Written By: Contender Solutions
Businesses often face cyber threats. Cybercriminals often target a company’s data so they can steal sensitive information and use it to turn a profit. Other times, they may try to render a business incapable of operating normally. Either way, businesses need strong cyber resilience and cyber security to weather the storm of threats that they face.
In some ways, cyber resilience may be more important for a business than cybersecurity alone.
What is cyber resilience? How is it related to (but different from) cybersecurity? What are the benefits of having a strong cyber resilience framework? Most importantly, how can you create strong cyber resilience to protect your business?
What Is Cyber Resilience?
Cyber resilience is a term for an organization’s ability to keep important applications, systems, data, and digital services online in the face of various cyber threats, system failures, and other unplanned events.
According to antivirus provider Webroot, cyber resilience “can be thought of as digital fitness.” A digitally-fit and resilient company has a better chance of weathering IT incidents that would normally result in service outages than a company that isn’t.
How Cyber Resilience Differs from Cybersecurity
While there is significant overlap between cyber resilience and cybersecurity, they aren’t quite the same thing. Cybersecurity policies, tools, and procedures can play an important role in cyber resilience.
As noted by UpGuard, “An organization is cyber resilient when they can defend against cyber threats, have adequate cybersecurity risk management, and can guarantee business continuity during and after cyber incidents.” This close relation and the use of security tools for ensuring resilience may explain why the two terms are often conflated with one another.
So, what is the distinction?
Where cybersecurity is primarily concerned with preventing or remediating cyber threats to protect a company’s IT systems and data from abuse, cyber resilience focuses a bit more on minimizing the impacts of unexpected IT incidents on the business. In other words, cyber resilience is more about business continuity while cybersecurity is about mitigating cyber risks.
Common Cyber Resilience Threats
Some of the biggest threats to an organization’s resiliency for its IT systems include:
- Cybercrime Activity. Cybercriminals are one of the biggest and most consistent threat to any business’ cyber resiliency. From political “hacktivist” groups that carry out DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks to for-profit criminals who use ransomware to threaten companies into paying extortion and thieves who steal data for personal gain, there is no end to the threat that cybercrime poses.
- Natural Disasters. There is always a risk of a natural disaster impacting a business and robbing it of the ability to deliver IT services and resources. Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and electrical storms can all easily cause damage to critical IT infrastructure and shut down a business’ IT-dependent services.
- User Error. With how complicated some IT networks and solutions can be, there is always a risk of user error resulting in the loss of important data or the accidental shutdown of critical services.
- Lack of Redundancy. Cyber resiliency relies heavily on an organization having backup systems for all of their most important IT assets. Having a “single point of failure” (meaning something that, if it stops working, the whole IT solution stops working) is a massive liability for cyber resilience strategies.
- Lack of Response Planning. Incident response plans (IRPs) can be a crucial tool for both cybersecurity and cyber resilience. However, many businesses don’t have a well-documented plan for responding to cyber incidents. This can slow down a company’s response time and increase the impact of an incident—thus reducing the company’s cyber resilience.
3 Benefits of Cyber Resilience
Why would a business invest significant capital, time, and resources into improving its cyber resilience? There are a few reasons that doing so is worthwhile:
Improved Business Resilience
Strong cyber resilience can help a company improve its business resilience. By proactively acquiring solutions to minimize the risk of IT service outages, companies can avoid the high cost of downtime.
How much does IT network downtime cost? While the actual numbers can vary depending on the nature of the outage and the company, estimates from organizations like Gartner state that the cost of network downtime is around $5,600 per minute, or over $300k per hour.
Using business resilience-improving solutions like remote data backups or secondary production environments can cut the time it takes to recover from a cyber incident down from hours to mere minutes. If a service outage would normally last for a full 24 hours, but only lasts one hour with a remote data backup, then the company would save roughly $7,728,000.
