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Security-First: Why It’s Right and What It Means

Most businesses today understand that cybersecurity should be a central part of their operations. Still, more often than not, professionals view security as an extra feature, something to add on after settling everything else. This has been the predominant approach for years, and it’s part of why so many companies find themselves vulnerable.

Rising cybercrime has made the need for change increasingly evident, and many companies are responding. According to one study, 55% of global businesses plan on increasing their cybersecurity budgets this year. If all you do is raise your security budget, though, you’re still falling short.

It’s no longer sufficient to view security as an add-on. You must become security-first in every aspect of your business.

What Does Security-First Mean?

Security-first, as the name implies, means considering cybersecurity at the center of every business decision. That applies to obvious areas like software choice and things like your business model, pricing, partnerships and hiring practices.

In most businesses, cybersecurity looks like a wall, a perimeter defense to protect what’s happening inside. By contrast, a security-first approach seeks to ensure safety holistically and from the ground up. Instead of erecting walls around vulnerable operations, it creates processes that are secure by nature.

Being security-first is about restructuring your thinking, so cybersecurity is no longer an afterthought. Instead of determining how to secure a new application after designing it, you’d create it to be safe before anything else.

Why Should You Implement a Security-First Strategy?

Cybercrime is the fastest-growing criminal activity in America. As you become increasingly reliant on digital technologies and data, cybercriminals have more to gain, and you have more to lose. Since these attacks can come from virtually anywhere, you need to ensure all your assets and operations are secure.

When you view security as an afterthought, it’s challenging to ensure your operations are entirely secure. Your perimeter defenses may not be fully compatible with everything else because you didn’t account for them in design. Since security-first decision-making considers safety before anything else, it prevents these unexpected vulnerabilities.

Take email services, for example. In most systems, emails aren’t encrypted by default, so unless users know to turn on encryption, their messages are vulnerable to prying eyes. A security-first approach would encrypt everything from the start to prevent user error from jeopardizing safety.

Cybersecurity is complicated. There are too many factors that could render a system vulnerable for tacked-on defenses to protect against. Considering how decisions impact security from the get-go is the only way to ensure your safety measures are effective.

What Does Security First Look Like in Practice?

The first step to establishing a security-first mindset is understanding that it’s everyone’s responsibility. All employees should receive at least basic cybersecurity training so they can know how their actions impact security.

Try to break the threat-solution cycle. Instead of waiting for a problem to arise to fix it, look at other companies and industries to learn from their mistakes. Seeing where others have created vulnerabilities can help show how to prevent them by design.

One of the best ways to encourage security-first thinking is to frame it as a competitive advantage. Research shows that 79% of U.S. customers won’t buy a company’s product if they don’t trust it to protect their data. Keep this in mind, and publicize your security-first approach as a marketing strategy. It will then naturally become a more central part of your company culture.

Look at security as an asset, not a cost. If any partner, feature, product or service would compromise or even lower your defenses, it’s not appropriate for your business. By contrast, more secure options will help your company, so look for these above other considerations.

Prioritize Cybersecurity Today

Many business leaders would likely agree that cybersecurity is a priority in today’s digital environment. Your actions should reflect that belief. You can demonstrate to your partners and customers that you prioritize security by ensuring it first in everything you do.

Security-first thinking is a necessity in today’s growing threat landscape. Start establishing cybersecurity holistically and from the ground up today to stay safe.

This blog was written by an independent guest blogger.

About the Author: Devin Partida

Devin Partida is cybersecurity and technology writer, as well as the Editor-in-Chief of the tech blog ReHack.com.

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