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WithSecure forges ahead with green coding initiative

WithSecure’s W/Sustainability programme kickstarts a number of initiatives, including a commitment to green coding the security supplier hopes will set an example for others to follow

Finland’s WithSecure has revealed details of its global sustainability programme, committing to operating as a more ethical, equitable and environmentally responsible organisation, including progress towards so-called green coding.

W/Sustainability is designed to embed sustainability and transparency into the cyber security supplier’s strategy and operations, and was designed based on input from customers, investors, business leaders and its own employees.

“Protecting digital society is our most important contribution to a more sustainable world,” said WithSecure president and CEO Juhani Hintikka. “However, we don’t want to stop there. Our W/Sustainability programme ensures that sustainability is embedded in all our decisions, and that the impact of these activities is transparent in our reporting.”

Based on the feedback received during the consultation, WithSecure has organised the W/Sustainability programme into three themes:

  • Creating a safer and greener digital world – by minimising the energy consumed by its solutions and services while still maximising security outcomes for users, and sharing cyber knowledge with those in need of it;
  • Creating a truly equitable workplace – by empowering WithSecure employees to bring their best, true selves to the workplace, maximising opportunities to learn and grow in their careers;
  • Creating a responsibly run business – by maintaining impeccable ethical standards when it comes to choosing partners responsibility and minimising its environmental footprint wherever and whenever possible.

The organisation has already established a number of initiatives under the auspices of the programme.

These include new partnerships that allow WithSecure’s own experts to provide pro-bono cyber support to at-risk organisations, such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and charities working with vulnerable communities; and a team-up with renowned Finnish sailor Tapio Lehtinen, who will be competing in the Ocean Globe Race 2023 (formerly the Whitbread Round the World Race) on the Galiana, promoting sustainability and climate justice.

Green coding programme

It has also set up a new green coding programme that is trying to measure and reduce the amount of energy consumed in the software lifecycle. This programme covers three core elements – optimising cloud capacity, optimising availability zones and releasing green software.

WithSecure said that as a public cloud user, it recognised it had a responsibility to use cloud capacity more responsibility, and given its products consume vast amounts of cloud processing power, it has expended significant time in optimising its cloud usage and reducing its hosting costs, which it said has cut its cloud-related carbon footprint by 35% in the past 12 months.

It was able to achieve significant event count reductions by automatic filtering of events by rate, limiting and deduplicating at the edge, and making improvements to manual filtering, reducing event counts before any heavyweight data processing capabilities came into play.

It improved backend efficiency by reviewing data retention period and reserved instance utilisation, and then made architectural improvements – such as minimising expensive traffic and storage classes, to better optimise energy consumption and cost – as a result of which the cost of every million events dropped by a quarter last year.

The firm then optimised availability zones by pushing its data processing work to Europe and US-based datacentre operators that have committed to using renewable energy sources, and has now established the expectation that its suppliers will wherever possible move their operations towards renewable sources.

Computer Weekly IT Sustainability Think Tank

Finally, WithSecure set out to “green” its software through the introduction of a new framework enabling it to measure endpoint energy consumption in a standardised environment, which allows it to make meaningful comparisons between newer and older software releases.

It is now regularly measuring release versions of its products against this framework and comparing these to the 2022 baseline, and expects “significant effects of scale” across the six million customer endpoints it watches over. WithSecure is further planning to improve its automatic upgrade policies to avoid the need to expend energy on supporting legacy backend systems running old versions, and pushing more energy-efficient software versions to customer endpoints quicker.

It is also working with government agencies to develop standards on energy efficiency for software products, and training its own programmers on green coding best practice.

WithSecure head of product management Leszek Tasiemski has led on the firm’s green coding efforts, and said other software suppliers could benefit from doing similar.

“As of today, there are no independent standards when it comes to energy efficiency of software, which I think makes the opportunity to create more sustainable code easy for engineers to miss,” said Tasiemski.

“But I’m hoping that as our own solutions demonstrate the potential to measure efficiency and eventually save energy through more sustainable coding practices, more companies will consider implementing a similar approach to their own development operations,” he said. “We are open to collaborate on this initiative with other vendors.”

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