Security by design means that software products and capabilities have been designed to be fundamentally secure. It has become a mainstream development approach in recent years to ensure security and privacy of the systems. Security architectural design solutions are based on widely known and popular strategies and patterns. These patterns offer solutions for reinforcing authentication, authorization, confidentiality, data integrity, privacy, accountability, availability, safety and non-repudiation requirements, even when the system is under attack. To make the system secure it is important both to create a robust security architecture and implement up-to-date security strategies and patterns. Security by design is a vitally important protection strategy against growing cyber risks, especially due to the fast growing IoT (Internet of Things) ‘world’ (by 2030 the number of devices connected to IoT is forecast to be up to 50 bln).
The main thing is that the security has to be integrated from the very beginning and the system needs ‘to fill the security gaps’ beginning at the conceptual design stage of the software architecture development.
Why is Security by design so important?
Security-by-design is the most successful method to prevent hacker attacks, ensuring safety during the production process. It begins early on during conceptual planning and continues throughout the development. At the concept stage, safety requirements are defined.
At the project phase, secure design architecture of the system or product is developed.
At the development stage, the code testing and scanning is performed, then the penetration testing is carried out at the test phase.
All those measures enhance the level of cyber security enormously and may make installation of expensive additional safety systems unnecessary.
There are several conditions for Security-by-design integration. First of all, it is necessary to invest in the security of each and every project. It would significantly raise the reliability and value of the product by offering clients safety assurance.
Secondly, Security-by-design requires the project to be open for manual penetration testing performed by independent experts. It guarantees that the projects and systems in question can resist cyber risks, already existing as well as newly emerging.
Finally, Secure-by-design principles demand a serious approach to promotion of cyber security, for instance, to minimize the risks of damage from cyber attacks.
Principles of security-by-design
- Principle of Least privilege. When the system stores sensitive information, the access to this information should be limited and restricted. Privileged access ensures that the damage done by attackers who have compromised the account is minimal.
- Principle of Separation of duties. It means that individual roles should not have much authority. If many tasks are performed by a single entity in the system, compromising this entity would mean compromising all these tasks at once.
- Principle of Defense in depth. Unlike the previous two principles, this one helps to prevent access to the system and its failure. It means setting up specific systems which would signal and inform about any security failures.
- Principle of Failing securely. A system designed with this principle in mind grants access only to specific parts of itself on request. In case of an error or a successful attack, the potential harm is thus limited.
- Principle of Open design. This principle means that the system security shouldn’t rely on the secrecy of its implementation. This is an important principle for security concepts. Well-designed examples of the implementations are open to the public. An attacker can find a bug which grants access to the system and to the source code. But if the system is secure by design, no matter if any villain gets this access.
- Principle of Avoiding security by obscurity. It is somehow similar to the previous principle. It lies in the sphere of ‘hard-coded secrets’ such as a username and a password. Once typing them in, the user gets access to the system. If the application requires a hidden administration URL, it does not remain secure. There should be sufficient security controls in place to keep the application safe without hiding core functionality or source code.
- Principle of Minimizing the attack surface area. The more features and sophistications are added to the application, the more risks and possibility for vulnerabilities appear. To reduce potential risks and the rate of successful attacks, the number of functions users have full access to should be limited.
And one more piece of advice is to ‘keep it simple’ (avoid sophisticated architecture), fix emerging issues thoroughly and on time and do testing frequently.
Launched in 2019 and based in Dubai, SmartState is one of the leading DeFi security auditing firms. We conduct security tests and check the code core, smart contracts and blockchain for all types of errors, vulnerabilities and other issues.
Although SmartState gave a start to operations with smart contract auditing of DLT-projects, from the very beginning, we made our services surpass the classic purview of smart contract audit and security testing. We specialize in manual testing, so the SmartState’s tech team of white-hat security professionals measure up a project’s git and offer guidelines and recommendations for its further advancement. Security audit reports review the threats and vulnerabilities with which codebases may be exploited in the future, as the network achieves scalability and expands to accommodate more use cases and functionality.
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