What is safety by design?

Defining safety by design What is safety by design?

Security by design is a design concept used in hardware and software development. The security of hardware or software is already taken into account in the development process and integrated throughout the life cycle of a product. The design criteria include, for example, minimizing the attack surface, using encryption and authentication, and isolating security-relevant areas. Security is continuously tested.

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Security by design is a design approach in hardware and software development that requires security to be taken into account already in the development process.

Security by Design, also known as Secure by Design, is a design approach from the IT community that takes into account the security of the hardware or software over the entire life cycle of a product. Already in the development phase of a product, emphasis is placed on compliance with security requirements and an appropriate security architecture is implemented. Safety by design spans from the idea generation phase to a product’s completion. The goal is to develop and market products that are inherently free of vulnerabilities and resistant to attacks and other security threats. Thanks to the early consideration of security aspects, high costs to eliminate security weaknesses later in the project and during the use or operation of hardware or software can be avoided.

Due to the increasing merging of IT and OT (Operational Technology), also known as IT/OT convergence, the Security by Design approach is becoming increasingly important for Industry 4.0 processes and the Internet of Things (IoT). The design criteria for secure products include, for example, minimizing the attack surface, using encryption and authentication, and isolating security-relevant areas.

Design principles applied to Security by Design

To develop hardware or software according to the Security by Design approach, different design principles are used. The attack surface is minimized, so the products are inherently secure and resistant to attacks or other threats. This can be achieved by omitting or disabling redundant components. The data or information used or processed by the systems must always be considered to be worthy of protection. Data is encrypted and access is only allowed to authenticated users or system components. Regarding the rights of users or system components, the principle of least privilege applies. In addition, all entries must be checked and only allowed characters or commands allowed. Another design principle in Security by Design is separation of the systems and isolation of security-relevant areas. Regular safety tests must be performed throughout a product’s life cycle. In addition, it must be possible to deliver and import firmware updates, security patches or software updates until the end of a product’s lifetime.

Benefits of Security by Design

Taking into account the safety-by-design approach provides many benefits such as:

  • Reduced risk of security holes and vulnerabilities in hardware and software
  • less likely to fall victim to an attack or other security threat
  • higher quality and robustness of the products
  • Greater customer confidence in the delivered products
  • less cost to eliminate vulnerabilities and security gaps
  • reduced liability risk for companies
  • Avoiding production stoppages in Industry 4.0
  • more security in the Internet of Things


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