Cybersecurity & Project Management – Why Cybersecurity Is Becoming Paramount In Project Management Irrespective Of Agile Or Waterfall

Project Management is a necessity in today’s business environment for generating plausible results. It could be building a new CRM system or moving your existing infrastructure to the cloud. Undertaking a project without knowledge of cybersecurity can have disastrous repercussions. It leaves the organization open to exploitation by malicious actors. Despite organized project management methodologies like Agile and Waterfall, cybersecurity has a critical role in project management.

Understanding Security By Design

The general tendency is to consider cybersecurity as an afterthought in development. Therefore, you find cybersecurity experts addressing existing vulnerabilities and patching up security holes in network systems frequently. Such an approach to cybersecurity is like a hit and miss approach that can never be effective in the long run. Therefore, the focus should be on designing systems to be secure right from its conception.

Security by design is a calculated approach to hardware and software development where the focus is on making these systems free of vulnerabilities and threats. The objective is to make the systems impervious to attack by employing risk-mitigation measures like continuous testing, adherence to the best programming practices, and introducing authentication safeguards.

Understanding security by design is a crucial aspect of cybersecurity in project management.  

Cybersecurity In Agile Project Management

Whenever there is any discussion on project management plans, the standard methodologies that come to mind are Agile and Waterfall. Agile differs from the Waterfall methodology in the way that it breaks the project into individual deliverable pieces rather than creating a timeline for a consolidated plan. Therefore, cybersecurity in an agile environment entails formulating a comprehensive approach to identify gaps. As the project progresses in stages, it is necessary to ensure security at every step of the development. Therefore, cybersecurity in Agile Project Management includes investing in automation for penetration testing and application scanning and simulated attacks. The advantage of cybersecurity in agile project management is that it allows the business to change, implement, and enhance the attacks to improve cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity In Waterfall Methodology

The Waterfall methodology adopts a sequential approach of breaking down the entire process into seven phases. The setting is such that it has to be completed in the specific sequence alone. One cannot start on a subsequent stage before completing the previous steps. Therefore, security by design occupies a significant place in cybersecurity in the waterfall methodology. It involves a specific phase for testing to use methods like user testing, bug testing, and others. If there are cybersecurity issues detected at this phase, one must go back to the earlier stages and fix them. Compared to cybersecurity in agile project management, cybersecurity in the waterfall methodology can be tedious.

Challenges & Opportunities For Project Managers

Cybersecurity is a critical aspect of every project, irrespective of the sensitivity of the data dealt with by the organization. It can insult the project management skills if the project ends up as a weak link in the organization’s cybersecurity policy. Therefore, project managers have to overcome the following challenges and take advantage of the opportunities present in these challenges.

  • Project managers should not assume that cybersecurity is someone else’s problem. Yes, there might be a separate cybersecurity team in the business hierarchy. However, the project’s responsibility rests entirely on the shoulders of the project managers. Therefore, they should coordinate with the cybersecurity team and ensure that every member of the project team is aware of the threats and know how to plug the gaps.
  • Project managers should establish a common risk management approach to deal with threats. Though the cybersecurity approach is different from that of the project management plan, they should know how cyber adversaries can exploit the project’s vulnerabilities. Therefore, adequate risk planning should be done at the onset of the project, instead of tackling threats as they come along.

A successful project manager knows the cybersecurity risks of a project and deals with the entire project from the angle of cybersecurity. Organizations look for such qualities when advertising for project management jobs.

Challenges & Opportunities For Organizations

Organizations deal with several projects at a time. Hence, they should take a macro view of cybersecurity issues that can affect the organization at various stages during its functioning. In the project management vs program management debate on cybersecurity, organizations should focus on program management because a program consists of several individual projects.

  • Organizations should look at integrating security at every stage of the project instead of taking knee-jerk decisions regarding cybersecurity. Security by design should be an ideal example to follow for organizations.
  • In the age of transparency and GDPR, data security is a serious issue. Cybersecurity can be expensive, but the cost of a data breach can be bank-breaking. Concentrating on the cybersecurity aspects at every stage can help in the accurate calculation of the ROI.
  • Security at every stage includes general security such as registration and authentication safety, access management, fire safety, and attack prevention. Infrastructure security entails the protection of media files, corporate devices, intrusion detection, and system hardening.
  • Organizations should also look at aspects like wireless security and communication safety, including email communication, voice calls, instant messengers, and remote working options.
  • Organizations should formulate operational safety guidelines for the entire team to follow.
  • Cryptography consists of ensuring the encryption of data on the project and the confidential communication materials.

A cybersecurity expert should know all these aspects discussed above when applying for cybersecurity jobs in government organizations. These jobs are in high demand with the pay for cybersecurity jobs being among the best in the industry.

Final Thoughts

One can sum up by saying that every employee in an organization should be aware of the cybersecurity challenges present in each project. Any compromise on this issue can have severe repercussions with stringent regulations in place. Ensuring the security of customer data is of paramount importance for any organization. Therefore, irrespective of the project management methodologies like Agile or Waterfall, cybersecurity in project management has tremendous significance.

About Author

Vikas is a technology enthusiast working with a leading IT company based out of Noida, India. Having 15 years of versatile experience in IT industry working with different domains functions ranging from a client-facing developer role to working in Human Resource’s team as Manager for Matrix & Reports/Dashboards for global & regional HR leadership. Currently, Vikas is working as Project Manager and exploring how Cybersecurity can enhance the end user’s or client’s overall experience.

LinkedIn – Vikas Gautam


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