Secure by default

Issue 7 2020 Editor's Choice

As the cybersecurity landscape changes and evolves and IoT continues to proliferate, so do the challenges being faced by businesses.


Tertius Wolfaardt.

It is worth noting that not all hacks consist of an elite team of sophisticated hackers. The reality may be more of an opportunistic hacker looking for exploitable vulnerabilities and weaknesses in a network or just plain old human mistakes or oversight. To add to that, there are huge data breaches reported due to configuration problems. While it is widely acknowledged that education on new technologies is hugely important, it is essential that technology vendors support those that are installing and commissioning these systems, to minimise human mistakes and configuration issues.

Simply put, a Secure by Default strategy means taking an holistic approach to solving security problems at the root cause, rather than treating the symptoms of a cybersecurity defect and therefore acting at scale to reduce the overall harm to a system or type of component. Secure by Default covers the long-term technical effort to ensure that the right security primitives are built into software and hardware. It also covers the equally demanding task of ensuring that those primitives are available and usable in such a way that the market can readily adopt them.

This area has never been so important for businesses. Poor set-up and configuration increases the risk of devices providing a platform for unauthorised access.

The worst that can happen

At Axis, we’ve experienced businesses questioning the danger of a cybersecurity breach, stating: “What’s the worst that can happen? They will only get access to the video feeds but won’t get into our network.” This is a dangerous scenario and mindset.

If a technology does follow Secure by Design principles, it will have embedded out-of-box cybersecurity principles built in, which would inevitably have prevented this incident from occurring. To support our technologies, Axis has aligned Secure by Default to recommendations made within industry best practices.

• Password prompt – In order to access the device, there will be an out of box password for the user. During the setup, we will prompt you to change it.

• Password strength indicator – There is a strength indicator advising of the effectiveness of the password. Due to most large enterprises having their own corporate password policies, we won’t dictate and approve the password used, but will advise.

• HTTPS encryption – Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP, the protocol over which data is sent between your browser and the website that you are connected to. The ‘S’ at the end of HTTPS stands for ‘Secure’. It means all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted.

• 802.1x – IEEE 802.1X is an IEEE Standard for port-based Network Access Control (PNAC). It is part of the IEEE 802.1 group of networking protocols. It provides an authentication mechanism to devices wishing to attach to a LAN or WLAN.

• Remote access DISABLED (NAT traversal) – While there are operational benefits to being able to remotely access devices, this is a function that needs to be enabled and the necessary procuration should be followed when this has been enabled to protect the device.

Axis understands the importance of securing our technologies, and while no technology is ever 100% secure, we follow technical considerations such as Secure by Default.

For more information contact Axis Communications, +27 11 548 6780, terri.miller@axis.com, www.axis.com

‘Secure by design’ in IT


Gregory Dellas.

By Gregory Dellas, security presales, CA Southern Africa.

Consider the construction of a bank, an embassy or some type of secure installation. Before brick and mortar is laid down, the secure design of the building is already in the blueprints. Things such as the entrance and exit points, the location of a vault, thickness of the walls, anchor points for gates, grades of steel, mounting brackets for CCTV, cable conduits for wiring and so forth, all this is planned prior to construction. The facilities for security need to be designed alongside the functional facilities.

Software development without security by design is like a flimsy residential building that must then be renovated with thicker walls, strong gates, CCTV, guard huts etc., all at a later stage. This is called overlaid or retroactive security, not very secure or efficient and will never be as safe as a building that had security by design. The same issues apply to retroactive security in IT.

IT ‘Security by Design’ means putting in mechanisms like encryption, granularity, segregation, reporting and such into the solution early on in the design stage, before ever getting to a public release. Furthermore, continuous vulnerability testing is done throughout the development lifecycle. The means for improvement and operational testing are also built in to enhance security post deployment.

For more information, contact CA Southern Africa, +27 11 417 8594, heidi.ziegelmeier@caafrica.co.za


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