Why cybersecurity is important for business
Cybersecurity: a tough reality
Cybersecurity is, by nature, a negative asset. As with any protective measure, one of the biggest challenges is to measure the value (or return on investment, ROI) of cybersecurity. It is even more difficult to get stakeholders – customers, users, and decision-makers – in the company to understand its value. This is because when everything is going well, the investment in cybersecurity doesn’t seem to be justified. When disaster strikes and you’re under attack, however, it’s too late to think about fixing problems, and that’s when the blame game begins.
Companies targeted by attacks generally focus on putting out the fires – that is, patching the obvious holes and recovering business operations.
Not only is security a negative asset, it is also a preventive one.
The investment made in security only shows its value after the defenses catch a major attack, or when companies successfully pass a strict business audit thanks to proper measures. In general, the task of the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), or any other security leader for that matter, is quite difficult, because they need to prepare for the inevitable without any substantial evidence to justify the budget.
Taking this into consideration, it is not surprising to see many argue that security is, in general, a dismal industry that doesn’t provide any real value for consumers, yet demands a great deal of resources.
And yet, security is a must.
In the early days of any industry, security usually isn’t a part of the product. When cars were first introduced, the emphasis was on functionality. Yet just a few years after the first car hit the market, the first car was also stolen, and suddenly security became an issue, prompting the invention of the car alarm in response.
Similarly, the Internet was not designed with security in mind, as it was initially a closed and trusted network for researchers.
As with any technology, once the major features are built and adoption is wide-spread, safety, reliability, and security become much more important issues.
The problem here is that security is often only an afterthought used to solve point in time problems.
As technology evolves, security solutions need to be replaced. Many argue that security should no longer be a bolt-on solution, but rather a part of product design and development from the very beginning.
Why cybersecurity is important for business
It is imperative that all participants in software product design work together to break this cycle. Software developers need to build systems that are secure by design (especially in web application security and secure coding).
We need to understand that cybersecurity teams can add immense value to the business if they are treated as internal consultants and value centers, not as a cost center. The major problem is that developers and product managers need cybersecurity to be seamlessly integrated with product development.
- First, cybersecurity teams can and should be present during the design stage of any product. Product and developer teams should consider cybersecurity as a feature. It starts with threat modeling and continues with secure architecture design. Having security integrated into the development process helps developers start thinking more rigorously about their code, thus reducing debugging time significantly.
- Second, security teams need to design security guardrails for developers’ current development process. This typically means having internal tools and processes to keep the developers from committing obvious mistakes and letting them strengthen software by default. One example of this is how Repokid implements least privileged access by removing unused access permissions automatically.
- Security can actually increase sales and business results. The report “Cyber Security, The New Source of Competitive Advantage for Retailers” by Capgemini showed an increase in consumer confidence for companies that implemented (and communicated) proper cybersecurity measures. For developer teams, it is often a business need to deliver a secure product that will withstand the subsequent pentests.
- Security teams must be empowered to flag the gaps in cybersecurity skills within the organization, and to facilitate a solid learning culture by setting up access to security code reviews, holding security workshops and training for developers, and most importantly, motivating security contributions by all developer teams within the organization.
Make security requirements a feature
The fundamental building block of secure product design is to make security requirements a feature: apply security by design, make security guardrails for the software delivery processes, and finally, build a security-aware developer culture.
Implementing security into the earliest stage of development can lead to a broader security-first mindset within the entire organization. To improve security skills, practice-oriented training is a great tool. With the right solution, you can fill the missing gaps, increase knowledge, and most importantly, you can take the first step towards a strong line of defense against external threats.
Avatao provides a secure coding platform where you learn and practice through exercises based on real-life scenarios. You can read about our company background, mission and more in a recent interview with our CTO Gábor Pék, made by Safety Detectives. Besides what Avatao offers, Gábor also discusses what he thinks as the worst cyberthreat is today.
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