Understanding the Secure by Design Principles



Secure by Design Principles

Traditionally, “successful” cyber security approaches and implementation have been evidenced by attaining accreditation. This method, however, enables cyber security to be viewed as a bolt-on aspect or an afterthought in system design.

Secure by Design, the MOD’s new approach to cyber risk management, advocates for a more holistic approach, integrating cyber security risk management into every aspect of a system’s life cycle, from the ground up. The goal is to create systems that are inherently secure, usable, trustworthy, and resilient to cyber-attacks, rather than retrofitting security measures onto an existing framework.

The Secure by Design principles

The concept of Secure by Design signals a fundamental change in managing cyber threats, which is crucial for securing critical government services now and in the future. As used by the MOD, cyber security measures like Secure by Design are the first step to protecting your organisation against digital threats.

The key principles of Secure by Design are:

A whole team approach

  • Unlike the previous model where individuals could be responsible for security, Secure by Design calls for collective responsibility. It involves a cross-functional team approach, encompassing senior management, commercial teams, project managers, product teams, and suppliers.

Continual risk management

Secure systems engineering

  • Security is recognised as an engineering challenge. This means analysing and designing out security risks using secure system engineering techniques, considering a range of factors like cost, legacy systems, performance, user experience, and safety.

Evidence-based assurance

  • Moving away from accreditation, the focus turns to developing assurance cases based on evidence generated throughout the project lifecycle. This ensures that security objectives are met and continuously maintained.

Integrated security

  • Security is interwoven with system development processes, ensuring it is a fundamental consideration in system architecture and design, rather than a separate element.

Challenges and Implementation

Adopting Secure by Design is not without its challenges. It requires a business to take on a significant mindset shift, moving away from the comfort of accreditation certificates to a model where security is an integral part of system design and management.

This change involves balancing principles-based approaches with industry-specific standards. There is also the challenge of overcoming potential resistance due to the complexity of this paradigm shift.

However, the benefits are clear. Incorporating Secure by Design leads to the development of systems that are inherently more secure, functional, and resilient. It offers a more comprehensive and effective defence against cyber threats by embedding security into every stage of the system development and lifecycle.

Secure by Design and Compliance

While Secure by Design differs from traditional compliance models, it does not replace them. Instead, it enhances and complements these standards. The approach enables government departments and other organisations to leverage standards like ISO 27001 more effectively within their operational contexts, ensuring both compliance and enhanced security.

In conclusion, the principles of Secure by Design represent a forward-thinking, comprehensive approach to cyber security. It demands a significant change in how organisations view and manage cyber threats, emphasising the importance of integrating security considerations into every aspect of system design and operation. Despite the potential challenges, its adoption is a necessary step towards building more secure systems in an increasingly complex cyber landscape.

Ready To Start Your Secure By Design Journey?

As a leading cyber security consultancy that has helped to develop Secure by Design, Logiq can assist you on your journey to continual risk management and allow you to implement security from top to bottom. To speak to a member of the team, contact us via email contact@logiqconsulting.co.uk or call 0117 457 7463.