Introduction to CISA’s Secure by Design Initiative


What is Secure by Design?

Secure by Design products are those where the security of the customers is a core business requirement, not just a technical feature. Secure by Design principles should be implemented during the design phase of a product’s development lifecycle to dramatically reduce the number of exploitable flaws before they are introduced to the market for broad use or consumption. Products should be secure to use out of the box, with secure configurations enabled by default and security features such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), logging, and single sign on (SSO) available at no additional cost. (Source)

Secure by Design is an initiative by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) aimed at integrating cybersecurity practices into the design and development phases of technology products and systems. The goal is to ensure that security is considered a fundamental element from the outset, rather than an afterthought. This approach helps in reducing vulnerabilities and enhancing the resilience of systems against evolving cyber threats.

Sounds familiar?

Yes, because we know for the past 20 years or more the Microsoft initiative:   Secure by design – Secure by default – Secure operations




Who Should Be Interested?

This initiative is crucial for software developers, system designers, engineers, and manufacturers involved in creating and deploying digital solutions. It is also vital for policy makers and business leaders who oversee the management and governance of cybersecurity risks in their organizations.

Why Is It Important?

Incorporating cybersecurity measures early in the design process can significantly mitigate risks, reduce costs associated with addressing security flaws after deployment, and improve consumer trust. Secure by Design supports not only the protection of individual products but also the overall security posture of national infrastructure and business ecosystems.

Focus of the Initiative

The primary focus of the Secure by Design initiative is to create a systematic, standardized approach to cybersecurity, ensuring that every phase of technology development includes security as a core component. This involves collaborative efforts among stakeholders to adopt best practices that promote security from the initial stages of product and system development.

Topics Covered by the Initiative

Development and Implementation of Security Practices

  • Guidelines for integrating security into software development life cycles (SDLC).
  • Establishment of security benchmarks and standards for new technologies.

Stakeholder Collaboration

  • Engagement with private sector, academia, and international bodies to harmonize security standards.
  • Public-private partnerships to advance security innovations and solutions.

Regulatory Compliance and Risk Management

  • Frameworks for compliance with emerging laws and standards in cybersecurity.
  • Strategies for risk assessment and management integrated into the design process.

Implementation and Auditing

How to Implement

  • Create a Secure Software Development Lifecycle with security protocols and checklists tailored to each stage of the design and development processes.
  • Incorporate automated security testing tools to assess vulnerabilities during the development phase.
  • Continuous monitoring and updating of security measures as part of ongoing maintenance.


  • Regular security audits conducted by internal or third-party auditors to ensure adherence to established standards.
  • Use of automated auditing tools to provide ongoing assessments of security posture.

Responsibility and Governance

Who Is Responsible?

  • Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and IT managers are primarily responsible for overseeing the implementation of Secure by Design principles.
  • Developers, engineers, and product managers are accountable for incorporating these principles into their workflows and outputs.


  • Establishment of a governance structure to enforce security standards and practices.
  • Regular reviews and updates to security policies to align with technological advancements and threat landscapes.

Conclusion and further steps

CISA’s Secure by Design initiative represents a proactive shift in cybersecurity strategy, emphasizing the importance of integrating security at the foundational level of technology development. By fostering a collaborative environment among all stakeholders, it aims to standardize and strengthen cybersecurity practices across industries, thereby enhancing the security and resilience of digital infrastructures and systems.


CISA’s Secure by Design Alert Series

highlights the prevalence of widely known and documented vulnerabilities, with available and effective mitigations, that have not been eliminated. Alerts are released in response to threat actor activity, but further demonstrate how secure by design software development can help reasonably protect against malicious cyber actors successfully exploiting predictable and well-known vulnerabilities.

Check here their page for Alerts:

Secure by Design Blogs

Learn what’s top of mind at CISA and our efforts to help make technology products secure by design.

The post Introduction to CISA’s Secure by Design Initiative first appeared on Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity.

How to convince Top Management to invest in cybersecurity and secure software development

I’ve heard many times IT people and Software Developers complaining that they have difficulties to sensibilize their managers to invest more in cybersecurity.

Also some employees of my customers in the cybersecurity consulting area show sometimes frustration when we are talking about priorities of their top management – cybersecurity is almost neveve one until it is too late.

When I talk to C-Level of the organizations that book us for consulting, I am telling them that organizations face an increasing number of cyber threats these days compared to 10-20 years ago  (yes, we are so old).

