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Essential Security Measures in System Design

Last Updated : 08 Nov, 2023
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In today’s digitally advanced and Interconnected technology-driven worlds, ensuring the security of the systems is a top-notch priority. This article will deep into the aspects of why it is necessary to build secure systems and maintain them. With various threats like cyberattacks, Data Breaches, and other Vulnerabilities, it has become very important for system administrators to incorporate robust security measures into their systems.


What is the need for Security Measures in System Design?

Security Measures in System Design are an essential requirement in today’s digital world. Some of the key reasons are given below:

  • Protection Against Cyber Threats: The internet is full of developers/programmers with ill and malicious intent, who want to hack into any kind of devices or services for their or someone else’s benefit and steal the data. Without proper security measures systems are vulnerable to these kinds of attacks, such as Data Breaches, Hacking, DoS attacks, etc.
  • Data Privacy and Compliance: Different measures like GDPR, HIPAA, and CCPA recommend organizations to protect user data. Security measures are important for compliance, as their violation can lead to a heavy fine and legal procedures.
  • Intellectual Property Protection: Most companies often have their valuable intellectual property stored in their systems in a digital manner, ensuring their safety is a must for that company.
  • Preventing Financial Loss: Not only just loss of data but some cyber attacks can be used to steal valuable information and passwords which then can be used to steal money. So to restrict those attacks, taking precautions is a must.
  • Reputation Management: Leaking of confidential data and user data can damage the reputation of the company severely. Safeguarding those data is a top priority for any company and to take necessary precautions by implementing proper security measures is a must.

Steps and ways to ensure the security of a system

1. Authentication

Authentication is a crucial step or way to ensure the security of a system, it is very necessary to identify the person who is using that certain device, and to do so users need to authenticate themselves before using the machine. Some of the most popular ways of authenticating are given below:

  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): MFA is a very renowned approach to authenticate the identity of any user, this requires not one but two types/methods to authenticate someone. It can be anything from OTP (One-time password) to a security question. But both the ways aren’t the same or do not include the same device, this is to ensure that the backup device the user has mentioned is correct and that the person trying to access the system is the rightful user.
  • Biometrics: Biometric authentication methods like Fingerprint, Iris Scan, Face Recognition, etc can also be used to authenticate the user.
  • Emphasis on strong password policy: Enforce some strict rules that will force the users to use set complex and lengthy passwords so that they refrain from using the most commonly used passwords available on the internet.
  • Single Sign-On: This is another approach that restricts users from logging in more than once and using the system from various other devices.

2. Authorization

Authorization is a process in which the authority of the particular user trying to access a system is checked. It is as important as the authentication process, in this process the users are verified and their authority to access the system is being checked. It is done after the Authentication process. Some of the most renowed ways of authorization is given below:

  • Attribute Based Access Control: Different attributes/roles are being given to different users based on their job title, department etc. This is used to authorize the user errorlessly.
  • Least Privilege Principl: This means that give the user the least amount of privilege i.e only give them the privilege what they need or what they have been assigned to do, no extra privilege, so there will be no exploitation of the privilege given to them.
  • Review the Accesses: Review the accesses and privileges given to the users on a timely basis, and if needed remove or add some privileges.
  • Resource Based Authorization: Authorize users based on resources like database, files, folders etc, by specifying who can read, write or delete them.

3. Data Encryption

Data Encryption is also a crucial step to ensure the safety of any system. Below are some of the key aspects to ensure data encryption in the systems:

  • Select strong encryption algorithm: Algorithms like AES which are robust in nature should be used to encrypt the data stored in the system.
  • Data in Transit: Use secure protocols like HTTPS, TLS, SSL etc while transfering data from source to destination.
  • Data at Rest: Encrypt stored data using different encryption types like full-disk encryption.
  • Managing the Keys: Create a secure key management system to generate, store and update encryption keys whenever necessary.
  • Impose End to End Encryption: Use End to End encryption for the user generated contents and other sensitive communications to make sure only the authorized users can participate in those.

4. Secure Coding Practices

Secure Coding Practices are necessary to safeguard a system from various types of Cyber Threats. By following these practices, it is possible to safeguard the sensitive an confidential data, restrict unauthorized access, maintain the integrity of the system etc. Proper validation of the input and access control mechanism are important to stop common cyber attacks.

Some of the Secure Coding Practices is given below:

  • Input validation: It is necessary to always validate user inputs to prevent threats like SQL Injection and XSS (Cross Site Scripting).
  • Access Control: Implement proper access control mechanism so restrict the user to only let them access data or information they are authorized to do.
  • Secure Authentication: Use of secure authentication methods like MFA , Face Recognition etc.
  • Error Handling: Use meaningful error messages and logging information to avoid potential leak of sensitive and confidential data publicy which could be used by hackers.
  • Regular Updates and Patch Managemen: Updating the security components alongside libraries and patches is a must to safeguard the system from cyber attacks.

5. Network Security

Network Security is also a important security measure in case of System Design, as it helps in maintaining the Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability of the data stored in the system. Network Security comes into play when there is a need to transfer data or for any kind of communication purpose between two systems, having a strict network security policy will create a safe passage to transfer data or information keeping their intergrity and security.

Below are some of the most important practices to maintain it:

  • Installing Firewalls and IDS: Implementation of Firewall and Intrusion Detection System is a crucial step to maintain the network security of a system. Firewalls will act as a filter to sort out the incoming packets from untrusted public networks and entering trusted private networks or devices. IDS is also useful to identify if anything fishy is happening in the network, like any malicious activity or intrusion is happening in the network and alert the user. The combination of FIrewall and IDS makes the security stronger.
  • Use Encryption: Use of encryption protocols like SSL or TLS to secure the data transmission, it restricts any third party from doing eavesdropping and data interception, ensuring the integrity of the data transmitted.
  • Access Control: Implement RBAC (Role Based Access Control) to ensure that no one gets any other extra access to any of the services which they shouldn’t get. It is also necessary to review and make changes to those accesses regularly if needed.
  • Network Monitoring and Logging: Continous monitoring of the network to ensure there is no unauthorized access or anomaly is found. Detailed log of the network activities can also be used to detect any anomaly or security vulnerabilities.

