What exactly is cyber resilience anyway?

By Adil Siddiiqui

The world of cybersecurity is complicated, to say the least. From the terms that we all use to the threats that those terms, in turn, represent when mitigating the risk of attacks, to the endless list of threat types that impact daily global business—there is a lot to consider and a lot to translate.

With that, one of the terms that is seemingly ever-present but often misrepresented is that of cyber resilience, and rightfully so. On the surface, the term itself denotes a stance that companies need to take, suggesting that being well defended at all times is a necessity—not an option. And, for all intents and purposes, that sentiment is bang on. However, it goes far deeper than that.

Cyber resilience is not just an ideology, it is, in fact, a state of readiness that has been tried, tested, and tested again to ensure that a business can maintain operational functions in the midst of a potential or real-time attack.

For instance, in the world that we now all live in, cyberattacks are a constant. The question is no longer “will an attack happen,” it’s when. Therefore, taking a hard-line stance on cyber resilience—knowing that all mission-critical systems can remain operational during even the worst of scenarios—is a must. This means ensuring that even components within the infrastructure that could be considered insecure are now secured.

First and foremost, this includes customer-facing processes and systems. The last thing any company needs to experience is the loss of customers—and therefore revenue—due to an attack. Having the right infrastructure in place, paired with a myriad of cybersecurity processes and products, can ensure that resiliency, as it pertains to the customer, is at the ready.

Furthermore, there are obviously other mission-critical systems that need to be addressed, as they are critical components of a proper cyber-resilience plan. Finance, operations—even communications like email and phone systems—should be taken into consideration when developing a hard-line–reliant stance. This will ensure the business can weather an attack without loss of daily critical functions.

So where does one start and finish when planning threat-protection protocols? Cyberattacks are increasing fourfold year after year—a direct result of an arms race between the introduction of new and exciting technology and cybercriminals who wish to take advantage of this new technology. Therefore, an old-school approach to security, such as basic measures like firewalls and anti-virus solutions, will not work.

Organizations must instead take a holistic approach to cyber resilience, one that addresses EVERY aspect of how business operates in the modern world. Having solutions in place, such as endpoint detection and response, will enable the monitoring of the network as a whole, along with all associated endpoints. This will also allow for deeper analysis through analytics to enhance everything from initial detection through to alerts, investigations, and remediation.

Then there is recoverability. Making sure the organization can recover and return to a normal state of operation is paramount. Running tests and simulations will go a long way toward ensuring that everyone is ready to react in the right way every time, expediting the recovery.

Adaptability is yet another crucial part of cyber resilience. As mentioned, as technology evolves, so do the criminals. Making sure that IT security staff are continually well educated and kept up to date on emerging threats will ensure that cybersecurity practices can effectively change and adapt with the times.

Lastly, there is durability. Companies need to consider the entirety of what a cyberattack means to the business. Though technical in nature, it can impact a wide variety of a business’s drivers that must be considered, including financial—and even social—aspects. Making cyber resilience a part of all business units and not just an IT-related practice will help companies defend against attacks and even recover faster in worst-case scenarios.

In all, every organization must ready itself on all fronts at all times. By doing so, resiliency becomes a reality and not just something to strive for after it’s too late.