When it comes to juggling multiple projects, there are a number of different things for managers to consider including budgets, timings and, crucially, security. Any changes within the project or smaller initiatives can have a significant impact on risk posture and if these risks aren’t identified and dealt with early on, projects may end up over budget, delayed or even brought to a complete standstill.

Therefore, Security Assurance should be a top priority– particularly when working on transformational projects. Security Assurance needs to be baked into requirements (or Epic), design, sprint (Agile) and change activities – where the changes in risk are assessed and mitigating controls applied.

Whether the project aims to move apps into the Cloud or deliver an essential upgrade to Cloud-based business systems, transformational projects warrant special consideration for maintaining confidentiality, integrity and availability.

There is potential for a breach any time information is stored or shared – and IT project documentation frequently includes intimate network and systems details, which present an attractive target for hackers. As projects develop, the attack surface also changes and controls often get relaxed; however, tight controls should be increased and maintained throughout the entire project cycle.

However, many companies are significantly underprepared in this area – leaving them unable to adequately safeguard their systems and data.

Plan of action

In order to properly arm themselves against attacks, it is vital that managers work together with Information or Cyber security specialists to understand the Information and Cyber risks associated with any given project. Once these are understood, managers can begin to create an appropriate plan to mitigate risk factors and ensure the safety of confidential data.

Appropriate measures should then be taken to fortify systems against identified risks. Security can be an enabler of and contribute to the profitability of a project – whilst also helping to control costs and minimise any negative impacts that might deflect from the ultimate project goal, in some cases.

To ensure security is always a top priority, it needs to be integrated and maintained at every level of the project. This might involve anything from limiting data access to authorised individuals only, setting up two-step verification processes and encrypting files and communications to implementing appropriate security software solutions, offering training to team members and upgrading networks and systems regularly to ensure they are utilising the latest safety features.

We take a look at three steps managers can take to minimise risks when managing IT projects…

  1. Controls and requirements

Before undertaking any transformational project, it is important to have clear controls in place. Most companies will already enforce certain requirements, but project managers should also consider whether any further, more specific safety measures are needed – for example, due to the nature of the data being shared or a client’s own security preferences.

Even the most robust defences can be taken down using stolen credentials, so adequate protection and measures to secure passwords are essential. For instance, team members should be required to update their passwords frequently and create strong passwords which make use of two-step verification. Controls regarding encryption and the sharing of information can also help reduce the risks of a breach and keep communications secure.

In order to control and automate the building, testing and deployment of applications, it may also be worth using a Continuous Integration or Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipeline to bridge the gap between development and operations teams – helping to enable fast product iterations, provide standardised feedback and remove manual errors. For example, online triage tool Asure automates the assurance process and provides project managers with a 360° view of security risks associated with change and transformation.

  1. Application security testing and code scanning

Advanced software plays a big part in maintaining security. Fortunately, we are now in a better position to evaluate and mitigate risk than ever before thanks to an increasing number of application security testing and code scanning tools on all systems software and infrastructure.

  1. Championing security

No matter what type of project you’re working on, ensuring all team members are fully aligned and adequately trained is imperative; this is especially true when it comes to Security Assurance and managing risks. Through proper training, team members will be better equipped to identify risks and understand the measures needed to minimise them – allowing them to take responsibility for and champion security individually as well as collectively.

A crucial skill for any project manager is the ability to foresee risks. But they are not expected to be security experts. This is why it is worth seeking the help of a Cyber security specialist to ensure project goals are met, whilst keeping systems and information secure. Security should also always be planned upfront, during the initial stages of a project, so as not to impact time and cost further down the line.

Burning Tree is uncompromising when it comes to cyber security. Please get in touch today to find out how we can help you minimise risks through our advanced Consulting Services and innovative Technology Solutions – so you can get on with managing all the other aspects of your project.