Security by design: A principle to effectively secure digital infrastructure

In recent years, there has been an increasing number of high-profile data breaches that have
left companies and their customers vulnerable to cybercriminals. Flutterwave, one of Africa’s
leading payments companies, was recently involved in a security breach that resulted in more
than ₦2.9 billion, equivalent to roughly $4.2 million stolen from its accounts. The hack, which
occurred in early February 23, involved unknown actors who managed to transfer the funds
across 107 accounts. Thankfully, Flutterwave was able to detect the security breach and file a
lawsuit to aid further investigation of the fraud beneficiaries.

Flutterwave’s breach highlights the importance of security by design – a methodology that
integrates security measures into the design and development process of a product or service.
By prioritizing security from the beginning, companies can reduce the risk of cyber-attacks and
protect their customers’ sensitive information.

In Flutterwave’s case, the security breach raised questions about the adequacy of its security
measures. This only proves the need for every organization to constantly review and update
digital infrastructure security to keep up with emerging threats.

Why should your organization adopt security by design?

Security by design is essential for every forward-thinking organization. Every business should
have security embedded into their business, no matter how small the business is. If security
isn’t part of your small business, it becomes harder to adopt security as your organization
grows.

It is important to note that every business has different security needs. A social media agency
can get by with password managers, a secure drive to store sensitive files, security awareness
training and anti-phishing for email security. However, the security needs of a telehealth or
fintech enterprise is a different ball game entirely.

Regardless of the size of your organization, here are six (6) key components of security by
design to consider:

  1. Threat modeling
    Threat modeling involves identifying and communicating information about the threats
    that may impact a particular system or network and can also aid in securing the
    processes your organization depends on. Because of its versatility, threat modeling
    provides an organization with a veritable cyber navy, protecting your organization from
    a variety of threat vectors.
  1. Risk Assessment
    Who is responsible for assessing risks associated with your organization’s digital
    infrastructure? Risk assessment is a continuous process that involves evaluating the
    likelihood and potential impact of identified threats and vulnerabilities. This helps your
    organization to prioritize security measures and allocate resources effectively.
  2. Secure Coding Practices
    Secure coding practices enforces writing code that is secure by default through
    techniques such as input validation, error handling, and encryption to protect against
    common vulnerabilities such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and buffer
    overflows. Can you tell if your applications have outdated libraries or insecure code?
    If your answer is no, there’s work to be done.
  3. Security Testing
    Hackers do not have superpowers. They simply take advantage of existing
    vulnerabilities to wreak havoc. Security testing can help your organization keep hackers
    at arm’s length. It involves testing systems, products, and services for vulnerabilities
    and weaknesses using techniques such as penetration testing, vulnerability scanning,
    and code review.
  4. Compliance
    Are you aware of security standards for your industry? Compliance involves adhering
    to relevant regulations and standards related to data protection and security as it
    concerns your industry. Some widely adopted standards include Payment Card Industry
    Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and the General Data Protection Regulation
    (GDPR).
  5. Continuous Monitoring
    If you organization gets breached, would you be able to tell? Continuous monitoring
    involves ongoing monitoring and analysis of systems, products, and services for
    potential security threats and vulnerabilities. This allows your organization to detect
    and respond to security incidents in real time.

    By integrating these key components into the design, development, and deployment process,
    your organization can create systems, products, and services that are secure by design.
    Irrespective of what your business is, we can help you with your security needs. From design
    to deployment, we’ve got you covered!
    To get started, send an email to info@hacktales.com.ng

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