One defence layer will not offer adequate protection to your data. With multiple security layers in place, it will be difficult for cybercriminals to access sensitive information.

You should consider separating privileges so that individuals have distinct roles within the system. For example, if your business uses an ecommerce model, administrators and customers ought to be separated. If someone is your website administrator, they should be prevented from being a customer on the platform’s front-end since administrators can easily tweak administrative rights to get privileges that customers typically don’t have. Likewise, customers cannot be administrators.

Cybercriminals target all businesses. However, you can make your business less vulnerable to cyber-attacks by using security by design. This cybersecurity strategy might sound complicated, but it effectively protects your business from potential risks that could cost you millions. It reduces system errors from the beginning, leaving you to focus on building a successful operation.

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