Reduced IT Risk
Cyber resilience can be key for improving IT risk management. By proactively identifying potential vulnerabilities that could impact IT solution stability, organizations can reduce the risk of IT failures.
Increased IT Service Uptime
Companies with strong cyber resilience and integrated risk management solutions are more likely to have a high uptime/availability for their services than companies without high resilience.
Higher service uptime translates into an overall better user experience, which can help with customer retention and adoption of key IT services by both internal and external users.
The IT Governance Cyber Resilience Framework: 4 Essential Components of Success
So, how can you create strong cyber resiliency for your own organization? There are four critical pillars for strong cyber resilience:
Manage and Protect
Cybersecurity is a critical component of effective cyber resilience strategies. So, it should be no surprise that being able to manage and protect IT systems is key for ensuring resiliency.
Specifically, it’s important to ensure that only authorized users can access important systems and data—which often calls for user authentication solutions (like multi-factor authentication) and access control solutions.
Additionally, it’s important to keep a list of all the assets on the IT network and check them for vulnerabilities and single points of failure so they can be addressed properly.
Identify and Detect
If there’s a problem on the network, such as an active cyberattack, and you don’t have a way to detect it, that can be a serious gap in your cyber resilience strategy. Aside from malicious threats, servers or other assets on the network may experience slowdowns or failures because of regular wear and tear.
So, having a solution for detecting anomalous activity or sub-optimal performance on the network can be crucial for ensuring cyber resilience. With a strong detection solution, it’s possible to identify problems quickly and take steps to remediate them before they can negatively impact the business.
Respond and Recover
Does the organization have an incident response plan ready to go? Does it account for what every team member should do during a service outage or other emergency? Having a plan in place to speed along the organization’s recovery can be critical for minimizing the duration of a service outage and increasing cyber resiliency.
Govern and Assure
Who is in charge of managing the organization’s resilience strategy? What policies and tools are in place to ensure that the company’s resilience strategy can be acted on?
Governance is crucial for any long-term, large-scale initiative. So, assigning roles and responsibilities to ensure top-down oversight and adherence to the different components of the cyber resilience strategy (data backups, business continuity plan, incident response plan, etc.) is vital for maximizing resiliency.
What Makes for a Successful Cyber Resilience Strategy?
Part of implementing a successful cyber resilience strategy calls for addressing the four pillars of resiliency outlined above. Some more specific measures that a business might need to take include:
- Acquiring Strong Business Continuity Solutions. A successful plan for resilience requires having the right tools. Business continuity solutions like remote data backups or secondary production environments can help ensure business continuity and resiliency if something happens to the main production environment that could cause permanent data loss.
- Ensuring Everyone Knows Their Role. Simply creating a resiliency plan isn’t enough. Organizations need to provide training and guidance to help ensure that everyone from front-line employees to organizational leadership know what to do in case of a cyber incident.
- Acquiring IT Monitoring Tools. Having solutions such as security information and event management (SIEM) or other tools that can monitor IT environments is crucial for cyber resilience. With effective monitoring, early warning signs of imminent failure can be captured more reliably—which can be useful for proactive remediation of issues that could impact IT service reliability.
- Leading by Example. Leadership in the organization should demonstrate good cyber hygiene to employees. This helps reinforce the importance of avoiding IT risks and makes getting buy-in from the employees easier.
- Continuously Revising Resilience Plans. Cyber threats are constantly changing. So, it’s important to continuously review and revise resiliency plans and tools in light of new threats. This way, the business can be better prepare for an incident.
- Documenting All IT Assets and Processes. To protect every important IT asset or piece of data on a network, it’s necessary to know what’s on the network. Arranging the IT assets on a network into an asset map—and then assembling a formal documenting the processes for using those assets—can both increase cyber resilience (by helping find potential vulnerabilities) and help with some compliance standards.
These are just a few of the measures needed to ensure a successful cyber resilience strategy that can help your company protect itself from IT incidents. If you need more help with building cyber-resilient business processes, reach out to the Contender Solutions team!