Secure by Design: An Evolution in Cyber Security

Secure by Design can be defined as the practice of integrating security measures into the design and development of systems, and technologies from the outset rather than as an afterthought. Critically, the practice addresses cyber security threats and vulnerabilities, a major insight to any company that implements this.

Understanding Secure By Design:

The concept aims to address cyber security risks proactively rather than reactively, by identifying and mitigating potential vulnerabilities during the design phase. Furthermore, it also advocates for an overall change to security and risk assessment, being considered through life rather than point in time assessments such as annual penetration testing and subsequent remediation. There are clear benefits to Secure by Design, for example:

  • Enhancing resilience against cyber threats, through building security into the core of architecture of systems and applications.
  • Addressing security concerns early on also results in reduced vulnerabilities and potential attack surfaces, thus minimising the likelihood of a successful cyber attack.
  • It could lead to lower long-term security costs. By addressing security issues during the design phase and early on, it could be far more cost-effective than retrofitting security controls later in the development process.
Nine23’s Approach to Secure by Design and Why it Matters to You:

At Nine23, we pride ourselves on enabling your team to use technology securely, specialising in UK Sovereign Private Cloud, Cyber Security and Managed IT Services. As a part of this, we have wrapped our ethos and the model on which the business is based around Secure by Design, and have been successfully using this for years, especially at higher levels where technology and process need to address higher level of threat, sensitivity and capability.

Nine23 implement methodologies such as threat modelling, risk assessment, and security architecture reviews to ensure Secure by Design principles are integrated into its solutions and services. It is vitally important to integrate security measures throughout the development process, including development and maintenance, to maintain the integrity and resilience of systems and appliances.

We approach Secure by Design, by going beyond traditional accreditation processes, by embedding security considerations throughout the entire lifecycle of a solution. Secure by Design enables ongoing assessment of threats and mitigation of risks, moving away from ‘point-in-time’ assessments such as accreditation and annual security health checks. Designing solutions with security in mind from the beginning is not only good practice, but also essential for ensuring the long-term security and resilience of systems and applications.

The practical aspects of implementing a Secure by Design approach, including Defence measures, are currently evolving as this is still a relatively new approach. While not all aspects are fully matured yet, at Nine23, we have been actively collaborating with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and a major prime contractor in the Defence sector to develop an operational capability for a Tier 2 Defence program, being one of the first to fully adopt the ShD processes. We are nearing the completion of this operational capability, marking a significant milestone in our joint efforts.

There has also been a notable alignment with the principles promoted by the cabinet as part of a cross-government policy. This alignment emphasises the importance of Secure by Design principles, which are already being embraced by the Defence community. It’s encouraging to see that these principles are gaining traction across various sectors, indicating a growing consensus on their value.

The Cabinet Office released a statement in May 2023, highlighting the “necessity” of Secure by Design in multiple strategies, which “reinforce the need of embedding cyber security into the delivery of digital services – at every stage. This correlates with the statements released by MOD that “Teams must own the cyber security risk of their capabilities from concept to disposal and manage it effectively through the lifecycle of the capability.” Clearly, this is essential for all companies to be aware of, in order to not only gain insight into, but also stay ahead of the ever-moving best practices, policies and industry standards.

Thought Leadership in Cyber Security:

Secure by Design emphasises a holistic nature as a comprehensive approach to cyber security, covering the entire process from inception to deployment. It is vitally important to address cyber security threats and developing risk strategies from the outset of a project, to inform subsequent requirements and design decisions. The role of cyber advisory services come into play here, in guiding organisations to incorporate security considerations early in the development process. Integrating cyber security measures from the beginning helps to build a solid foundation for secure systems and applications, reducing vulnerabilities and improving resilience against cyber threats, thereby enhancing cyber security posture and mitigating risks efficiently.

In the ever-evolving landscape of cyber security, the adoption of a Secure by Design approach is a practical and proactive step to defence against cyber threats and an alignment of policy across HMG. As shown throughout, Secure by Design encompasses the essence of integrating security measures at the very foundation of system development, thereby fortifying resilience against potential vulnerabilities.

At Nine23, our commitment to Secure by Design extends beyond mere rhetoric; it folds into every facet of our ethos and operational framework. Through strategic collaborations with esteemed partners and proactive engagement with regulatory bodies, we endeavour to pave the way for a secure digital future.

As we navigate the dynamic terrain of cyber security, it is imperative to recognise the collective responsibility shared by industry stakeholders in championing Secure by Design principles. Join us in shaping a future where security is not just a goal, but a fundamental base, guiding every digital endeavour. If you would like to discuss or share this experience, at Nine23, we invite you to reach out to us.

Together, we can forge a path towards a safer, more resilient digital ecosystem, where security is not an afterthought, but an integral component woven into the fabric of technological innovation.

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