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What is Cyber Resilience?

Cyber resilience is a relatively new term if compared to something like cyber security. But given the current security scenario, cyber resilience is well on its way to becoming a fundamental need to businesses and organizations across the board.

What does Cyber Resilience Mean?

To keep things concise, cyber resilience is an estimate or approximation of how well an organization can manage an all-out cyber-attack or data breach while still conducting its business effectively.

Cybersecurity infrastructures in most cases put in place policy-based security to protect an organization against cyberattacks or to raise alerts when a threat is identified. But a valid question remains that can critical business processes like finance, customer-facing services, and supply chain can still take place during a security breach?

In this sort of scenario, cyber resilience shines. Cyber resilience aims to make sure that business operations are protected against all manner of threats and data breaches. Cyber resilience also ensures that an attack does not put the entire operations of a business on hold.

What Does a Cyber Resilience Do?

Cyber resilience enables organizations and enterprises to continue their day-to-day and essential operations even if a cyberattack is underway or that there has been some form of a data leak.

In today's rapidly evolving information and security landscape, giving organizations the ability to fend for themselves and to be in a position to continue providing services is incredibly beneficial for the organizations themselves.

How Does Cyber Resilience Work?

Cyber resilience is a comprehensive strategy because it combines different elements of cyber security, business process and continuity management, and organizational endurance, enabling businesses to continue their operations in the unfortunate event of a negative event like an information breach or online attack.

A security incident or a disruption in standard business operations can lead to a significant loss of organizational prowess, regulatory fines, and damage to the organization's brand. The longer it takes to recover from a negative event and get the business up and running again, the greater the negative effects will be for the organization.

However, giving businesses the ability to prevent security lapses and breaches while responding quickly to incidents that can't be prevented ensures that the business as a whole will only have to deal with minimal financial and dent in reputation.

What are the Benefits of Cyber Resilience?

Cyber resilience has a lot of benefits for organizations. So much so that all medium and large-scale organizations should consider looking into cyber resilience on the same footing as cyber security.

Here are some of the benefits of cyber resilience:

  • Continued operations: Even in the case of a cyber-attack, if a company has cyber resilience policies in place, then the company will be able to continue its operations and not come to a complete halt.
  • Satisfied partners and customers: Business is all about building and maintaining relationships. By employing a cyber resilience policy, business partners and customers will be facilitated at the same time.
  • Limited financial loss: While there is a high likelihood that a successful cyberattack will incur significant financial loss, employing a cyber resilience strategy and policy will help limit that loss and give the organization some relief even when under attack.
  • Improved organizational image: As mentioned earlier, in today's security landscape, avoiding cyberattacks and preventing them will only do so much. A cyber resilience policy will help ensure that your organization does not have to bear the brunt of an online event.

Why is Cyber Resilience Important?

Cyber resilience is important now more than ever because conventional defense mechanisms and security measures are not strong enough to guarantee adequate information, network, and data security.

It is safe for organizations and IT departments to work under the assumption that their defenses are bound to be compromised and that their organization still somehow needs to cope and continue their regular operations as seamlessly as possible.

The fact of the matter is that cyber events like breaches, coordinated or uncoordinated cyberattacks can and do negatively impact the reputation of the business. What in turn happens is that the organization's competitive edge, public perception, and availability of day-to-day operations are put into question.

Organizations do not only have to look out for intentional attacks and attempts, but they also need to ensure that they are ready to deal with internal or external human error or crises like a natural disaster, etc.

What is the Difference Between Cyber Security and Cyber Resilience?

Cybersecurity is the practice of safeguarding computer systems and networks from incidents such as data leaks, theft of or damage to their physical assets and infrastructure, software, or online information, as well as from the unwarranted stoppage of the services that systems and networks combine to provide to their users.

Cyber resilience on the other hand realizes and accepts that no matter how many cybersecurity solutions are in place or how they are optimized for an organization's defense, there is still a chance that the systems will be compromised due to a cyber threat.

By design, cybersecurity strategies aim to reduce the risk of online attacks penetrating or causing damage. But when these unfortunate incidents do ultimately happen, the cyber resilience strategy is in place to limit and minimize the impact that these attacks might have on the organization as a whole.

This makes financial and business sense for every organization to cover its bases and ensure that the organization can defend and withstand an attack.

Is Cyber Resiliency a Replacement for Cybersecurity?

Cyber resiliency is by no means a replacement for cybersecurity.

One of the main reasons is that cyber resiliency is basically like a contingency plan in the case of a cyber-attack. Cyber resiliency in itself does nothing to prevent the attack from ever taking place, but instead focuses on what happens next and how an enterprise can react to it.

Cybersecurity on the other hand plays an equally vital role in identifying attacks and defending the physical and digital assets, including data, from the harms of a cyber attack.

What are the Common Cyber Resiliency Threats?

There are several things that cyber resiliency protocols and strategies need to take into account. Cyber resilience has to deal with several threats and still provide an organization the skill set it needs to keep operations open.

