It is well understood in the IT community now that web design and web development are key staples to the success of a website. As such, designing with security in mind is fundamental to harboring a stable and successful business, among other things. What does designing with security in mind entail? Well, we will get deeper into this in the next sections, however, simply put this means having cybersecurity awareness. Cybersecurity awareness is huge in today’s economy, and it is, for all intents and purposes, practically a matter of life and death.
What is this cybersecurity awareness, you ask? The answer to that is simple and can be supplemented with plentiful evidence. Any organization, institution, business, database, academia, or otherwise without a website today is practically dead in the water. Most people would agree to a statement like this. But, what is a website that is designed without security from the ground up? Any website without up-to-date and proper cybersecurity measures is likewise doomed.
Why all the doom and gloom? Well, in case some of you are not privy to this, our world has completely digitally transformed during the last decade. This means that our lifestyles and critical structures have been slowly transferred over to the internet space. This can mean anything from how we conduct financial transactions, to how we communicate with others, to how we learn and store our most valuable data. Furthermore, everything from online shopping to entertainment has been mostly digitally transformed.
Now, there are hundreds of millions of websites dotted all over the internet, which includes everything from major government portals, major businesses to random blogs and forgotten inactive domains. The internet has absolutely everything one can imagine and needs to survive.
Adding to that, there are almost 5 billion of us connected to the internet nowadays across billions of devices. Think about it, 5 billion people interact with hundreds of millions of websites every minute, let alone every day. So, combine this scenario with the thought of a website that is not well designed or secure: this spells catastrophe.
For these reasons, it is crucial to understand what cybersecurity is and how to integrate it into web design.
What is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is a large defense-related IT industry with several sub-industries like network security and information security. It addresses the protection of devices, systems, networks, and supplements all of that with the necessary training and knowledge. This industry provides tools, knowledge, and best practices to several major industries and the gene population.
In fact, several countries hold cybersecurity awareness month and related events and conferences to spread awareness about the topic. Even still, cybercrime-related global risks are now number one on the global risk barometer, so you can pretty well understand just how key it is.
With so much cybercrime abound, and so many opportunities for human error, and now that we depend so much on the internet for our most sensitive and crucial requirements, cybersecurity is more important than ever and is slowly becoming a household name, even taught in schools.
How to Integrate Cybersecurity Into Web Design?
Well, what about web design? Let’s put it this way: a website cannot function without its design elements nor will a website attract any attention if it is not smooth and beautiful.
Secondly, the approach to a website’s design has to have cybersecurity instated from the ground up. The same goes for privacy, as these two sometimes go hand in hand. As paranoid as it may sound, the threat scenarios and risks are just too great to not have a cybersecurity approach and plan when developing and designing a website.
Integrating cybersecurity into web design means several things;
- Ensuring web design aligns with Privacy Policies set by either the website itself or an external organization
- Ensuring that specific design elements of the website are not vulnerable to intrusions
- Maintaining security over the customer database elements of the website
- Not undermining security when the purity of the design is in question
- Providing users with the option to select what happens with their data
- Ensuring that design and software development teams communicate at every step of the process
- Enlisting the help of a third-party security contractor that will audit the privacy and security of a website, as well as to conduct penetration tests
- Updating all software components of the website’s design to the latest versions
- Using secure coding practices
- Understanding internet best practices
- Understanding the risks of third-party software libraries and extensions
The problem is, a lot of websites out there do not meet these criteria and usually fall to some sort of cybersecurity incident involving either a direct cyber-attack or an access-related human error component. Just one vulnerable entry point is enough to bring an entire website down.
Cybersecurity in web design should not be taken lightly, because this can make or break a business.
One should always keep the following principles in mind when integrating cybersecurity into website design;
- Pre-emptive action
- Total security
- Privacy and user awareness
- Lessening data grouping
- Concealment and awareness
This is just one model of approach. However, sticking to a security-from-the-ground-up approach mindset will solve most problems immediately. A secure website will be encrypted, HTTPS-enabled and its data will ideally be stored on an encrypted cloud as well as including a secure offline backup. Both its employees and customers will ideally use safe internet practices and the connection should be end-to-end encrypted. These are simple OPSEC (operations security) stages that utilize common sense and logic.
It is important to understand that threats will come, attacks will occur and human error will show its ugly face at some point when it comes to running a website. However, reverse-engineering the thought process i.e., training for threat scenarios ahead of time and penetration testing as well as auditing everything will yield great results. Good cybersecurity hygiene will future-proof a website and protect all important data as well as protect its customers from harm.