Software is integral to the day-to-day operations of almost all businesses. This dependence brings the security of the technology used into sharp focus: while major cyber attacks may dominate the headlines, these breaches are inevitably born out of insecure initial design. Businesses know they need to create secure software - long gone are the days of retrofitting security with secure design increasingly a regulatory necessity.
The regulatory shift
There have been some positive developments in terms of bringing regulations in line with better security design. Whether it be President Biden’s Executive Order on ensuring the responsible development of digital assets, NIST SSDF or the listing of Insecure Design as number four of 10 in OWASP’s standard awareness document, secure software design is front and centre of developers’ minds. These considerations are rippling across the globe and show no signs of slowing down.
By making mitigating against risks mandatory, and not just a sensible thing to do, a culture is being created within software development where secure design is automatic, rather than an afterthought. The obvious tool for achieving secure design is threat modeling. This enables developers to ‘shift left’, or indeed ‘start left’ by mapping out potential threats early in the software development life cycle (SDLC).
The power of early intervention
Securing software is of course not without costs: there are the literal financial costs of the process, but these of course pale in comparison to the potential costs of insecure design and a breach. Time is another factor, securing software can add to an already heavy developer workload, but with the proliferation of automated threat modeling tools this process is becoming very streamlined. In addition, the reality of securing software is that the process is never finished - software is updated, security protocols change - but if the core original software is fundamentally secure, this should be straightforward.
However, the benefits of secure software massively outweigh these considerations. Implementing a culture of secure software design, once set, can have truly tangible benefits for developer time and resources. Whatsmore, organizations can be confident in the security of their software as it comes into use, knowing that it will be resilient to breaches and consistently deliver upon what it’s been designed to.
Building a more secure future
As regulations increasingly demand secure design, there’s never been a better time to ensure the entire SDLC is de-risked. With cyber attacks increasing in both frequency and potency, organizations cannot afford for security to be a retrospective consideration: it must be factored from the offset. In doing so, business can give developers the tools to expedite their software development process, which can only be good for a business's bottom line. The time is now for secure design. Organizations need to make it an integral part of their software process and unlock secure and sustainable growth.