Ensuring cyber security through custom software development

Cyber security; a critical concern for businesses across all sectors

Custom software development offers a robust solution for creating safe and secure digital environments, and fortifying businesses against cyber threats. 

This guide: 

  • Explores the importance of custom software in cyber security
  • Highlights common security issues that it can prevent
  • Compares off-the-shelf solutions with custom software
  • Provides recommendations on reviewing cybersecurity protocols 
  • Examines bespoke cybersecurity solutions tailored for various industries
  • References notable cyber attacks to underscore the relevance and necessity of robust cybersecurity measures

The importance of custom software in cyber security

 

In the digital economy, custom software development plays a pivotal role in enhancing cyber security for several reasons, there are a number of key areas it can support if you are looking to improve the security of your data, processes, systems, and business as a whole.

Tailored security features

 

Understanding Unique Requirements: Every business has distinct operational processes, assets, and vulnerabilities. Generic software often lacks the specificity needed to secure these unique elements. Custom software development begins with a thorough analysis of your business’s specific requirements. This allows you to integrate security features tailored precisely to your environment, ensuring robust protection against targeted attacks.

Advanced Authentication and Authorisation: With custom software, we can implement advanced authentication methods, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), biometric verification, and role-based access control (RBAC). These measures are designed to ensure that only authorized personnel can access sensitive data and systems.

End-to-End Encryption: Incorporate end-to-end encryption protocols for data at rest and in transit. Custom software allows for the use of cutting-edge encryption algorithms tailored to the sensitivity of your data, ensuring that it remains secure against interception and unauthorised access.

Proactive Threat Detection: Custom solutions can include advanced threat detection systems, leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence to identify and neutralise threats in real-time. These systems are designed to adapt to evolving threat landscapes, providing ongoing protection.

Reduced attack surface

Limited Availability: Off-the-shelf software solutions are widely available and well-known, making them common targets for cybercriminals who exploit publicly known vulnerabilities. In contrast, custom software is unique to your organisation, significantly reducing the attack surface. Cybercriminals are less likely to encounter and therefore target your bespoke system.

Specific Targeting and Obfuscation: Custom software can be designed to include obfuscation techniques, making it harder for attackers to understand and exploit the code. Additionally, the specificity of custom software means that any potential attack must be highly targeted, which is a more resource-intensive process for cybercriminals.

Layered Security Architecture: By developing custom software, we can implement a layered security architecture that is specifically designed to protect your unique infrastructure. This includes integrating multiple security controls and protocols that work together to provide comprehensive protection.

Enhanced control and flexibility

Full Development Oversight: Custom software development offers complete control over the development process. This means you can ensure that security best practices are adhered to from the initial design phase through to deployment and maintenance.

Adaptive Security Protocols: The flexibility of custom software allows for the rapid implementation and modification of security protocols as new threats emerge. Unlike off-the-shelf solutions, which may require waiting for vendor updates, custom software can be swiftly adapted to address immediate security concerns.

Scalable Solutions: Custom software can be designed with scalability in mind, ensuring that as your business grows, your security infrastructure grows with it. This includes the ability to add new security features and expand existing ones without compromising the integrity of the system.

Compliance and regulation

 

Industry-Specific Compliance: Different industries have varying regulatory requirements and standards. Custom software can be developed to ensure compliance with specific regulations pertinent to your industry, such as HIPAA for healthcare, GDPR for data protection, or PCI DSS for payment security.

Audit and Reporting Capabilities: Bespoke software can include detailed audit trails and reporting capabilities that are tailored to meet compliance requirements. This ensures that your organisation can demonstrate adherence to regulations and respond effectively to audits.

Data Privacy and Protection: Custom software can be designed to implement strict data privacy measures, aligning with global data protection laws. This includes implementing data minimisation principles, anonymisation techniques, and robust consent management systems.

Continuous Compliance Monitoring: We can integrate continuous compliance monitoring tools within custom software to ensure that your systems remain compliant as regulations evolve. This proactive approach helps in maintaining regulatory adherence without disrupting operations

Common cyber security issues prevented by custom software

 

By taking some of the steps above and continually maintaining your system in light of new breaches or attacks you can create an agile and  secure system  with custom software development  you can effectively mitigate several common cyber security issues including:

  1. Phishing and social engineering attacks - Custom software can include advanced authentication methods, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) and biometric verification, to prevent unauthorised access.
  2. Ransomware - By implementing robust backup and recovery solutions, custom software can ensure that critical data is not lost or held hostage by ransomware attacks.
  3. Malware and viruses - Custom software can incorporate advanced threat detection and real-time monitoring to identify and neutralise malware and viruses before they cause damage.
  4. Data breaches - Encryption of data at rest and in transit, along with strict access controls, can prevent unauthorised access and data breaches.

DDoS Attacks: Custom software can be designed to detect and mitigate Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, ensuring the availability and performance of online services.