Here are some common cyber resiliency threats:

1. Hacktivism

As you can guess from the name itself, Hacktivism is a mixture of hacking and activism. The term Hacktivism is originally thought to have been first introduced by the hacktivist group Cult of the Dead Cow.

Hacktivism is an activist act that is by nature social or political and is put into motion by breaking into and wreaking chaos on a secure computer system.

Hacktivism is typically directed at enterprise-grade or government targets. The hacktivist people or groups that carry out these sorts of acts are addressed as hacktivists. A hacktivist can target different organizations and have different goals in mind for each attack.

Some common methods employed by hacktivists can include distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, information theft, website altering and defacement, viruses and computer worms that propagate protest messages, commandeering social media accounts, and stealing and releasing sensitive data.

2. Cyber Espionage

Cyber espionage is the practice of acquiring secrets and data without the consent or permission and knowledge of the owner of the data from relevant targets including individuals, business competitors, anti-narrative groups, hostile governments, and enemies for individual, economic, social, or military gain.

Cyber espionage is done by employing methods on the Internet, networks, or individual devices through the use of malicious software(including viruses and spyware, proxy servers, and numerous cracking techniques.

Modern systems that are connected via the internet can completely be perpetrated online from the remote bases of professionals in different countries. Cyber espionage can also be carried out via infiltration of a site by trained spies and assets and then accessing the target's device or network.

3. Business Continuity Management

Business continuity management is another area that malicious actors will target when they choose to go after an organization or to raise public awareness for whatever agenda they are trying to push to the masses.

Throwing a wrench into a business's processes is a threat that all businesses need to be aware of and have a plan to deal with. A halt in continuity can take place at virtually any time and often be catastrophic depending on the industry an organization is in.

4. Cybercrime

Cybercrime is a modern kind of criminal activity that requires a computer system along with access to a network. The devices and systems that may have been used for the execution or even planning of a crime, or the device itself in some cases can be the target.

Although the cyber prefix in cybercrime can give unaware individuals the impression that it can only harm someone's online security, it also can undermine an organization's financial prowess as well as its reputation in the industry.

There are many information and privacy security concerns when it comes to cybercrime. When secret or non-public data or information is acquired or disclosed, it can have an incredibly negative effect on both individuals and businesses.

On an international level, it is observed and understood that these sorts of nefarious online activities can take place at the behest of governments or even non-state actors. These individuals engage in cybercrimes that can include serious crimes like espionage, financial data theft, and other cybercrimes that span borders.

Cybercrimes that are done with the intent of causing harm to another country and across international borders sponsored by at least one state are also referred to as cyberwarfare.

The WEF (World Economic Forum) 2020 Global Risk report concluded that organized cybercrime groups are combining their efforts to carry out criminal activities online while predicting the probability of their detection and legal prosecution to be less than one percent in the USA.

How to Improve Cyber Resiliency?

Improving cyber resiliency is not an easy or immediate task. It takes time for organizations to develop and ensure that the strategies they put in place can defend them and provide continuity in the case of a negative event.

Here are the three ways that organizations can start improving and working towards building their cyber resilience capacity:

  • Implement a secure remote working environment:

Secure remote working needs to protect employees, systems, confidential and business-related information, and partners. With the recent strides in infrastructure deployed recently, it is now a valid option for businesses to adopt this as a viable option.

Companies need to make sure that there is adequate security monitoring for the organization and that endpoints are protected and reserved from authorized devices only. Companies also need to ensure that their employees are protected and use only scanned and approved connections.

  • Develop a comprehensive incident response plan:

Preparation is key when responding to business hindrances especially when company data and information, as well as reputation, are at the stake. A pivotal step in achieving cyber resilience is obtaining professional advice when building the team's response capability and the process of developing a Business Continuity Plan (BCP).

  • Build an evolving cybersecurity strategy:

Cyber resilience requires continual improvement and the capability to adapt to change and at a very rapid rate if needed. Maintaining and updating a comprehensive cybersecurity improvement and development program is necessary if the organization wants to avoid risks and minimize their impact.

Organizations need to leverage security professionals and domain experts to gather requirements, configure and test all-encompassing communications, VPNs, and cloud solutions. Business leaders also need to make sure that all new environments are configured and reviewed by trained cyber security professionals from a security perspective.

What Is a Cyber Resilience Framework?

A cyber resilience framework is a vital component of modern-day business, especially the ones that are in high-risk sectors or have a large customer base to deal with.

Given the context of ever-increasing threats against companies from malicious software like malware, phishing, and even well-coordinated groups that employ new methods to take down security infrastructure, a cyber-resilient organization can position itself as a trusted and secure model for data protection giving its partners and customers the confidence that they need to do business and to establish critical trust.

However, contrary to the naive approach of developing security infrastructure, cyber resilience is not dependent on having the most advanced tools (but having access to them does certainly help).