6. Updates

Keeping the network device, software, firmware, libraries etc always updated is also beneficial in restricting unauthorized access and malicious activity in the system and network. Regularly apply patches, and update to fix any vulnerabilities that were present in the previous versions, updates are usually provided to fix the vulnerabilities or loopholes present in the current version of the software, so if those softwares are not updated then the hackers can use those vulnerabilities to attack that system and steal user’s data.

7. Incident Response and Disaster Recovery (IR/DR)

Incident Response and Disaster Recovery refers to a set of strategies, procedure and policies designed to address and reduce the impact of some unexpected events that could halt the normal functioning of the system.

Incident Response (IR):

As the named suggests, Incident Response responds to the cybersecurity incidents happening in the system which can range from cyber attacks to data breaches and malware infections. A generic IR plan consists of following phases –

  • Preperation: Creating a plan to respond with a particular incident, identify the critical assests and form a incident response team.
  • Indentification of the Issue: By analyzing the system logs, the issue is being detected and categorized
  • Containmen: Taking some immediate action to stop the spreading of the malware and affect the entire system.
  • Eradication: Identifying the root cause of the issue and remove it from all the affected areas of the system.
  • Recovery: After eradication, it is time to recover the system to it’s original non affected status and improve the security measures to prevent future attacks.

Disaster Recovery (DR):

Disaster Recovery mainly deals with Physical issues like Hard Disk failure, problems in Motherboard or RAM or any other physical part of the system. It deals with hardware based issue and tries to ensure that the system continues to work in the same way by solving the issues. This involves –

  • Data Backup: Backing up data regularly to a cloud based or any other place is a very important step to ensure the availability of the data even if the system faces any issue from hardware side.
  • Redundancy: Use redundant hardware, data centre etc to make multiple copies of the same file so that if one system fails the file is still accessible.
  • Business Continuity Planning: Develop strategies to continue the essential business processes even after a disaster.
  • Testing and Performing Drill: Regularly test the disaster recovery plan via testing and simulation to ensure the system is ready to handle those kind of situations.

8. Physical Security

Physical Security is also a crucial component when it comes to system design. Below are some of the main reason why it is important.

  • Protection of Hardware: Physical security measures are crucial for safeguarding the hardware components of a system. Data Centeres, Servers, Network Devices need to be protected from theft, vandalism or any other harm.
  • Data Protection: Gaining accress to the Physical Hardware mostly means gaining access to the data stored in it, so to protect the data stored in the physical components, physical security is very much needed.
  • Business Continuity: Any kind of Disaster whether it is man made or natural can disrupt the operations, so to ensure that the system keeps working after some disaster like fire or failure of pwoer supply, having a physical security measure is always good.
  • Preventing Unauthorized Access: Physical Security can also be used to prevent unauthorized access to sensistive data.
  • Physical Asset Protection: Physical Security is also useful to protect the physical assests, such as hardware devices from thefts, vandlise, damage or misuse.

9. Secure Communication Protocols

Secure Communication Protocols are vital for System Design when it comes to data transmission. These protocols help in ensuring the information remains confidential, integral and safe from any unauthorized access. Using secure protocols like SSL/TLS and HTTPS while transferring data is highly recommended to securely transmit sensitive data, most of the industries use this. By safeguarding communication, systems mitigate the risk of data breaches, maintain it’s credibility, and assure users that their iinformation is safely stored or transmitted.

Some of the moslty used communication protocols are given below –

10. Third-Party Risk Management

Third-Party Risk Management is essential for System Design to reduce the vulnerabilities caused by external factors like partners, vendors or services. Modern Systems rely on various Third Party applications like APIs and Cloud Services, so it is easy to get affected by any of them.

System Administrators need to evaluate their Security approaches from these third-party services. A failure or breach from the Third-Party service can lead to severe issues like data leak, system disruption and most importantly reputation damage. Users will trust the company lesser if they hear that their data is not stored in their system. By implementing strict rules it is possible to reduce the risk caused by the Third Party services.

11. Secure Software Development Lifecycle (SSDLC)

The Secure Software Development Lifecycle (SSDLC) is a systematic software development approach which integrates security measures throught the development process. It aims to identify and solve vulnerabilities at an early stage of the development process. This approach significantly reduces the chance of having any vulnerability in the final product. SSDLC implements security approaches in each stage of the development from planning and design to coding, testing and the final deployment.

In the context of System Design, some of the benefits of SSDLC is given below:

  • Proactive Securit: SSDLC provides proactive security measures, means that a lesser amount of vulnerabilities will appear during the development process. This approach helps in creating more error free softwares.
  • Cost Efficient: Identiying and eradicating issues at a very early stage of the development process is much more cost-efficient then addressing them after deployment. It helps in avoiding costly security breaches and redesigns.
  • Compliance: Most of the systems need to adhere to some security compliance defined by the government or the industry, SSDLC helps in adhereing to all the security compliances from the very beginning.
  • Enhanced Reputation: If the systems are more secure and has less vulnerabilities then automatically the reputation of that company increases, so using SSDLC methods while designing a system will increase the reputation and build trust amongst the users.
  • Reduced Risks: By eradicating vulnerabilities at an early stage, SSDLC reduces the risk of data breach, cyber attack, downtime or any other financial losses.

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