Off-the-shelf solutions vs. custom software

So how does taking a custom approach compare to an off-the-shelf software solution?  In real terms the two options should not be pitted against each other, more so they should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis,  off the shelf systems offer scalable one-stop solutions and offer several advantages, such as cost-effectiveness, ease of implementation, and immediate availability. However, they can come with limitations: 

  1. Generic security measures - Off-the-shelf solutions are designed for a broad audience and may not address the specific security needs of a business. Custom software, on the other hand, is tailored to the unique requirements and vulnerabilities of an organisation.
  2. Limited customisation - While some degree of customisation is possible with off-the-shelf software, it is often limited and may not fully align with a company’s security protocols. Custom software offers complete flexibility to implement bespoke security features.
  3. Dependence on vendors - Businesses relying on off-the-shelf solutions are dependent on vendors for updates and security patches. Custom software allows for timely updates and enhancements as per the organisation’s needs.
  4. Scalability issues - Off-the-shelf solutions may not scale effectively with the growth of a business, whereas custom software can be designed with scalability in mind, ensuring long-term security and performance.

Reviewing cybersecurity protocols

Regularly reviewing and updating cybersecurity protocols is crucial to maintaining a secure digital environment. It is recommended that businesses:

  1. Conduct regular security audits - A six-monthly or annual comprehensive security audit, depending on size and complexity of the business, helps identify vulnerabilities and assess the effectiveness of existing security measures.
  2. Implement continuous monitoring: Continuous monitoring of networks and systems enables real-time detection and response to threats.
  3. Update software regularly: Regular updates and patches are essential to protect against newly discovered vulnerabilities.
  4. Train employees: Regular training sessions on cyber security best practices help employees recognise and respond to potential threats.

Review access controls: Periodically review and update access controls to ensure that only authorised personnel have access to sensitive information.

Bespoke cyber security solutions for various industries

Different industries face unique cybersecurity challenges, with pressure points for attacks being focused in different areas depending on the sector a business operates, we have summarised some of the key areas that key sectors need to keep a close eye on:

1. Retail:

 

  • Payment security: Custom software can integrate advanced payment security measures, such as end-to-end encryption and tokenisation, to protect customer payment information.
  • Fraud detection: Machine learning algorithms can be implemented to detect fraudulent activities in real-time.

2. Property and real estate:

 

  • Data privacy: Custom software ensures the protection of sensitive client data through robust encryption and access controls.
  • Smart contract security: Blockchain technology can be used to secure transactions and agreements, ensuring tamper-proof records.

3. Manufacturing:

 

  • Industrial control systems (ICS) security: Custom software can secure ICS against cyber threats by implementing stringent access controls and real-time monitoring.
  • Supply chain security: Ensuring the security of the supply chain through advanced tracking and verification systems.

4. Business services:

 

  • Client data protection: Implementing robust encryption and access controls to protect sensitive client information.
  • Secure communication channels: Developing custom communication tools with end-to-end encryption to ensure secure information exchange.

Notable cyber attacks: lessons learned

Understanding past cyber attacks can help businesses improve their cybersecurity strategies. Recents notable examples include:

Snowflake - as a data as a service provider to some of the world’s leading and most trusted companies, such as Ticketmaster and Santander, Snowflake has a duty to ensure a top cyber security posture rating. Sadly, the third party supplier was recently attacked by threat actors in a money motivated attack, seeing thousands of consumers’ details stolen and held to ransom. 

Synnovis - the major lab service provider to the NHS experienced a ransomware attack which led to thousands of medical appointments and proceddures being cancelled. The cyber crimnals that stole priveae patient details published them on the dark web in a bid to force the NHS to pay its financial balckmail demands  

The UK Ministry of Defence - the British ministerial department was targeted by cyber criminals, who attempted, several times, to hack the organisation’s payroll details, including names and bank details, of current and former armed force personnel.

Read more about high-profile cyber security attacks and why they keep happening.

Andy Brown, Director at Propel Tech, says:

“Custom software development is a powerful tool in the fight against cyber threats, offering tailored security solutions that address the specific needs and vulnerabilities of businesses.

By reducing attack opportunities, providing enhanced control and flexibility, and ensuring compliance with industry standards, custom software can significantly bolster a company’s cybersecurity protection.

Regularly reviewing and updating cybersecurity protocols, along with leveraging bespoke solutions tailored to industry-specific challenges, is essential to maintaining a secure digital environment, and learning from past cyber-attacks further reinforces the need for robust and proactive cybersecurity measures.

In a world where cyber threats are constantly evolving, custom software development stands as a critical component in supporting and protecting businesses and their digital assets.”

Propel Tech specialises in developing and maintaining secure software for businesses across many industries, including real estate, retail and manufacturing, and harnesses decades of experience to maximise the  efficiency and safety of essential systems. Talk to Propel Tech.

Author: Andy Brown
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