Red TeamingJan Kahmen9 min read

Error culture in the IT department - How an open Approach to Errors Promotes the Security Level of Companies

The reasons for penetration testing are numerous and yet, from a legal perspective, they are often in a gray area.

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Current Examples Show: A wrong error Culture in the Company also always hits the wrong People

An open error culture ensures that programmers are allowed to make mistakes. Nevertheless, this error culture does not help everyone: it happens again and again that programmers discover extensive data leaks. A recent example of this is the data leak from the company Modern Solutions. Instead of fixing the errors and being happy about the tip-off, it happens that companies decide to report the affected person: even when no actual attack took place, as was the case with Modern Solutions.

Ethical hackers don't have it easy, despite responsible disclosure. The reasons for penetration testing are numerous, and yet they are often in a gray area from a legal perspective. For example, if you accidentally file a report against an ethical hacker, you can't subsequently withdraw it. One way to increase security is to have a responsible disclosure agreement. This is a term used in IT security. For you, this agreement means that an independent IT security expert will uncover security vulnerabilities in your programs and disclose them exclusively to you.

Positive Error Culture - That's why your IT Security in particular Benefits from IT

In IT, errors are commonplace - so dealing with them properly is all the more important. Numerous of these inconsistencies arise from stress and are self-made. Accordingly, with the right error culture, they can also be rectified independently. However, this is only possible if employees dare to talk about it openly. Otherwise, another security gap could arise within your company.

"You can only learn from Mistakes" - more than just a Hollow Phrase

A solution-oriented error culture minimizes economic damage and makes work easier for all employees. Almost everyone is aware that mistakes are human, but they are too rarely taken into account in the company. The fact that one can learn from mistakes is also sometimes forgotten. Nevertheless, especially in development, it is the common mistakes that show employees how they can improve their own knowledge and skills. However, it is important that they are acknowledged and rectified as part of the error culture - only then is a learning process possible at all.

"Ignoring errors in IT has Consequences

Most often it is fear that has a negative impact on the full disclosure of security vulnerabilities. The reason for this is often an error culture that looks for someone to blame rather than solution-oriented approaches. Errors in IT can have serious consequences: from the loss of sensitive data to a bad image for the company and high follow-up costs. This makes a balanced, employee-friendly and open error culture in IT a central aspect that should not be neglected in the company.

Promote a positive Error Culture: Finally Address Problems in the IT Department!

A successful error culture is one of the most important features in IT. It is also an important component of agile working methods and ensures that IT staff can focus on finding and eliminating errors. In this sense, the allocation of blame that was common until recently is rather obstructive and by no means desirable in a modern error culture. Many companies are therefore choosing to view mistakes not as a disgrace, but as a learning method.
In this context, it is always important for managers to recognize problems in the IT department, analyze them and solve them consistently. This does not only include current errors in the software: An agile learning process requires that the team can work independently - also in troubleshooting.
However, a typical problem in the IT department is time pressure. Combined with the stress between further development and day-to-day business, errors sometimes arise that can have serious consequences. This makes it all the more important to solve problems in the IT department immediately - regardless of whether the problem is a lack of personnel or a lack of expertise. In this way, a solution-oriented error culture can be specifically promoted.

Provide back-up as the Boss

For a new error culture to take root, you need backing from the boss. Your employees need to be aware that they will not face personal consequences should they address a mistake or try to fix it. That's why adhering to an appropriate error culture is not only the responsibility of employees, but also of management.

Teamwork instead of Experimenting alone

The right error culture is best lived out in a team. This requires a resilient relationship of trust between individual team members. Once this trust is ensured, the fear of making mistakes decreases. It is therefore important that such mishaps are discussed openly within the team - otherwise the desired error culture can hardly be established. In this context, it makes sense for the team to work together to find and fix a mistake.

Guide for error Culture in the Company: Define your Error Management

Establishing a new error culture is not always easy. Nevertheless, it should be clear to everyone involved what to do in such a case. The basis for this is a guideline for error management. As soon as it is available to all employees or team members, they have the necessary basis to fully exploit their personal area of competence. However, this requires a precise definition of how to respond to current and old errors.

Create a new Mindset, Leverage Potential

Once you realign your company's error culture, security awareness increases in IT as well as the rest of the business. The reason for this: you break through the previous thought patterns in which the fear of errors has become entrenched. This means that your employees are no longer afraid to report errors or actively search for vulnerabilities.
At the same time, it increases the rationale for penetration testing. After all, if your company has a small IT department with a negative error culture, third-party services are unlikely to be accepted. With a well-developed error culture, on the other hand, full disclosure is no longer a problem - in fact, you can exploit your full potential.
Also pay attention to errors in customer communication
Although most errors occur in development, a good error culture also helps you in sales. After all, errors in customer communication can occur just as easily. In this case, the misunderstandings would possibly lead to wrong services, causing you to suffer a financial loss. Nevertheless, a positive error culture is also necessary at this point, where you talk to your customer about the errors at eye level and look for a solution together.

Conclusion - Mistakes happen for a Reason and are a good learning Opportunity!

An open error culture is particularly important in IT: it takes the explosive nature out of actual errors and makes it possible to learn from them. The right error culture also succeeds in taking the emotional burden off your employees so that they can act in a more relaxed manner and are not afraid to admit mistakes.
It is also important for the error culture in the company that the necessary competencies are in place: They can be used to detect and correct errors. If you do not have sufficiently trained personnel, an ethical hacker is an alternative. Such IT specialists know how to analyze existing systems and identify potential security gaps. For example, regular pentests can help increase the error culture and security awareness.
It also makes sense to participate in a bug bounty program. Independent third parties try to find potential sources of errors and inform you and your company about such security gaps. For their efforts, the volunteer testers receive a bounty, which can vary depending on the program and their own capabilities.


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