Security By Design Approach to manage Cyber risks

secure by design approach in cybersecurity to manage cyber risks

Security By Design Approach to manage Cyber risks

Organizations nowadays are very much aware that they need to adopt the latest technologies and innovate to be ahead of their competitors and be relevant in the market. But this eagerness to transform their systems and operations make them susceptible to many vulnerabilities and risks across their businesses.

With an extensive range of software and services at their disposal, the cyber attackers are waiting to pounce on these weak points and the motive of these actors for the data theft can be for a variety of reasons. The most apparent ramification of cyber-attacks is financial loss whether due to fraud, forced to pay compensation, missed revenue, etc. The target of these cyber-attacks is not limited to organizations but can also be governments since their systems are also online and are exposed to the same set of vulnerabilities as businesses. When people realize that their data and confidentiality is compromised with, it can have a far-reaching effect in them losing trust in the organizations they depend on.

Many organizations adopt a reactionary approach towards cybersecurity by responding only when a cyber-attack has occurred, or they have incurred fines or penalties and there is also an increasing trend where companies resort to adding security tools around existing systems instead of having security baked into new products and services based on prior business risks calculation. Realizing the inefficiencies in this approach, top management executives have realized the need for a new approach that will allow them to innovate confidently and at the same time minimize and manage the risks due to cyber-attacks. Security by design is a strategic, proactive, and practical approach that considers risks and security from the beginning of an initiative or product rather than adding it later and nurtures trust at every stage.

Advantages of Security by Design

In addition to securing data, Security By design offers the below advantages to organizations:

  1. Security By design helps organizations safeguard connected devices, sensitive and personal data as new applications and products are being developed
  2. Organizations are able to identify their existing vulnerabilities and security gaps early with the help of Security by Design thereby pre-empting problems that could have occurred later
  3. It increases trust of organizations in their own systems, data and information allowing them to confidently take on innovative projects
  4. Security by Design provides organizations the flexibility to modify system or configurations only when updates are required instead of every slight change

Principles of Security of Design

Following are the list of Security of Design principles which if followed will help organizations secure their applications and significantly reduce the risk of a successful cyber-attack:

1. Minimise the attack surface area

Every time a programmer adds a feature to the application, the risk of security vulnerability increases. The principle of minimizing attack surface area restricts the functions that users are allowed to access, to reduce potential vulnerabilities. The programmer while developing the application should do it in such a way that access to functionalities are limited to registered users thereby reducing the attack surface and the risk of a successful attack.

2. Providing least privilege

Users should only have the minimum power required to complete a particular task. For example, if a user is supposed to do only some updates in a website, that user should not have administrative rights such as adding and removing users.

3. Validate inputs

Every field should only allow the characters/numbers that meet the specifications. This will help prevent cyber-attacks by ignoring everything that the field should accept.

4. Separate systems

Hackers move from one system to another after performing an attack. Therefore, systems should be separated from one another. For example, the webserver and database should be in separate systems so that if a web server is hacked, the attacker is still far from the database.

5. Confidential data should be encrypted

With data nowadays being increasingly stored in cloud, organizations do not have full control over data storage and processing. Hence, it is important to encrypt all confidential data so that even if the hacker has access to the system, he will not be able to access the encrypted data.

6. Update and test regularly

Systems need to be updated with the latest versions so that the security gaps in earlier versions can be plugged. Security and vulnerability of systems must be reviewed through security checks.

7. Defence in depth

This method incorporates multiple ways to make a product secure from a security perspective. For example, for fund transfer, certain banking websites in addition to asking users to enter their login credentials also ask the one-time pin (OTP) sent to the mobile to be entered. The fund transfer process also implements an IP address check and brute-force detection.

8. Third-party Services should not be trusted

Web applications that depend on third-party services for additional functionality/data should always check the validity of the data that these services provide and not give high-level permissions to these services within the application.

9. Keep security simple

Architecture should be simple when developing security controls for the application. Complex systems are difficult to correct when errors occur, and troubleshooting can be time-consuming which provides an opportunity for cybercriminals to exploit thereby putting the application at more risk.


Organizations have realized that cyber-attacks will continue to be present in an increasingly digital world and the need for a different approach to protecting their valuable systems. This calls for security to be built into products from the beginning and not as a rethink. To know more about Security By design approach, talk to our experts.


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