3 Reasons ‘Secure by Design’ Should Be the Default in Product Development

Secure by Design’ Should Be the Default in Product Development

As part of Solutions Review’s Premium Content Series—a collection of contributed columns written by industry experts in maturing software categories—Shiven Ramji, the Chief Product Officer at Auth0, shares some insights on why Secure by Design should be the standard in product development efforts.

Breaches impact everyone. There are numerous ways security breaches occur, but simple user error can be a root cause. Far too often, security is treated as the user’s responsibility, and this approach has contributed to several high-profile incidents.  

In the face of massive data breaches and other unwelcome security lapses, vendors are starting to take a more proactive approach in creating guardrails for their customers and implementing a Secure by Design approach. This approach is when products are shipped with the most cautious settings by default, accompanied by other vital protective features and authentication safeguards, including Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and Privileged Access Management (PAM).  

Here are three ways Secure by Design is becoming the default: 

Increased Data Security 

Due to the accelerated digital shift and proliferation of online threats combined with the over-reliance on username and password authentication (86% of consumers globally admit to reusing passwords across sites, and 47% rank creating a password among their top frustrations with the sign-up process), identity attacks have become a significant source of high-profile hacks and data breaches and will continue to do so. 

While security is an expectation of everyone, organizations must prioritize building their applications with the highest levels of security. Companies must now take a holistic, end-to-end security approach when developing products and services. From the start, security must be mapped out and considered throughout the entire product development lifecycle and not viewed as an afterthought. 

Quality should also be top of mind when providing any product or service to customers. Focusing on quality assurance and identifying vulnerabilities throughout the development lifecycle helps streamline security efforts and reduce the risk for an organization and its consumers while providing an enjoyable user experience.  

Identity as a Strategic Priority 

But securing this “new” digital world has become exponentially more complex, all the while meeting the ever-growing expectations for convenience, privacy, and security. An identity-first strategy starting with modern Identity Management and Access Management (IAM) can help organizations ensure their environments are kept safe and secure. Ideally, this leads to every digital experience fitting each customer’s needs. 

Digital identity is crucial in any digital transformation initiative in small and large organizations. It is the place to make (or break) a good impression with your customers. A modern IAM solution can remove a significant security risk and impact an organization’s top-line revenue through improved user experiences.  

Streamlined Convenience for Customers 

An increasingly important solution to help organizations provide a positive user experience while ensuring user security and privacy can be easily achieved with Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM). CIAM is how companies give their end-users access to their digital properties and how they govern, collect, analyze, and securely store data for those users. A good CIAM solution is the difference between seamlessly logging in to your favorite health application with social logins, such as signing in with Apple or filling out endless online registration forms to buy a pair of jeans. 

With the threats at scale, securing your users’ digital identity from the start has never been more critical. The best protection against identity attacks like credential stuffing is implementing essential security features and authentication technology. These include multi-factor authentication (MFA), brute force and anomaly detection, and rigorous access control, which help simplify and strengthen identity protection by ensuring only the right users have access to the correct information. 

Let’s take a look at some of the top solutions to consider: 

  • SSO occurs when a user logs in to one application and is then signed in to other applications automatically, regardless of the platform, technology, or domain being used. SSO reduces the number of credentials required to sign in to multiple services to a single certificate, resulting in fewer credentials being lost or stolen.  
  • MFA is a method of verification that requires the user to provide more than one piece of identification, eliminating login credentials as the sole login verification solution, and can reduce the risk of a security breach by 75%. MFA often requires signing in with a password and a one-time code or confirmation on the phone. This method ensures that a stolen credential won’t give hackers automatic access to your users’ accounts. 
  • Passwordless connections allow users to log in without remembering a password. Instead, users enter their mobile phone number or email address and receive a one-time code or link, which they can then use to log in.
  • Biometrics is an authentication feature that enables end-users to seamlessly log in with a biometric identifier—such as facial recognition or a fingerprint—as a convenient and secure alternative to a traditional password. Biometrics is an increasingly adopted solution by companies and consumers alike. A global study found that 44% of consumers admit they are more likely to sign up for an app/online service if they offer biometric authentication.
  • Attack Protection is a proactive threat detection solution that supports the principle of layered protection (defense in depth) and uses various signals to detect and mitigate malicious access, including bot detection, suspicious IP throttling, brute force protection, and breached password detection. According to the 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 89% of web application breaches involve credential abuse (using stolen creds or brute force). 

Security for Today and Tomorrow 

With a Secure by Design philosophy in mind, more products and applications will have the most cautious settings and built-in identity solutions by default. Products should be designed with an agile approach for seamless scalability, allowing security updates to be launched quickly today and flexibility for future changes. By taking a holistic approach to security, an organization can build trust and better protect itself and its employees and customers, now and into the future.


Shiven Ramji