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Security by Design – a human-centric approach

In this step we review how humans impact cyber security.
Group of people sitting around desk working

It is well-known that the weakest link in the cyber security landscape is actually humans. The World Economic Forum found in 2022 that there are over 2,000 cyber attacks striking the internet per day and that 95 percent of all cyber security issues can be traced to human error (WEF, 2022).

Being human, we are all fallible and data breaches can occur due to human error, regardless of whether the person is a user, an employee, a contractor, or a cyber security implementation or maintenance specialist. Cyber criminals understand this and craftily use social engineering tools, such as phishing, to lure unsuspecting humans to provide access to information and to facilitate their criminal activities.

Sometimes all the technical security safeguards in the world might not be enough if those who use devices, systems and applications are not cognisant of the very real dangers associated with ‘letting cyber criminals in via the back door’.

Security by Design is both a human-centric and technical approach to online security that in part aims to overcome human deficiencies in interacting with applications used, helping to minimise and eliminate data breaches. Data breaches can, for example, occur due to:

  • A limited understanding of the application or device
  • Locating and tracking features built into the application or the device
  • Challenges encountered while performing complex technical tasks
  • The inability to identify potential errors that were not detected by the quality checks, or
  • Not applying regular security patches.

Putting stringent security safeguards in place and ensuring continuous education and continuous testing of employees is critical in ensuring online security. The key is to develop human-oriented systems for online products, services, applications and the like. The challenge is to ensure that anyone who interacts with products and services in the digital environment understands how cyber security works and why it is so critical to their online safety and security.


Watch this video A Simple Guide to Security by Design for Product Makers (5:56 min.) which explains issues that could be mitigated by software developers applying Security by Design from the outset.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

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Security by Design

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