Ensuring data privacy through digital product design
In the modern digital ecosystem where breaches are an increasingly damning reality, ensuring data security with a tailored approach to product design is key.
Such “security by design” approaches, whereby product security is proactively engineered into a digital product in the design phase, is a growing trend, and it can be implemented by organisations in a variety of ways. Below are some tips:
1. Use encryption
Use strong encryption standards to safeguard sensitive data against breaches during both transmission and storage. The level of sensitivity associated with the data should correlate with the complexity of the encryption method employed.
Secure Socket Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TSL) are two examples of encryption standards that can and should be used to encrypt data in transit. When it comes to stored data, adopting a decentralised database is recommended, accompanied by rigorous encryption algorithms for heightened security.
2. Limit personal data collection
Avoid accumulating excessive amounts of irrelevant data as it heightens the vulnerability to potential attacks. This stems from the increased likelihood of housing valuable information for threat actors—an undesirable scenario.
Rather, prioritising the collection and retention of solely essential data is integral to a digital product’s functionality. If unessential, forgo data collection altogether, and curtail the storage duration of sensitive information to diminish the susceptibility of your digital product being targeted.
It is also a good idea to ensure compliance with relevant data protection regulations such as the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) or CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act).
3. Implement secure authentication
If a digital product is the type that requires user authentication, implement more secure authentication methods, surpassing basic usernames and passwords.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) and two-factor authentication (2FA) are two examples of secure authentication techniques that have been shown to block 100% of automated bot attacks, 96% of phishing attacks, and 76% of targeted attacks. While these methods might increase the potential for user lockouts, it’s essential to establish a re-entry process.
To strengthen authentication, users should be encouraged to create strong and unique passwords and use secure password storage methods to protect credentials in the event of a breach.
4. Adopt the least privilege principle
The principle of least privilege states that security architecture should be designed in a way that each entity is granted the minimum system resources and authorisations that it needs to perform its function. In other words, a user is only given access to the functionality it needs to perform its intended task(s).
This principle helps to limit the potential impact of a security breach if a user account or system is compromised and taken over by threat actors because they’ll be limited in what they can see and do.