Security First

Systems will be designed and maintained with the assumption that they will be attacked and possibly compromised by anybody.

Rationale

The cost of handling a security breach1 is significantly greater than the cost of hardening the system in the first place. If a breach does occur, we can minimise the scale and cost by detecting it as soon as possible, and having a well-planned response enables a fast time to close the breach and assess its impact.

By focussing on security from the beginning we mitigate not only the financial impact but also the reputational impact that would be incurred in the event of a breach.

Implications

  • Teams should be aware of data privacy implications including policy and legal compliance
  • Teams understand the security risks and model threat vectors
  • Data will need to be secured both in transit and at rest.
  • People at all points of the engineering process need strong awareness of security techniques and principles, and should apply these throughout the lifecycle of the software
  • We will use the OWASP guidelines for software development as starting point to help people understand potential attack vectors and mitigation techniques.
  • A framework is needed to classify systems and their data to determine the appropriate level of inspection and audit; this level may change as the system evolves. link required - does anyone know if this exists?
  • Automated vulnerability analysis tools can help identify vulnerabilities but are not a replacement for a Security-First approach
  • All HTTP communication should be done over SSL
  • The system should be able to detect attacks
  • Teams should have a clear strategy in place to respond to attacks and data breaches

1. A 2015 survey found the average security breach costs a large organisation £1.46 - £3.14 million (source).

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