In most cases, enterprises and organizations the fact that cybersecurity doesn't fail because of technological mishaps or lapses but instead the workers and staff are the cause of security lapses.

Here are the five components that are the standard and that any cyber resilience framework needs to have:

1. Respond

Responding to a security lapse or something of a similar nature that has the potential to disrupt business operations is the number one thing that cyber resilience has to deal with.

The ability to respond to such incidents promptly is key.

Businesses need to make sure that they can confidently respond to such incidents and that their operations need to get on track as soon as possible.

2. Detect

Detecting anomalies and unusual events and suspected data leaks or breaches well before any major damage is inflicted are critical to business continuity., which is one of the main goals of cyber resilience.

Detection not only requires that the organization employs the best software and tools, but also demands that the security and surveillance of the organization are closely monitored at all times.

3. Recover

Recovering any damaged or tampered with data or assets is vital to make sure that the business can go back to normalcy. The need to restore any affected physical or digital infrastructure, capabilities, or services that had been compromised during a cybersecurity lapse is great.

Organizations need to focus on making a timely recovery if they want to get back to work and avoid any backlash from partners or customers.

4. Protect

Protecting critical infrastructure services and assets that facilitate business functions needs to be protected. Organizations need to put in place the first line of defense and then work towards increasing those defenses over time.

Once a standard line of defenses has been formed the organization will be able to prevent and negate much of the impact that a potential or active threat might have against them.

5. Identify

Organizations need the ability to identify critical assets including devices and the network, systems, and data. The enterprise must have a very clear understanding of the resources that support all critical functions of the business and allow them to continue working even when under attack.

What is Cyber Resiliency Techniques?

Cyber resiliency techniques are the methods and ways that an organization can put into practice its cyber resiliency policy.

Here are some cyber resiliency techniques:

  • Deception: This technique focuses on fooling the opposing party. It helps organizations cloak their assets and present a far different picture in terms of security capabilities when it comes to security.
  • Privilege Restriction: Privilege restriction helps limit the access to resources and assets for different users based on their need for that information or access.
  • Adaptive Response: Adaptive response helps to optimize the IT infrastructure of an organization and its performance within a specified time to ensure business continuity.
  • Diversity: Having a diverse variety of assets in the form of heterogeneous systems and infrastructure will help reduce single points of failure and will also make the opposing party's task more complex as they would have to deal with multiple systems and assets that are different from one another.
  • Redundancy: Redundancy ensures that the business is still able to function even if one system has been compromised as there are different measures in place that have multiple instances of business-critical resources.
  • Segmentation: Segmentation deals with categorizing and differentiating system elements based on how critical they are to the business and their trustworthiness.
  • Dynamic Positioning: Dynamic positioning increases the business's ability to rapidly recover from a non-adversarial incident meaning that in the case of an earthquake for instance the business will be able to bounce back since it has put in place distribution and diversification of the network.
  • Dynamic Representation: Dynamic representation keeps a representation of the network at its current state. It gives professionals an enhanced understanding of the dependencies among cyber and non-cyber resources and also brings to light the patterns and behaviors of opposing parties.
  • Non-Persistence: Non persistence focuses on creating and retaining resources as per the need of the organization for a specified time. Reduced exposure to corruption, alteration, or compromise gives organizations greater flexibility in how they plan to deal with their adversaries and respond to the situation.

What are the Four Elements of a Successful Cyber Resilience Strategy?

A successful cyber resilience strategy needs to take a variety of factors into account if it aims to help businesses in times of crisis.

There are four elements that a successful cyber resilience strategy needs to have:

Four Elements of a Successful Cyber Resilience Strategy

Figure 1. Four Elements of a Successful Cyber Resilience Strategy

1. Identify and Detect

Identification and detection of threats within a cyber resilience strategy encompass the actions and methods in place to identify and categorize vulnerabilities across an organization's networks and information systems.

The identify and detect elements need to consist of both automated security tests and active detection by professionals monitoring networks and assets.

2. Respond and Recover

The respond and recover element within a cyber resilience strategy focuses on making sure that the business continues its operations and that an incident response management program is already set in place for these kinds of situations.

This is vital to ensure that the operations of the business carry on even in the event of a cyber-attack or other nonadversarial disruption and that the organization can move towards normalcy as fast as possible.

3. Manage and Protect

The manage and protect element within a cyber resilience strategy focuses on adopting a set of processes as a policy measure to protect a business from cyber attacks, online harm, system failures, and unauthorized, non-warranted access.

This requires a broad range of defense mechanisms that cater to not only technology but also to people and processes.

4. Govern and Assure

The final stage and element that a cyber resilience strategy needs to have is the ability to make sure that the methods employed by an organization are in line with all the necessary legal and regulatory requirements, including the cross border legislation like the GDPR, PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) and NIS Regulations.

The govern and assure stage needs to put in place an all-encompassing risk management program and a continuous improvement mindset. Organizations should get board-level commitment to maintaining these and have in place an internal audit to determine their cyber resilience capability.