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15 Security Design Principles You Need to know!

Technology today is ever evolving, hackers on the other hand are also busy at work developing cutting-edge ways to nullify cybersecurity. Businesses often expose themselves to risks and vulnerabilities when implementing or testing new technologies. These risks and vulnerabilities brought on by new technologies can often times have severe financial implications. As of 2022, the average cost of a data breach is expected to reach $9.44 million in the United States.

Traditional Vulnerability Assessments and Penetration Tests are no longer enough to secure any enterprise from cyber-attacks. In this regard, security by design can prove to be the right approach when building or changing cloud, IT infrastructure and systems, networks, and software development.

In this article, we will discuss Security by Design (SbD), why organizations should implement it, and security design principles.

What is Security by Design?

In today’s rapidly changing technology, Security by Design has become crucial as any and all technology is made to be integrated over the internet. This technology can lead to cyber-attacks within an organization if they are left vulnerable or unsecured. Among the significant challenges to these changes is that most organizations do not consider security at the start of production design, however, wait until the end or not at all, leaving organizations vulnerable.

Security by Design is an approach to architecture development where security is implemented at the beginning and during the design lifecycle rather than at the end of development.

Why Should You Include Security by Design from the Start?

The main goal of implementing a Security by Design approach at the beginning of development or implementation is to reduce threats and vulnerabilities as much as possible through continuous testing measures, authentication safeguards, and following best practices. The reasons to include Security by Design from the start are given below.

● Implementing security from the beginning helps reduce costs and mitigate risks. By waiting to add security at the end of development, the time pressure and budget constraints are usually heavy, and adding security becomes a hasty addition as a quick fix that does not end well.

● Security by Design helps integrate several measures (awareness, tools, knowledge, and security checks) from the start, allowing businesses to remove security flaws effectively instead of testing for them at the end of development.

● Determining errors from the beginning helps you to enhance the development process and prevent further errors.

What is a Security by Design Principle?

We define security by design principle as a declarative statement made with the intention to guide security design decisions to meet the goals of securing a component or system.

Security Design Principles

The following are key security design principles that will work in various types of system development.

Asset (Data) Clarification

Asset Clarification helps organizations secure assets (either data or resources) based on their level of sensitivity. It helps identify data that need a higher level of security and must be protected.

Understanding Attackers

With time, attackers are becoming smart and identifying new ways to attack businesses. Understand the motives behind their targeted attacks and what resources they might use to ensure a successful attack.

Find the Weakest Link

Determine the weakest link in your security architecture that may be vulnerable to attacks. They can be devices, resources, or even humans. Identify them and ensure a strong cyber defense posture in your organization.

Understand the Architecture

Understand your security architecture and make security policies, methods, and models that suit your organization. Identify what security controls and safeguards you need for your security posture and align them with your objectives.

Minimize Attack Surface Area

Minimizing attack surface area means removing parts of your system or software that you find vulnerable or insecure. These are areas where your system is the most vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

Establish Secure Defaults

The principle of secure default refers to setting the default configuration of your system restrictive to enforce conservative security policies. It means that, by default, the configuration is at the most secure settings possible.

Assign the Least Privilege Possible

The Principle of Least Privilege states that a subject should be given only those privileges needed for it to complete its task. If a subject does not need an access right, the subject should not have that right.

Focus on Defense in Depth

Defense in depth means making a strategy leveraging various security controls to protect organizations' assets. Focus on defense in depth so that if somehow defense is compromised, additional layers of security exist as a backup to stop threats.

Fail Securely

The principle of failing securely refers to the need to secure systems by recognizing the fact that security may fail. Even if failed security grants access to the systems, sensitive parts of your system will remain inaccessible.

Zero Trust

Today many businesses depend on third-party service providers for additional functionality and effective operations. Security by Design ensures no user or application is trusted by default.

Separation of Duties

The idea behind the principle of Separation of Duties comes from the principle of least privilege. However, it is more focused on not granting too much authority to a single person. A person having too many permissions can become a liability in system security. Therefore, users must be given limited duties, so they don’t fall apart and affect security operations.

Avoid Security by Obscurity

Security by Obscurity isn't an effective method as it focuses on hiding the details of security operations. It relies on the account's credentials remaining a secret. Users may gain access to those accounts over time. It is safer for companies to avoid this practice and implement effective security controls alongside.

Keep Security Simple

As IT environments become more complex, the solution to secure them is simple security. Keep information security simple to ensure everyone in the organization understands it and less time and effort are used to implement security.

Fix Security Issues Correctly

This principle focuses on the need to address security issues thoroughly and accurately to determine the root cause of the problem. Developers and system engineers must fix security issues correctly to minimize their recurrence.

Audit Sensitive Events

Auditing sensitive events will help organizations to identify intrusion attempts and to determine the best possible way to reduce those events in the future.

Build Security by Design into Your Organization with ISA United!

Today’s cyber threat landscape demands a higher level of security and effective controls to protect organizations against cyber-attacks. Risk management and vulnerability management are no longer sufficient to ensure the effectiveness of security measures. Organizations need security by design to build security into their architecture right from the start.


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