The cybersecurity battle is ongoing and evolving every day. Hackers are committed to conquering challenging programs and finding the smallest flaws in business systems. While cybersecurity professionals are continually attempting to block these bad actors, identify any flaws in their systems first, and fix them to prevent future attacks.
In spite of this cyber war and in an effort to be first to market, many companies still rush their products out while ignoring proper security integration during development which can lead to disastrous side effects for businesses. Costing them valuable data, reputation, money and time to amend their product weaknesses. Companies can spend a great deal of time and money developing security patches, repeatedly rolling back and implementing updates, and buying other technologies to secure their own offering. This cycle can potentially continue for years releasing cures to the latest aliments while fearing the next hit.
Cybersecurity professionals recommend that companies would be better served to consider security from the start of their development rather than trying to implement it after-the-fact. There are a few valuable things to consider that would secure a businesses’ product offering from the onset.
Know Your Code
Development and security are two different things that need to be done at the same time. Learning how to develop systems and writing code just supports the creation of a product that works and serves its purpose. Frequently, developers use code libraries and open API platforms that they adjust to meet their needs. Using these types of code can be helpful to get a product to market quickly. But becomes detrimental when they are hacked, and their information is exposed affecting their systems, customers and their reputation because they didn’t consider the security vulnerabilities.
Building a Strong Team
To create better cybersecurity practices from the beginning starts with building a great team. It's critical to have a cybersecurity expert and strong developers on your team. This security expert must understand cyberattack vectors and the different ways to implement them and be involved in the development process from the initial stage of the project to guide the team.
Integrating security into the planning, requirement gathering and analysis phases of development are crucial to preventing future cyberattacks. Security must be taken into consideration while defining the scope, tasks, use cases, efforts needed and structure required for the product to succeed. Identifying these concerns and considering security measures significantly impacts the next steps of development and the final product. Using the right implementations spare the company from the headache of trying to mitigate exposed vulnerabilities and updating all of their endpoints.
Security in Design
During the design phase, security must be reviewed when choosing technologies, coding methodologies, integration of databases and the use of third parties. Usually, the phase of choosing technologies would mostly concentrate on their benefits to a company's goals and overall efficiency, but security must be one of the first concerns to secure the future potential of the product. Common security questions that should be asked when considering using these technologies include:
- Does this technology have security features, and how well are they implemented?
- What is the most secure way to integrate and extend this technology in our system?
- Does this technology contain vulnerable code that may be a risk to our business or customers?
- Has this technology been tested and approved by a trusted third-party cybersecurity unit?
The design phase should also include designing security operations, such as backup and recovery procedures, access controls, audit logs, authentication methods, encryption, error handling and more.
Education & Ethical Hacking Tests
Having the first steps well implemented will better support the development phase in securing a companies' product and business. It's crucial to support teams with continuing education programs to enhance their awareness of security threats. Developers should be aware of previous cyberattacks, current vulnerabilities and how their coding could affect the company and its customers. The best defense is educating companies' developers to think like hackers.
Another way to train a business’s teams while securing their code is to continually implement tests, like code reviews and analyzing the results. These are simple activities that contribute both to awareness and a system’s security. Testing should be an ongoing activity throughout development, final installation and beyond. This type of testing is best executed by third parties, such as security consultants and ethical hackers, continually testing a business’s systems and products for security flaws. These hacking tests assure company security and immunity against threats in the real world.
Having the burden of these security concerns lifted from the beginning of development would save companies' money, stress and damage to their reputations in the future and support their ongoing activities.
This article originally ran in Today’s Cybersecurity Leader, a monthly cybersecurity-focused eNewsletter for security end users, brought to you by Security Magazine. Subscribe here.