They have a lot of risks like data breaches, ransomware attacks, and intellectual property theft and their only chance to survive these is to  investing early in robust cybersecurity measures and secure software development practices.

However, convincing top management to allocate resources and invest in these areas is a challenging task for everyone, me included.

Unfortunately, investing in cybersecurity is a bit like investing in a optional insurance: you want it so that you can stay relaxed, but you know you are not forced to buy it, so you try to find the cheapest one that covers more or less your risks. Additionally, you don’t even want to invest much in finding the right one that suits you, because you considered even this time almost a waste. In the end, you do something just for the sake of being able to sleep better, but deep down in your mind you know that you don’t actually know if it will help you if something happens, so you just tell yourself: this will not happen to me. Sounds familiar, right? 🙂


Here are some thoughts that you can expand if you want, that can help you persuade your management to invest in cybersecurity and secure software development.

  1. Understand the Risks and Consequences: Before making your case to top management, thoroughly comprehend the risks associated with inadequate cybersecurity and insecure software. Research recent cyber-attacks and data breaches to present real-life examples of the devastating consequences that organizations have faced. Emphasize the financial, reputational, and legal ramifications that can result from such incidents.
  2. Communicate in Business Terms: Top management is primarily concerned with the organization’s success and business continuity and growth. To effectively persuade them, it is essential to frame your argument in terms of business impact. Highlight how cybersecurity and secure software development directly contribute to the organization’s profitability, customer trust, regulatory compliance, and competitive advantage.
  3. Showcase the ROI of the investment: Present a compelling return on investment (ROI) analysis to demonstrate the financial benefits of investing in cybersecurity and secure software development. Calculate potential cost savings by comparing the expenses associated with preventing a breach to the financial implications of recovering from an attack. Additionally, highlight the positive impact on productivity, customer retention, and brand value that can result from a strong cybersecurity posture.
  4. Address Regulatory Compliance: Many industries (medicine, automotive, software development) have stringent data protection regulations and privacy laws. Highlight the legal and financial risks of non-compliance, such as substantial fines and damage to the organization’s reputation. Explain how investing in cybersecurity and secure software development aligns with regulatory requirements, safeguarding the organization against potential penalties and legal repercussions.
  5. Present Industry Benchmarks and Best Practices: Illustrate industry benchmarks and best practices to establish a standard of excellence in cybersecurity and secure software development. Share case studies of organizations in the same industry that have suffered cyber-attacks or data breaches, emphasizing how investing in security measures could have prevented or mitigated the damage. Highlight recognized frameworks and certifications, such as ISO 27001 and PCI DSS, to demonstrate the organization’s commitment to security.
  6. Present the Threat Landscape: Explain the main cyber threats and the need for investment in cybersecurity. Highlight risks such as ransomware, social engineering, and zero-day vulnerabilities. Illustrate the importance of regular security assessments, penetration testing, and employee training to stay ahead of new threats. Explain that cybersecurity is not a one-time investment but an ongoing process that requires continuous attention.
  7. Come up with a Step-By-Step Plan: Explain how a plan in several steps will help to mitigate the problems without causing too much disruption in the daily business. If business people want to hear anything more often , than it is that it won’t cost too much.
    Tailoring the solution in many steps and matching your company’s needs will also allow controlling the costs involved with the implementation.


Convincing top management to invest in cybersecurity and secure software development requires a strategic step-by-step approach. No business can go all-in because cybersecurity is hard to implement, even harder to maintain and expensive..

Remember to tailor your arguments and plans to the specific needs and priorities of your organization.

With a well-structured and persuasive approach, you can encourage top management to prioritize and allocate resources to safeguard the organization’s digital assets and ensure its long-term success in the face of evolving cyber threats.


If you need help to talk to your management, you can book the consulting services of Endpoint Cybersecurity here.

The post How to convince Top Management to invest in cybersecurity and secure software development first appeared on Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity.

Securing the Secure: The Importance of Secure Software Practices in Security Software Development

In an increasingly interconnected digital world, the importance of secure software cannot be overstated.

Many people think that by using security software all their digital assets become automatically secured.

However, it is crucial to recognize that security software itself is not inherently secure by default.

To ensure the highest level of protection, security software must be designed, developed, and maintained using secure software practices.

This blog post emphasizes how important it is to incorporate secure software development practices within the broader context of the secure software lifecycle for security software.


Understanding the Secure Software Lifecycle

The secure software lifecycle encompasses the entire journey of a security software product, from its inception to its retirement.

