How to stay secure in today’s increasingly agile world

Date: 15 December 2017 Author: David Webb

With high profile data breaches regularly hitting the headlines, it’s no surprise that cyber security is at the forefront of every CIO’s mind.

As cyber criminals get savvier than ever before, you may start to feel that no company’s IT infrastructure is safe. It’s not just the severity of these threats, but their diversity. As a result, even NATO has added cyber weapons to its armoury.

Now, throw your increasing reliance on the agile methodology into the mix. While this process may bring tangible benefits to your business, you may start to worry that your IT security strategies cannot keep up with its high velocity demands.

However, achieving agile security is a challenge that your business must face by integrating cloud-based tools. These will deliver speed and accessibility to your network security strategy, which are traits that match the agile philosophy. We’ll talk about the importance of the cloud networking in more detail later. However, here are our tips on how to stay secure in an increasingly agile world:

  1. Change the mindset of your staff

In the rush of a sprint, it can be easy to lose sight of your security strategies and flexible working

policies can exacerbate the issue. But you must make sure that every member of your development team is aware of your security practices - and adheres to them.

You should have mobile security policies in place to ensure the safety of your data when your staff are working remotely. As more of your organisation’s services are available online, you’ll also need network security procedures to ensure that access to your data is as secure as possible.

These must all be underpinned with user education of potential security threats and a robust set of security best practices. You could, for example, introduce a DevSecOps approach (where security is intertwined with your DevOps) to your security teams. This will help your staff to continuously iterate and deploy new products and services, akin to the agile methodology.

 

  1. Adopt an API-driven security strategy

There are two major benefits to implement an API-first security approach. First, you can integrate new solutions or features without disrupting your IT infrastructure or your developers. You have essentially removed the human element, so your staff no longer need to manually log into a console. Second, your API brings automation to your development lifecycle and you will, therefore, realise huge time savings (more on this later).

What’s more, by integrating your API with the cloud, you will further benefit from crowdsourced threat detection, unprecedented scalability and community immunity through shared threat intelligence.

 

  1. Create a dedicated team to combat any issues

By introducing a rapid response team whose sole responsibility it is to tackle security, you’ll not only gain a competitive advantage, you’ll also let your staff retain their focus on their work and the sprint’s objectives.

Your dedicated security team can continuously measure, test and monitor your IT infrastructure. You could even outsource this work to a professional team, such as a third party IT managed services provider.

 IT infrastructure

  1. Use the cloud

Cloud-based technology ensures your IT security is dynamic and it creates a “Security as a Service” offering. It’s a logical move for your business as data and applications are now more portable and distributed across a wide variety of networks.

The cloud can match this agility and creates further benefits for your business. The simplicity, scalability and performance of cloud-based security solutions can protect you against DDoS attacks, for example. Cloud-based providers will also have significant expertise and experience, which they can draw on to provide compliance and mitigate future attacks and reduce the impact on your customers.

 

  1. Utilise a code driven security IT infrastructure

Your IT security should not be repeatedly built from scratch. Such a strategy is a complete waste of time and resource.

Conversely, Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is a powerful new concept where you put all your infrastructure resources into your code. You then deploy your infrastructure in a similar way to a code deployment, using the agile methodology of continuous integration and deployment.

Furthermore, code driven security allows for an automated build and management of your security systems.

 

  1. Enable automation in your IT security strategy

 

Automation will streamline and strengthen your incident response process to give you a more robust line of defence.

Your IT infrastructure is up against advanced persistent threats and these attacks are no longer carried out by human assailants, but by automated bots. By building automation into your IT security strategy, you’ll stand a better chance against such intensive, sustained attacks because your human staff are simply not capable of keeping up with the sheer volume of incoming threats.

Essentially, you’re fighting fire with fire, where your good bots battles against those that want to do your business harm.

 

  1. Ensure you have support from key stakeholders

As with any business initiative, you will need support from key stakeholders. It shouldn’t be a difficult premise to achieve buy-in for the concept of an agile security team that can keep pace with your organisation.

After all, the high profile cyber security attacks on big name brands over the last few years clearly demonstrate the devastating effects cyber criminals can inflict on your business.

 

There will, of course, be challenges when you try to stay secure in an increasingly agile world. However, cyber security cannot be ignored and neither can the ethos of an agile environment if you want your business to survive and thrive in the years ahead.

 

If you’d like more information on cyber security and the risks to your business, click here to read our comprehensive guide to cyber security.

Guide to cyber security