Steps for the proactive preparation and reactive cyber-resilience
The exponential growth of cyber threats has turned cybersecurity from a mere IT consideration to an essential facet of every organization’s strategy. The numbers continue to offer a disturbing insight into the cyber-resilience of organizations. Half of US internet users experienced account breaches in 2021. In 2022, 39% of UK businesses faced cyber attacks [CyberSecVentures]. Shockingly, 10% of US firms lack cyber attack insurance. In the first half of 2022, cyber crimes impacted over 53 million Americans. Last year, a lack of cyber-resilience cost each UK business an average of £4200 [Proofpoint].
Today, the question is not ‘if’ but ‘when’ an organization will face a cyber-attack. The difference between a significant breach and a minor inconvenience often lies in how organizations approach cyber-resilience.
Amid the pandemic, the shift to remote work led to a surge in cyber threats, with malware attacks rising 358% in 2020 over the previous year. Global cyber attacks soared by 125% in 2021, persisting into 2022. The Russia-Ukraine conflict further amplified the threat, causing an eightfold spike in Russian-based phishing attacks against European and US businesses, and a noticeable 11% quarterly rise in breaches for Russian internet users in early 2022 [Ponemon].
Cyber-resilience is not just about having the best defenses but also ensuring that when breaches do happen, the organization can recover quickly with minimal disruption. This blog post’ll give an overview of the steps organizations should take to bolster proactive preparation and foster reactive resilience against looming cyber threats.
Cyber-resilience is the convergence of cybersecurity and business continuity. While cybersecurity focuses on protecting systems from breaches, cyber-resilience takes a holistic view, focusing on how an organization can continue its operations seamlessly even in the face of cyber-attacks.
Steps for Proactive Preparation
- Identify Assets: Begin by taking stock of all digital assets, including hardware, software, data, and networks.
- Prioritize by Importance: Not all assets are of equal value. Rank them based on their criticality to the organization.
- Identify Potential Threats: This includes everything from DDoS attacks to ransomware to insider threats.
Continuous Training and Education
- Regular Training Sessions: Keep your team updated on the latest threats and preventive measures.
- Simulated Phishing Attacks: Test the staff’s awareness levels and refine training modules accordingly.
Establishing and Regularly Updating a Cybersecurity Policy
- Clear Guidelines: Ensure every team member knows the steps to protect digital assets.
- Regular Reviews: As the threat landscape evolves, so should your policies.
- Update Regularly: Ensure all software, especially security software, is regularly updated.
- Multi-layered Defense: Use zero trust methodologies, firewalls, regulatory best practices, encryption, application mapping and microsegmentation, and intrusion detection systems to provide multiple layers of security.
Back-Up Data Regularly
- Frequent Backups: Ensure all data is backed up regularly, either on the cloud or on to external “off-site” drives.
- Test Recovery: Occasionally test the backup data to ensure it can be restored effectively.
Steps for Reactive Resilience
Incident Response Plan (IRP)
- Clear Steps: The IRP should outline clear steps to be taken as soon as a breach is detected.
- Roles and Responsibilities: Assign specific roles to team members during a breach to ensure a coordinated response.
- Internal Communication: Ensure all stakeholders, from employees to board members, are informed about the breach’s status and implications.
- External Communication: This includes notifying affected customers and possibly the media. Clear, transparent communication can help maintain trust even in challenging times.
Recovery and Restoration
- Immediate Action: Contain the threat immediately, whether that means isolating parts of the network or taking systems offline.
- Data Restoration: Use backed-up data to restore any lost information.
Review and Learn
- Post-Incident Review: Once the immediate threat is dealt with, conduct a thorough review and replay incidents to better understand the breach’s cause.
- Update Policies: Use the lessons learned from the breach to update your cybersecurity policies and training programs.
Embracing a Culture of Cyber-Resilience
Building a cyber-resilient organization goes beyond policies and infrastructure. It requires cultivating a culture where every team member understands the importance of cybersecurity and is committed to upholding it.
Putting it All Together for Cyber-Resilience Best Practices
When cyber threats aren’t just persistent but also evolving, cyber-resilience is no longer optional. By embracing proactive preparation and ensuring reactive resilience, organizations can not only defend against cyber threats but also ensure that when breaches do happen, they bounce back stronger and more informed than before. Building a cyber-resilient organization is a continuous journey, one that requires commitment, adaptability, and a clear understanding of the ever-changing cyber landscape.