Is Custom Software Development the Key to Cybersecurity?Submitted by Joshua Maraney
What can your business do to reduce the odds of a cybersecurity attack? Because, while every company is a potential target for hackers or other nefarious individuals bent on destruction, some organisations are at more risk than others. That point was driven home again recently when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)revealed that its EDGAR corporate filing system had been hacked by cybercriminals who illegally downloaded non-public information regarding corporate earnings announcements.
The exact cause of the breach wasn’t revealed, but early speculation suggests that failure to install a software update left the company open to an attack that exploited a vulnerability in Adobe Systems’Flash Player browser plugin. Regardless of the specific circumstances, though, it’s clear that the SEC wasn’t able to keep criminals out of its network. And perhaps more importantly, even after discovering signs of an attack in August 2016, the company didn’t detect the intrusion for another 14 months.
While organisations should always strive to secure their information systems against cyberattacks, perceived breaches can be just as damaging -even when an infiltration never occurs. That’s because the fear of a data breach can prompt companies to take costly preemptive measures, including purchasing new software or hiring consultants to secure their cybersecurity. With some U.S. companies already spending roughly half their revenue on information security, it’s clear that many organisations are losing sight of what matters in their quest to avoid a cyberattack.
Custom Software Development to the Rescue
Fortunately, custom software development can play a significant role in bolstering cybersecurity. By working with a qualified development team, businesses can create applications specifically tailored to their needs and vulnerabilities. That’s not to say that off-the-shelf software is inherently insecure — commercial products can certainly be effective when used correctly. But unlike off-the-shelf apps, custom software is developed to work according to the company’s specific needs. For example, an organisation might work with a software development team to create an application that securely interacts with customers while protecting against potential threats.
With custom software in place, companies can be assured that their systems are always working properly. In contrast, off-the-shelf applications don’t come with as much security as custom software. That’s especially true when those programmes are being used incorrectly. With a development team on hand to install updates, companies can keep their cybersecurity strong without paying the hefty price tag of new software or hiring expensive consultants. In short, custom software development can be a company’s greatest ally when it comes to preventing security breaches. By working with the right development team, businesses — large and small — can create applications that protect their sensitive information from cybercriminals, while eliminating concerns over potential future threats.
Default Security Measures Can Be Costly
Software development companies have been around since the early1970s. It was in this decade that several software engineers and computer programmers got together and decided to start their own company which would provide software solutions to the business community, most of them small businesses at this time. These were exciting times for these entrepreneurs. Some of our modern software development companies such as Microsoft, Apple, and Oracle got their start in this decade.
One of the early challenges these entrepreneurs faced was how to protect the investment they had made in their businesses. Innovation was rampant and cybercrime was just starting to rear its ugly head. It wasn't until 1989 that the first computer virus appeared in the wild. The virus was called Brain and it propagated by infecting boot sectors on floppy disks. It was a cumbersome process to transmit this virus, but the damage that could be caused was serious.
At this time in history, software developers had started to understand that their work would form part of another entity’s infrastructure and they needed to protect their work. It was at this time that the first software developers licenses appeared, called “shrinkwrap” licenses because the software products were wrapped in shrinkwrap plastic and had a printed license agreement on the inside of the package.
With these packages came the first copyright laws and patent protections for software applications. At this same time, entrepreneurs were also coming to grips with the fact that they were going to have to start spending money on security measures to protect their businesses and their customer’s data.
Fast forward a few years to when the internet became mainstream and we can see that these challenges continue to this day. Cybercrime is ahuge business, estimated at over $600 billion per year, and it is only getting worse. To combat this type of crime, organisations need to have the latest security technologies in place. Unfortunately, these technologies can be quite costly.
For example, consider the case of the ransomware attack on the city of Atlanta. The city was infected with ransomware that encrypted their data and demanded a ransom payment to decrypt the data. The city refused to pay the ransom and ended up losing millions of dollars as a result. This is just one example of how cybercriminals can severely damage an organisation by infecting its systems with ransomware. The cost of a ransomware attack can be quite significant. In addition to the ransom payment, there is also the not inconsequential cost of downtime while trying to recover from the attack. As well, there is always a chance that the attackers will simply delete all the files they have encrypted in an attempt to cause even more damage, rendering them useless.
There are other types of security breaches that can be equally destructive. But, the bottom line is that businesses need to protect themselves from cybercrime. The cost of not doing so is simply too high. For this reason, software developers and programmers need to be thinking about security as they develop new applications and update old ones.
This means that software engineers and product managers need to take a holistic approach when developing their products by understanding the risks that cybercriminals pose and how those risks can be mitigated. Here are some important questions that developers need to consider:
What information is included in this application?
- Is this information critical to the user’s business processes?
- If cyber criminals gain access to the user’s data; what would they do with it?
- How could we disrupt or destroy their ability to make good use of the data they accessed?
- What would happen if they deleted all the data?
- Have we protected our applications against denial of service attacks?
- Can the application handle sudden changes in traffic that could be caused by an attack on another site or business process?
These are just some of the questions developers should be asking themselves as they develop new software. However, it is important to note that no single technique can provide complete protection against cybercrime. It is therefore essential for developers to use a variety of techniques, such as encryption, firewalls and intrusion detection systems to build a robust security posture.
Common Causes of Data Breaches
There are several reasons why data breaches occur. Some of the most common causes include the following:
- Malware and ransomware
- Phishing attacks
- Unsecured networks and devices
- Lost or stolen devices
- Human error
- Each of these causes can have a significant impact on an organization. For example, malware and ransomware can infect the organisations network and/or computer systems, using them to attack other sites. Phishing attacks involve attackers targeting people within an organisation. The attackers either use direct methods or social engineering techniques to gain access to confidential information which they later use for their purposes.
Unsecured networks are often the result of insecure devices connected to the network. These devices can be used to gain access to the network and the data it contains. Lost or stolen devices can include laptops, smartphones and USB drives. If these devices fall into the wrong hands, the confidential data they contain can be compromised. Human error can involve people accidentally sending sensitive information to the wrong person or placing it in an unsecured location.
Consequences of Data Breaches
Data breaches can have serious consequences. For example, people whose personal data is compromised may be at risk of identity theft or fraud. They could become victims of phishing attacks, in which criminals attempt to gain access to their bank accounts using email scams containing links to websites designed to look like the real thing. Businesses that experience data breaches may suffer significant financial losses. They may also lose customers who no longer trust the organisation to protect their personal information. Finally, a data breach can damage the organisation’s reputation, resulting in a loss of employee morale and lower employee productivity.
Partner with Trusted Custom Software DevelopersWith so much uncertainty in the world of cybersecurity, it’s natural to wonder if there is a way to be more secure than others. While no one can predict what will happen next, SovTech has developed custom software for businesses that provide them with peace of mind and security. If you’re ready to take your business into the future by having reliable custom software developed just for you, call us today! We'll work with you on an affordable plan that gets things done quickly without compromising quality or functionality.
Top Click MediaJoshua Maraney
Top Click is one of South Africa’s leading full-service digital marketing agencies. Our custom-built, cutting-edge solutions are targetted to help you attract customers, convert leads and grow your business.