Green teams plant the seeds of resilience in cybersecurity
The introduction of "green teams" offers a fresh perspective on cybersecurity aiming to embed resilience from the start.
In the ever-evolving realm of technology, cybersecurity has risen as a formidable giant, commanding over 150 billion USD per year (2022) in an increasingly digital world. From the tiniest bits of IoT devices to the grandest visions realized through AI, our reliance on technology has grown exponentially. However, this progress comes at a cost – cybercrime has surged, causing a staggering 8.4 trillion USD in damages (2022). With cybercrime outpacing efforts to combat it, a glaring truth emerges: We simply aren’t doing enough.
Tackling the root cause instead of taking painkillers would not only be a smart prevention strategy, but also financially sound and beneficial for businesses in digital transition, but over the years most companies have been spending more than 90% of the total cybersecurity budget on painkillers instead. As cybersecurity evolved, we initially focused on defending our assets by building firewalls and implementing anti-virus software. Gradually, we expanded to intrusion detection, process and tool governance, and faster incident response times. Networking vendors and software companies even formed red and blue teams to test their own defenses, eventually merging into purple teams for an all-encompassing security approach.
But as we painted our cybersecurity rainbow with vibrant colors, incidents and damages continued to skyrocket. It seems that we professionals are perpetually playing catch-up with hackers. The crux of the matter is that security must be integrated from the beginning, rather than tacked on as an afterthought. The key to success? Ensuring engineers and software developers design, develop, and deploy solutions with security in mind from the get-go.
Imagine a world where cyber resilience is organically embedded within the development process, where lessons learned from past incidents are systematically integrated into future projects. What if we could update our engineering resources as easily as downloading a new anti-virus signature file? That is the ultimate goal: ensure that every line of code is written in accordance with up-to-date secure coding best practices.
Sustainable resilience begins at the start of a product’s lifecycle. By empowering development teams to code responsibly, we can minimize vulnerabilities and outsmart hackers. Just like we have “red teams” and “blue teams”, picture the formation of “green teams” – groups of developers dedicated to the pursuit of organic security and sustained resilience for all applications and systems. This matches how OWASP (the renowned Open Worldwide Application Security Project) distinguishes security roles between Builders (green), Breakers (red) and Defenders (blue).
Translating these concepts into daily work, we recognize the need to emphasize secure development alongside secure operations. While DevSecOps has emerged, it leans more towards Development and Secure Operations than Secure Development and Secure Operations. This popular cybersecurity approach often falls short in fully addressing the root causes of cyber incidents. Secure development, bolstered by code reviews and static and dynamic code analysis tools, is limited by the knowledge and skills of those who perform the tasks.
These tools often generate false positives, leading to confusion and uncertainty among developers. False negatives, on the other hand, create a dangerous illusion of security. Manual code reviews are less prone to false positives, but their effectiveness relies on the competency of the professionals involved.
Hence, to achieve the desired cybersecurity impact, we instill secure coding literacy, up-skill architects and developers and testers with the current best practices and keep them up to date all the time. In order to be able to manage sustained readiness, we should measure those skills periodically and constantly update the learning curriculum to reflect the ever-changing cyber landscape.
While the term “green” inherently suggests sustainability, true sustainable resilience comes from understanding the economics of software development. Software vulnerabilities are borne of bugs and design flaws, requiring attention and development effort to correct. The later a bug is caught in the software development life cycle, the more it costs to fix. Catching bugs early on in development results in significant savings, providing a compelling return on investment and enabling us to devote resources to genuine cyber resilience.
In conclusion, the green team concept has the potential to fundamentally transform the cybersecurity landscape and encourage transparency, openness, and knowledge sharing among all stakeholders, leading to a more secure and resilient digital ecosystem. By shifting the focus from reactive measures to proactive, sustainable resilience, businesses can minimize vulnerabilities, protect their assets, and ensure the long-term viability of their digital operations. This inclusive approach brings together developers, security experts, and business leaders to create a holistic strategy that addresses cybersecurity challenges at their core.
By embracing the principles of green teams, companies will not only strengthen their cybersecurity posture but also position themselves for success in the increasingly competitive digital marketplace.
Cydrill provides a blended learning journey for software engineers to ensure secure coding readiness, with its gamified environment and content ready to create the future green teams of cybersecurity.