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Addressing Secure by Design, Security Requirements, Controls, Gaps, and Standards

Addressing Secure by Design

Creating secure products is crucial in today’s digital landscape. Ensuring products are secure by design involves integrating security measures from the outset of the development process. This guide explores how to achieve secure by design results by focusing on security requirements, implementing necessary controls, identifying and addressing security gaps, and adhering to relevant standards to maintain low risk before moving to production.

Security Requirements in Product Security

Identifying Security Requirements

Security requirements are the foundation of a secure product design. Identifying these requirements involves understanding the potential threats and vulnerabilities specific to the product and its environment.

  • Threat Modeling: Conduct a thorough threat modeling exercise to identify potential threats. This process involves mapping out the product’s architecture, identifying critical assets, and analyzing potential attack vectors.
  • Risk Assessment: Evaluate the risks associated with each identified threat and prioritize them based on their potential impact and likelihood. This helps allocate resources effectively to mitigate the most significant risks.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Ensure that the product meets all relevant regulatory and compliance requirements. This includes industry-specific regulations and general data protection laws like GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA etc

Common Security Requirements

  • Authentication and Authorization: Implement robust mechanisms to ensure that only authorized users can access the system. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) and role-based access control (RBAC) are essential components.
  • Data Protection: Ensure data is protected both at rest and in transit through encryption. Use strong encryption protocols such as AES for data at rest and TLS for data in transit.
  • Integrity Verification: Implement mechanisms to verify the integrity of data and software. This includes using digital signatures and checksums to detect tampering.
  • Availability: Ensure the product can maintain availability even under attack. This involves implementing redundancy and failover mechanisms to mitigate denial-of-service (DoS) attacks.
  • Audit Logging: Maintain detailed logs of security-related events. These logs should be protected from tampering and used for monitoring and forensic analysis.

Implementing Security Controls

Once security requirements are identified, appropriate controls must be implemented to mitigate risks.

Types of Security Controls

  • Preventive Controls: These controls are designed to prevent security incidents. Examples include firewalls, access controls, and secure coding practices.
  • Detective Controls: These controls detect security incidents. Examples include intrusion detection systems (IDS), security information and event management (SIEM) systems, and audit logs.
  • Corrective Controls: These controls respond to and recover from security incidents. Examples include incident response plans, data backup, and recovery procedures.

Best Practices for Implementing Controls

  • Secure Development Lifecycle (SDLC): Integrate security into every phase of the development lifecycle, from planning and design to testing and deployment. This ensures that security is considered at every step.
  • Least Privilege Principle: Ensure that users and systems have the minimum level of access necessary to perform their functions. This reduces the potential damage from compromised accounts or systems.
  • Regular Updates and Patch Management: Keep software and systems updated with the latest security patches. Regular updates help protect against known vulnerabilities.
  • Continuous Monitoring: Implement continuous monitoring to detect and respond to security incidents in real-time. This includes using automated tools and manual reviews.

Identifying and Addressing Security Gaps

Conducting Security Assessments

Regular security assessments are essential to identify and address security gaps.

  • Vulnerability Scanning: Use automated tools to scan for known vulnerabilities in the system. This should be done regularly to identify new vulnerabilities as they emerge.
  • Penetration Testing: Conduct penetration tests to simulate real-world attacks and identify vulnerabilities that may not be detected by automated tools. This involves both automated testing and manual testing by security experts.
  • Code Reviews: Perform regular code reviews to identify security weaknesses in the codebase. This can be done through peer reviews or using automated static analysis tools.

Remediation and Mitigation

  • Prioritize Vulnerabilities: Based on the risk assessment, prioritize vulnerabilities for remediation. Focus on those with the highest impact and likelihood of exploitation.
  • Implement Fixes: Develop and implement fixes for identified vulnerabilities. This may involve code changes, configuration updates, or applying patches.
  • Retest and Validate: After remediation, retest the system to ensure that vulnerabilities have been effectively addressed. Validate that the fixes do not introduce new issues.

Adhering to Relevant Standards

Importance of Standards

Adhering to security standards helps ensure that best practices are followed and that the product meets industry and regulatory requirements.

Common Security Standards and Frameworks

  • ISO/IEC 27001: This standard provides a framework for an information security management system (ISMS). It helps organizations manage and protect their information assets.
  • NIST Cybersecurity Framework: This framework provides guidelines for managing and reducing cybersecurity risks. It includes best practices for identifying, protecting, detecting, responding to, and recovering from cybersecurity incidents.
  • OWASP Top Ten: The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) Top Ten provides a list of the most critical web application security risks. Adhering to these guidelines helps protect against common web vulnerabilities.
  • PCI DSS: The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) applies to organizations that handle payment card information. It provides guidelines for securing payment card data.

