“Secure By Design” Cybersecurity Practices: Why It Matters

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“Secure By Design” Cybersecurity Practices: Why It Matters

Did you know that last week, cybercriminals hacked a small family-owned builder?[1] Or a small car dealership was attacked due to poor passwords?[2] It’s easy to think that cyber threats only exist for large companies like Subway or Dymocks.

However, cybersecurity is a critical foundation on which businesses, no matter their size, must rely. The implications of cyberattacks can have far-reaching and long-term consequences that may include significant financial losses, reputational damage, and the compromise of sensitive data.

Cyberattacks continue to surge. In 2022, IoT malware attacks witnessed an alarming 87% increase, indicating the escalating threat landscape. The growth in attacks is attributed mainly to cybercriminals’ malicious use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). These sobering statistics serve as a stern reminder of the ever-present danger of cyber threats.

In response to this evolving threat landscape, organisations must transition from a reactive approach to cybersecurity to a proactive one. One such approach that has gained prominence in this context is the adoption of “Secure by Design” practices.

International partners have taken significant steps to address commonly exploited security vulnerabilities. A recent advisory has underscored the importance of Secure by Design principles in fortifying our cyber defenses. This collaborative effort highlights the global nature of the cybersecurity threat landscape and emphasises the need for coordinated action to safeguard critical infrastructure against cyberattacks.

What cyber threats exist today?

Over the years, cybersecurity threats have significantly transformed. It is no longer sufficient to install just antivirus software to protect your computer. Modern cybercriminals employ highly sophisticated tactics and techniques, and the potential impact of a cyberattack goes far beyond the inconvenience of dealing with a virus.

Modern cyber threats encompass many attack vectors, including:

  • Ransomware – Malware encrypts data and demands a ransom for the decryption key. It is widely considered one of the most costly types of attacks for businesses due to the potential financial losses incurred.
  • Phishing – Deceptive emails or messages that trick recipients into revealing sensitive information. Shockingly, 83% of companies experience a phishing attack every year, highlighting the prevalence of this threat.
  • Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are long-term cyberattacks aimed at infiltrating systems and stealing sensitive data. Their stealthy and persistent nature characterises them.
  • Zero-day exploits – These attacks target vulnerabilities yet to be known to software developers, making them particularly challenging to defend against.
  • Internet-of-Things (IoT) vulnerabilities – Cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities in IoT devices to compromise networks, underscoring the need for robust security in this interconnected era.

These evolving threats underscore the critical need for a proactive approach to cybersecurity. Instead of reacting to attacks after they occur, you should take steps to prevent them from happening in the first place.

Secure by Design: Explained

Secure by Design is a modern cybersecurity approach that focuses on integrating security measures into the foundation of a system, application, or device from the outset. It’s about considering security as a fundamental aspect of the development process rather than treating it as a feature that can be added later.

Businesses of all sizes can incorporate the Secure by Design approach into their cybersecurity strategies in two key ways:

Selecting vendors

When purchasing hardware or software, inquire about the vendor’s adherence to Secure by Design principles. Does the supplier implement these practices from the initial stages of product development? If not, consider alternative vendors who prioritise security from the outset.

Internal Implementation

Incorporate Secure by Design principles into your business operations. Whether planning an infrastructure upgrade or enhancing customer service, place cybersecurity at the core of these initiatives rather than treating it as an afterthought.

You should include fundamental principles of Secure by Design:

  • Risk Assessment – Identifying potential security risks and vulnerabilities early in the design phase to mitigate them effectively.
  • Standard Framework- Maintaining consistency when applying security standards by following a recognised framework, such as CIS Critical Security Controls, HIPAA, or GDPR.
  • Least Privilege – Limiting access to resources to only those individuals who require it for their specific roles, minimising potential vulnerabilities caused by excessive access.
  • Defence in Depth – Implementing multiple layers of security to protect against various threats makes it more challenging for attackers to breach your systems.
  • Regular Updates – Ensuring that security measures are continuously updated to address emerging threats and vulnerabilities.
  • User Education – Educating users about security best practices and potential risks to enhance their awareness and vigilance.

Secure by Design: Why it matters

Understanding and implementing Secure by Design practices is crucial for several reasons:

Proactive security

Traditional cybersecurity approaches often follow a reactive model, addressing security issues only after they have occurred. In contrast, Secure by Design builds security measures into the very foundation of a system, reducing vulnerabilities from the start and helping prevent breaches.

Cost savings

Addressing security issues after a system is in production can be costly. Integrating security from the beginning helps avoid these extra expenses.

Regulatory compliance

Secure by Design practices can help businesses meet regulatory requirements and compliance standards more effectively, reducing the risk of unforeseen issues that result in fines and penalties.

Reputation management

A security breach can severely damage your organisation’s reputation. Implementing Secure by Design practices demonstrates your commitment to protecting user data and enhances trust among customers and stakeholders.


Secure by Design practices ensure that your systems and applications remain resilient and adaptable, capable of withstanding emerging threats effectively.

Minimising attack surfaces

Secure by Design focuses on reducing the attack surface of your systems by identifying and mitigating potential vulnerabilities early in the development process. This proactive approach minimises the opportunities for hackers to exploit security weaknesses, helping safeguard your organisation’s digital assets effectively.

Melbourne business owners: When did you last update your cybersecurity strategy?

“Secure by Design” practices have emerged as a proactive approach to safeguarding your business against modern cyber threats. By integrating security measures into the foundation of your systems, applications, and devices, you can reduce vulnerabilities and mitigate risks from the outset.

Let us help you implement “Secure by Design” principles by booking a consultation session.

[1] Source:https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-10-15/cyber-threats-hackers-steal-million-dollars-small-business/102789994

[2] Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-06-08/small-business-owner-warns-others-to-look-after-passwords/102454318

About the author

Yener is the founder and Managing Director of Intuitive IT. Prior to running his own business Yener worked for a number of corporate organisations where he gained invaluable experience and skills, as well as an understanding of how IT can complement and improve business outcomes.