It consists of multiple stages, such as :

  • Requirements gathering/Analysis
  • Design,
  • Implementation
  • Testing,
  • Deployment
  • Maintenance
  • Retirement

Incorporating secure software practices at each step is essential to fortify the software’s defense against potential vulnerabilities and attacks.


Implement Secure Software Development Practices

Implementing secure software practices involves adopting a proactive approach to identify and address security concerns from the outset.

Some fundamental practices include:

a. Threat Modeling:

Conducting a comprehensive analysis of potential threats and vulnerabilities helps developers design robust security measures. By understanding potential risks, developers can prioritize security features and allocate resources accordingly.

b. Secure Coding:

Writing code with a security-first mindset minimizes the likelihood of exploitable vulnerabilities. Adhering to coding standards, utilizing secure coding libraries, and performing regular code reviews and audits contribute to building a solid foundation for secure software.

c. Secure Configuration Management

Properly configuring the security software environment, such as secure network settings, encryption protocols, and access controls, is vital for safeguarding against unauthorized access and data breaches.

d. Regular Security Testing

Rigorous testing, including vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, and code analysis, helps identify and rectify security flaws. It ensures that security software operates as intended and remains resilient against evolving threats.


The Bigger Picture: Security in a Connected World

Secure software development practices extend beyond the development of security software alone. They have a broader impact on the overall security ecosystem. The adoption of secure software practices sets a precedent for other software developers, promoting a culture of security awareness and accountability.

Moreover, incorporating secure practices in security software helps foster trust among users and organizations. It instills confidence that the software is diligently designed to protect sensitive information and critical systems. Secure software practices also contribute to regulatory compliance, enabling organizations to meet stringent security standards and safeguard user data.


The Vital Importance of Secure Software: Consequences of Security Vulnerabilities for Security Companies

The implications of security vulnerabilities go beyond the immediate risks they pose to users and organizations. For security companies, the consequences of having products with security vulnerabilities can be severe, impacting their reputation, customer trust, and overall business viability.

Here are just a few negative consequences that security companies may face if their products fall prey to security vulnerabilities:

  1. Reputation Damage: Security companies are built on trust and reliability. When a security product is discovered to have vulnerabilities, it erodes customer confidence and tarnishes the company’s reputation. The perception that a security company cannot protect its own software casts doubt on its ability to safeguard sensitive information and defend against external threats. This loss of trust can be challenging to regain, resulting in a significant blow to the company’s credibility and market standing.
  2. Customer Loss and Dissatisfaction: Security vulnerabilities in software can lead to compromised systems, data breaches, and financial losses for users. In such instances, customers are likely to seek alternative security solutions, abandoning the vulnerable product and the company behind it. This loss of customers not only affects the company’s revenue but also demonstrates a lack of customer satisfaction and loyalty. Negative word-of-mouth can spread rapidly, deterring potential customers from considering the security company’s offerings in the future.
  3. Legal and Regulatory Consequences: Security vulnerabilities can have legal and regulatory implications for security companies. Depending on the nature and severity of the vulnerabilities, companies may face legal action from affected parties, resulting in costly litigation and potential financial penalties. Furthermore, security companies operating in regulated industries, such as finance or healthcare, may face compliance violations, leading to fines and reputational damage. Compliance with security standards and industry regulations is critical for security companies to maintain credibility and avoid legal consequences.
  4. Increased Operational Costs: Addressing security vulnerabilities requires significant resources, both in terms of time and finances. Security companies must invest in dedicated teams to investigate, fix, and release patches or updates to address vulnerabilities promptly. Additionally, engaging in incident response, customer support, and post-incident communication efforts adds to the operational costs. Failure to address vulnerabilities in a timely and efficient manner can exacerbate the negative consequences, making the recovery process more challenging and expensive.


In an era where security breaches and cyber threats are prevalent, relying solely on the notion that security software is inherently secure is a grave misconception. Secure software practices are indispensable for developing robust and resilient security software. By implementing these practices throughout the software lifecycle, developers can significantly mitigate the risks associated with vulnerabilities and ensure the highest level of protection for users and organizations alike. Embracing secure software practices sets the stage for a safer digital landscape, bolstering trust, and reinforcing security across the entire software development ecosystem. By prioritizing security, security companies can protect their customers, preserve their reputation, and maintain a competitive edge in the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity.


If you want to know more about SSDLC, contact Endpoint Cybersecurity for a free consultation.

Secure Software Development Lifecycle (SSDLC)

The post Securing the Secure: The Importance of Secure Software Practices in Security Software Development first appeared on Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity.

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