Secure-by-design and secure-by-default

Issue 4 2021 Cyber Security

“To protect your data and assets, you need video solutions that are secure-by-design and secure-by-default. But what do these commonly used cybersecurity terms actually mean? And how can you make sure your video device manufacturer lives up to all their cybersecurity promises?” asks Fred Streefland, director of cybersecurity at Hikvision EMEA.

Most of the time, it’s better to avoid tech jargon in favor of clear, concise descriptions, but it’s not always possible. Some terms just stick and when it comes to cybersecurity, it’s very common to hear about secure-by-design and secure-by-default.

But what exactly do these terms mean? And why are they so important for your business and cybersecurity strategy?

What is secure-by-design?

Secure-by-design is a philosophy or approach that aims to bake security into every stage of a product’s production process. It begins at the conceptual phase when a video camera or other product is still on the drawing board and it extends through development and testing, right through to final production and delivery.

But it’s clearly not enough to think about security when developing new products. There also have to be concrete steps that are taken to evaluate security at every stage.

During development, for example, peer reviews of device software are essential to minimise bugs and to ensure that no security loopholes exist in the code. Additionally, products should be subjected to rigorous and independent penetration testing to ensure that there are no easily exploited vulnerabilities.

What about secure-by-default?

Again, secure-by-default is used frequently, but often without explanation or context. The real meaning of secure-by-default is that products are configured for maximum security when they leave the factory – even if these settings mean that some features are turned off.

As always, there is a balance to be struck between security and functionality and you always have the option to tone down security settings and increase the functionality of your products – depending on your risk tolerance. However, secure-by-default factory settings offer maximum cybersecurity protection from day one of your installation – which is a great place to start from.

Five key cybersecurity questions for your device manufacturer

When it comes to secure-by-design and secure-by-default, the buck stops with the device manufacturer. The question is, how do you know if your chosen device manufacturer is taking cybersecurity seriously enough?

The best way to find out is to ask your manufacturer lots of questions about their cybersecurity commitments and practices. Questions like:

1. Is secure-by-design a priority investment for your company?

Consider that designing a secure product from the ground up is far more expensive, so there needs to be budget available for peer reviews, testing and other activities that test device security throughout the design and production lifecycle.

2. Do you have a dedicated cybersecurity team?

Video manufacturers that are serious about product security tend to have a dedicated cybersecurity team that is tasked with ongoing process and product reviews.

3. Do you share the details of your secure-by-design products publicly (in white papers or other communications)?

Again, manufacturers who are serious about cybersecurity must be transparent about the details of their secure-by-design implementation. These details should be shared publicly, preferably documented in white papers.

4. What happens if I need cybersecurity support after I’ve installed my video system?

Security conscious manufacturers should have a dedicated after-sales team that can address any security questions or issues that come up for your installation.

5. Are all your products secure-by-default from the factory?

Responsible manufacturers will do this as standard, but it’s still important to ask, just in case.

Hikvision and cybersecurity

At Hikvision, we invest millions of dollars and thousands of R&D; hours a year to ensure our products are fully secure-by-design and secure-by-default.

In practical terms, we bake cybersecurity features into all our products under the watchful eye of our dedicated cybersecurity team – with rigorous peer reviews and pentesting undertaken at every stage of development and production processes. We are also completely transparent about the tools and processes we use to create secure-by-design products and we are happy to share this information with our customers.

Finally, but equally importantly, all Hikvision products are delivered in a secure-by-default configuration, allowing you to make your own decisions when balancing product security and functionality.


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