top of page

Security Design Patterns

What is the meaning of design patterns?

A design pattern is the reusable form of a solution to a design problem. The idea was introduced by the architect Christopher Alexander and has been adapted for various other disciplines, particularly software engineering. A design pattern provides a general reusable solution for the common problems that occur. The pattern typically shows relationships and interactions between classes or objects. The idea is to speed up the development process by providing well-tested, proven development/design paradigms.


Solution to a security problem

A security pattern is a solution to a security problem, intended to control (stop or mitigate) a specific type of threat by defining a security mechanism, or a way to realize a security policy or regulation, applicable in a given context. The problem solved by the pattern is briefly described in its “Intent” section and elaborated in the “Problem” section. Security Patterns are the problem space of the corresponding applications, that can be expressed using domain models for specific knowledge areas. Patterns can be related to each other using pattern diagrams or more precisely through security solution frameworks.


Security patterns are classified as architecture patterns because they describe global architecture concepts, e.g., “what type of authentication is needed to control access for the users of a system?” A few of them can also (or instead) be considered as design patterns because they handle aspects of the security code of a component.


Patterns are used to defend against possible threats we can add patterns (or other artifacts), to define security mechanisms to express these restrictions. These patterns would include only the fundamental characteristics of the security mechanism, not including implementation aspects. Each pattern describes a problem that occurs over and over again in our environment, and then describes the core of the solution to that problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice


An implementation section provides guidelines on how to use the pattern, indicating what steps are needed, their possible realizations, and variants. A pattern’s name should describe “a design problem, its solutions, and consequences” in a few words. Naming a common design strategy gives developers a common vocabulary that facilitates communication during software development. While a pattern may be difficult to name, giving a clear name is crucial for communicating that pattern’s significance.

There is no automatic way to build patterns. It takes experience and abstraction ability to build them. Pattern builders build catalogs and designers use the catalogs to build systems.

Application of Security Design Patterns

A security design pattern represents a solution to a security problem. It is a building block for other developers creating, maintaining, or deploying software or systems. The following are ways by which security design patterns can be applied:

1. Security design patterns can provide security in software, computer systems, and networks.

2.  Security design patterns can be employed as other software or systems components during the development lifecycle.

3.  They provide solutions to well-known problems identified by the security community (computing standards organizations) during their research efforts.

4.  Security design patterns solve weaknesses that exist in existing systems and those newly developed ones.

5.  Security design patterns can be applied to software and computer systems as a Solution Architecture.

6. They can be included in designing an Internet Protocol (IP) network and other network security devices.

7. Security design patterns can be applied by building upon existing open source products to prevent the introduction of vulnerabilities and exploitations into those systems.

8. Security design patterns can be used for new products, developing new applications, or using existing application development techniques to create new applications with security in mind.

9. Security design patterns can be used to create a baseline for application testing before release and as part of a penetration test process.

10. Network security administrators can employ security design patterns to comply with industry standards and protocols.

bottom of page