With so many cloud-based services and advanced digital technologies, cybercriminals are developing new ways of breaching systems and stealing information. This became especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic when cybercrime became even more popular. Many companies were forced to take their operations online and allow employees to work from home which opened up a can of worms in terms of security. Employees, managers and stakeholders alike shared sensitive data over email and video chat, many doing so while connected to an unsecure network. During the pandemic, we learned that many conventional security techniques don’t work anymore, furthering the need for organizations to find a way to create unique security systems to protect their data.
So, what’s the best way to protect data during this digital age? Security by design. We’ll explain everything you need to know about how it works and why it’s the best solution for your business.
Security By Design Explained
Cybersecurity is one of the primary concerns for every business. However, traditional antivirus, antimalware, and other software solutions are not enough to ensure security in this digital age. Once an organization moves its entire operation online, it needs a strong data protection system in place. Since every system is different, most businesses have a custom cybersecurity solution designed specifically to fit the existing infrastructure and IT processes.
That leads us to security by design, which turns out to be the most efficient method of preventing cybercrime on an enterprise level. This type of cybersecurity focuses on preventing attacks rather than repairing the damage.
The best approach is to develop a full cybersecurity lifecycle that starts with an idea and ends as a complete product. Security by design has been around for a long time, but cloud computing makes it available to a wider customer base. For example, Amazon’s Web Services or AWS promote the same approach to all cloud customers.
In short, this approach facilitates a few technologies that make a huge difference in data protection. Some use automation while others infuse the software with management tools to simplify monitoring, reduce risks, and improve compliance reporting.
Security by design is an essential part of software and hardware development because adding security systems at later stages is much more complicated. Moreover, patching cybersecurity systems in real-time is also a significant challenge. Even when done right, an added security system will never be as effective as one that entered development from the very beginning of the project.
Lastly, cybersecurity is essential in systems that use the Internet of Things technology. IoT focuses on connecting all devices and machines to a centralized system, so organizations need a powerful cybersecurity system to ensure data integration.
Benefits of Security By Design
Security by design offers some major advantages. As mentioned above, this approach is much more powerful than any security solution added after adopting new technologies.
Here are the main benefits of security by design:
- It ensures safety for all devices and data connected to the system. It provides the same security features to all elements, including new products in development.
- It makes it much easier to identify existing weak spots and security risks before the damage is done. It can help remove all existing problems that might cause a lot of issues down the road.
- It allows organizations to take on new projects and drive innovation without the risk of future data breaches and other cybersecurity issues.
- It’s flexible. It allows organizations to make modifications whenever an update goes live instead of updating the system with every single change.
The Principles of Security by Design
Let’s look at the main principles of security by design. You must follow these principles to ensure that your applications and data are kept safe from cybercriminals and cyberattacks.
1. Minimize the Chances For Cyberattacks
Cybersecurity risks increase every time a programmer adds a new feature to an existing system. The key here is to create a strong security solution that can minimize the attack surface area. This is usually done by restricting functions and giving access only to team members. The programmer has to find a way to develop a new feature available only to registered users. That makes it much harder for a third party to breach the system and perform a successful cyberattack.
2. Input Validation
Doing something simple as defining available characters and numbers in every specific field can help reduce cybersecurity risks. The system will simply ignore all symbols that are not allowed in that specific field and will reduce the chances of system breaches tenfold.
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3. Provide Limited Privilege
Instead of allowing your users to interact with all tools and features, you can limit their access to essential features. If a user is supposed to perform routine website updates, they should have access only to that particular action. Remove all other administrative rights such as adding and removing users.
4. Separate Your Systems
If your organization includes multiple systems, keep them separated to prevent hackers from moving from system to system. For example, keep your web server separate from your databases. That way, if a server is compromised, the hacker won’t be able to extract any sensitive data.
5. Update The System and Keep Testing It Regularly
Whenever you update your system to the latest version, all previous security issues are fixed. However, updates might lead to other security issues you’re not aware of yet, so perform detailed security checks regularly to find security gaps and prevent future breaches.
6. Keep All Confidential Data Encrypted
Cloud computing has changed the way data is handled and stored. Instead of keeping all information on a legacy data center, most operations are moving their data to the cloud. However, that means that organizations lose control over where the data is stored and how it is processed. The safest approach is to encrypt all sensitive information before it makes it to the cloud. That way, if a hacker finds his way into the system, they won’t be able to access the data.
7. Don’t Trust Third-Party Services
Working with web applications that depend on third-party services is always risky. While some of them have excellent cybersecurity features, the vast majority fail to keep your data safe. With that said, if a third-party service doesn’t check the validity of data, your operation is at risk. If you have to work with third-party services, ensure that they make data checks, and even if they do, don’t provide any high-level permissions within the application. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
8. Defense in Depth
As the name suggests, defense-in-depth uses multiple technologies to keep a product secure on many different levels. Here’s a great example: some banking websites ask their users to provide login credentials and a one-time pin code sent to their phone number every time they want to make a money transfer. The process also includes an IP address check and brute-force detection.
Tie all security features in a way that scans data and users on multiple levels. Doing so will make it much easier to spot suspicious activities and pinpoint fake users. The bottom line is that you should use everything you can to make it harder for hackers to find their way into your system. You can also contact a custom web design company to walk you through the process.
9. Keep It Simple
There are many different methods you can use to improve security. However, if you don’t implement them correctly, you might be left with a complex architecture that makes it much harder to control security. Complex systems are a problem because they make it impossible to correct errors, test new features, and ensure that all data is protected.
Moreover, if your system is too complex, it will take your developers a lot of time to track down a hacker and prevent information loss. That’s why it’s important to keep things as simple as possible. Cybercriminals are masters of exploiting weaknesses, and a complex system gives them plenty of opportunities.
Businesses around the world pour billions of dollars into new cybersecurity solutions designed to keep up with the worldwide digital transformation. The traditional approach to cybersecurity isn’t sufficient any longer, so manufacturers and developers infuse the latest security features directly into their products.
We learned during the COVID-19 pandemic that it’s more important than ever to keep your data secure, as remote working and hybrid working environments are here to stay for many businesses around the globe. Sharing data from hundreds or even thousands of different locations, on different networks and devices that may not be secure, can pose an enormous threat to your operation if you do not take proper preventative action.
Organizations need to focus on innovation if they want to survive in this new digital environment. Security by design can help reduce potentially disastrous consequences caused by system breaches and data theft.
Travis Dillard is a business consultant and an organizational psychologist based in Arlington, Texas. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for DigitalStrategyOne.