Cybersecurity Is All About Confirming Good Engineering
How today's focus on cybersecurity is helping revive the technical rigor and robust engineering practices that were so critical during the industrial revolution.
Understanding Cybersecurity Assessments and Good Engineering
Cybersecurity assessments are crucial procedures that help organizations identify potential vulnerabilities in their IT systems, thus maintaining a robust defense against cyber threats. However, these assessments are not merely about 'confirming' the state of an IT system's defenses; they are inherently about confirming good engineering.
Robust engineering, a concept with its roots in the industrial revolution, has become more important than ever in today's digitized world. It refers to the practice of meticulously designing, building, and maintaining systems with emphasis on durability, dependability, and fault tolerance. The case we present here is straightforward: If proper engineering practices are followed, validating the security of a system becomes less of a daunting task and more of a trivial confirmation.
Engineering Principles and Cybersecurity
The heart of good engineering lies in its emphasis on building systems that are robust and resilient, which interestingly parallels many of the security control families that NIST utilizes as part of its 800-53 guidelines. A well-engineered system inherently incorporates measures for securing data, ensuring confidentiality, maintaining integrity, and guaranteeing system availability. These are areas addressed directly within the NIST 800-53 guidelines, with control families such as Access Control, Identification and Authentication, and System and Communications Protection.
In addition, good engineering practices focus on building systems that are reliable and fault-tolerant, inherently aligning with the NIST 800-53 guidelines around Contingency Planning and System and Information Integrity. Robust engineering designs systems to be resilient, capable of withstanding and quickly recovering from failures or attacks, mirroring the objectives of the Incident Response and Recovery Planning controls of the NIST framework.
The Role of Good Engineering in Simplifying Cybersecurity
The integration of robust engineering principles in system design and implementation can significantly streamline cybersecurity assessments. An IT system engineered with security in mind from the outset is more likely to pass a cybersecurity assessment with flying colors than a system where security controls were an afterthought.
Robust engineering demands a design-to-last approach, a focus on quality, and an understanding of the system's lifecycle, which all correspond to important facets of a cybersecurity assessment. In such a context, the assessment serves more as a confirmation of security rather than a burdensome evaluation.
Reviving the Spirit of Robust Engineering
While robust engineering has been a significant practice since the industrial revolution, it has seen fluctuations in its emphasis over the years. However, with the rise of cybersecurity threats, the need for this practice is resurfacing. The rigorous design, implementation, and testing processes that characterized industrial-era engineering are once again gaining traction, thanks to the push for greater cybersecurity.
Today's cybersecurity focus compels organizations to return to the basics of robust engineering. It drives home the idea that preventing security incidents is not just about responding to threats but building systems resilient enough to withstand them. Cybersecurity is no longer an isolated domain but a fundamental element in all stages of the engineering process.
Bringing it Back
As we increasingly rely on IT systems, integrating robust engineering principles into our cybersecurity strategy is non-negotiable. These principles serve as a solid foundation for building secure, reliable, and resilient systems, making cybersecurity assessments less of an ordeal and more of a validation process.
The growing emphasis on cybersecurity is, in a way, a catalyst for a renaissance of robust engineering. Just as the industrial revolution changed the course of human history, today's cybersecurity revolution is shaping the future of IT systems, underscoring the timeless value of robust engineering principles in building a secure digital world.