Industry-Specific Standards

  • Healthcare – HIPAA: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets standards for protecting sensitive patient data. Organizations dealing with healthcare information must ensure compliance with HIPAA regulations.
  • Medical Devices – IEC 62304: This standard specifies the life cycle requirements for medical device software. It ensures that medical device software is designed and maintained with a high level of quality and safety.
  • Energy Sector – NERC CIP: The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) standards are designed to secure the assets required for operating North America’s bulk electric system.
  • Automotive – ISO/SAE 21434: This standard addresses cybersecurity engineering for road vehicles. It provides guidelines for ensuring the cybersecurity of automotive systems throughout their lifecycle.
  • Industrial Control Systems – IEC 62443: This series of standards provides a flexible framework to address and mitigate current and future security vulnerabilities in industrial automation and control systems.
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): A regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy in the European Union and the European Economic Area. It also addresses the transfer of personal data outside the EU and EEA areas.
  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA): A federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX): A law passed to protect investors from the possibility of fraudulent accounting activities by corporations.

Mapping Controls to Standards

Identify Applicable Standards: Determine which standards apply to your product based on industry, regulatory requirements, and best practices.

  • Align Security Controls: Map the implemented security controls to the requirements of the applicable standards. Ensure that all required controls are in place and functioning as intended.
  • Regular Audits and Assessments: Conduct regular audits and assessments to ensure ongoing compliance with the relevant standards. Address any identified gaps promptly.

Implementing Security Controls Based on Standards

  • Security Control Frameworks: Adopt comprehensive security control frameworks such as ISO/IEC 27002 or the Center for Internet Security (CIS) Controls. These frameworks provide detailed controls that align with various standards.
  • Custom Security Baselines: Develop custom security baselines that map the controls from these frameworks to your specific security requirements and regulatory obligations. This ensures a tailored approach that addresses unique product needs.
  • Automated Compliance Checking: Utilize automated tools to continuously check compliance with the defined baselines. These tools can help identify deviations and ensure that security controls are consistently applied.
  • Policy and Procedure Development: Create detailed policies and procedures that outline the implementation and management of security controls. These documents should be accessible to all stakeholders involved in the product lifecycle.

Comprehensive Documentation and Sign-Off Process

Importance of Documentation

Comprehensive documentation is critical for maintaining and improving product security. It serves as a reference for developers, testers, and users, ensuring that security practices are consistently followed.

Key Documentation Elements

  • Security Policy: Outlines the overall security strategy, including goals, principles, and responsibilities.
  • Security Architecture: Provides detailed information about the security design, including diagrams and descriptions of security controls.
  • Risk Management Plan: Documents the identified risks, their assessment, and the mitigation strategies implemented.
  • Incident Response Plan: Details the procedures for responding to security incidents, including detection, containment, eradication, and recovery.
  • User Guides: Provides instructions for users on how to securely configure and use the product. This includes information on setting up authentication, updating firmware, and reporting security issues.

Steps to Document and Sign-Off

Create a Documentation Plan: Develop a plan that outlines all required documentation, responsible parties, and timelines for completion.

  • Gather Requirements and Inputs: Collect all relevant information from stakeholders, including developers, security experts, and regulatory compliance officers.
  • Draft Documentation: Write the initial drafts of the required documents. Ensure clarity, conciseness, and comprehensiveness in the documentation.
  • Review and Revise: Conduct thorough reviews of the documentation with relevant stakeholders. Incorporate feedback and make necessary revisions to ensure accuracy and completeness.
  • Approval and Sign-Off: Obtain formal approval from designated authorities for each document. This typically includes sign-off from security leads, product managers, and legal or compliance officers.
  • Distribution and Training: Distribute the finalized documentation to all relevant parties. Conduct training sessions to ensure that everyone understands and follows the documented procedures.
  • Regular Updates: Establish a schedule for regular review and update of the documentation. Ensure that changes in the product, security landscape, or regulations are promptly reflected in the documents.


Achieving secure by design results requires a comprehensive approach that includes identifying security requirements, implementing robust controls, addressing security gaps, and adhering to relevant standards. By integrating these practices into the product development lifecycle, organizations can ensure that their products are secure and resilient against evolving cyber threats, maintaining low risk before moving to production. This approach not only safeguards the product but also ensures compliance with industry standards and regulations, ultimately leading to a more secure and trustworthy product in the market.

A Call to Action for Future-Ready Cybersecurity

Integrating cybersecurity measures such as Secure by Design, Product Security, and Penetration Testing is essential for the energy sector. As cyber threats continue to evolve, the defenses of critical infrastructure must adapt accordingly. By embracing a proactive and collaborative approach to cybersecurity, the energy sector can ensure the stability and security of its operations amidst the digital threats of the future.

Completing the Quotation Request Form with Cyber Legion isn’t just about requesting a service; it’s about engaging in a technical collaboration that bolsters your defenses against cyber threats. The form serves as a foundational document that informs the depth, breadth, and focus of the impending penetration test, tailored to your specific requirements and constraints.

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