Developing products is a common first step startups take when establishing their business. We often hear from startups who intentionally put off integrating security into their products until the product is near completion. While we understand a startup’s need to save time and money, pushing off security can actually lead to higher costs in the long run. Believe it or not, we have witnessed businesses that did not address security requirements from the start have to rebuild apps from scratch, resulting in wasted development costs of +$100,000.

Instead of attempting to bolt on security once your product is completed, consider security requirements from the very start. Think of product development security in the same way you would secure your house. It’s logical to run security system wires during your home construction but wait to hook up your service until you are ready to move in. By staging the process, it saves you the expense and headache of tearing down your walls to run wiring after you have moved furniture into your home.

This idea of a staged-approach to implementing security applies to developing products as well. Ensuring your software is built securely from the start is key to keeping long-term product development security costs down. As your business grows, additional layers of security can be easily added.

Product Development Security Tip: To avoid expensive product development mistakes, make sure security is considered from the start and approached in manageable phases. Follow these simple steps at the earliest stages of product development to avoid costly missteps:

Step 1: Plan your product design and business model. What type of data will you store? Where will this data be stored? Which third party APIs will you connect to? How will your business get paid? All of these questions and more come into play when planning for security. Creating wireframes (schematics of the functional elements of your product) will help you and others visualize how the product will function and identify key security considerations. Understanding your business model will also help you identify your security risks and may effect how you choose to do business.

Step 2: Read up on your compliance requirements. Once you understand what types of data your product and business will store, you will be able to determine which security compliance standards your business may need to follow.

  • Accepting credit card information? Be aware of PCI DSS.
  • Entrusted with health records? If yes, understand HIPAA and HITECH.
  • Storing social security or bank account numbers? PII laws will apply.
  • And the list continues!

Step 3: Interview your potential clients about their security needs.Speak with potential clients and ask about the security needs they have for your product. Will they be looking for a product that meets security compliance standards, like PCI DSS or HIPAA/HITECH? Will they require your product to meet any sort of certifications, like ISO 27000 or SOC2? Knowing this in the early stages of development will help save time and money in the long run!

Step 4: Seek third-party advice. Security experts can advise startups on what to consider when selecting potential development contractors or employees. Even if you are not a “tech person”, knowing the questions to ask and the responses to look for can go a long way to ensuring your product is in good hands.

Step 5: Choose developers that understand security. Secure coding is a key skill that many product developers are not well-versed in. Before hiring a developer, make sure you ask them about their secure coding practices and their ability to design products that meet your business’ security needs. Consulting with security experts before any interviews will come in handy!