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Cyber Resilience And Cybersecurity: Key Differences And Why Both Are Important

2020-12-11 by Augustina Baker

In recent years, the concept of cyber resilience has risen in cultural currency and importance. While most organizations are familiar with cybersecurity, which is just one part of cyber resilience as a whole, not as many pay attention to the complete picture.

 

Both are critical in today’s data-driven world, and companies from Fortune 500s to small businesses with less than 50 staff need to get their cyber ducks in place.

 

Here, we take a look at cyber resilience, how cybersecurity fits into it, and a few top tools and strategies to build strong digital defenses.

 

What is cyber resilience?

We can broadly define cyber resilience as an organization’s ability to handle a cyber-attack — or attacks in the plural. This encompasses an entity’s preparedness, response, and recovery.

 

In this respect, cyber resilience differs from traditional cybersecurity measures as the latter are predominantly focused on preventing attacks in the first place, never a bad thing but not enough to adequately equip organizations for the fallout that ensues after an attack.

 

Cyber resilience is becoming something of a buzz phrase of late, and with good reason. The number of cyberattacks is on the rise and threat actors are quick to monopolize the increased digitization of our companies and lives in general. As we shift further towards fully online-based transactions, systems, and information banks, there is a greater risk of exploitable vulnerabilities.

 

These days, whether we’re discussing a private e-commerce business or a national power grid’s online servers, all organizations are at risk. Solid cyber resilience strategies achieve three key outcomes:

  • Help organizations prevent attacks in the first place
  • Limit the severity of any successful attacks
  • Ensure the organization’s continued survival post-attack

 

The cost of cyberattacks

It’s tempting to think of cyber attacks as rather like financial hit and runs; a hacker enters a business’ digital world, steals money, and runs away again. But the reality couldn’t be further from the truth and there’s a whole microcosm of digital criminal activity that’s focused on data.

 

For example, a hacker may prefer to steal a company’s clients’ information, which can then be sold to a third party, who may then sell to a fourth party, and so on and so forth.

 

That’s not to say data loss isn’t expensive, it certainly is as companies often have to pay huge regulatory fines for allowing threat actors access to client data. Equifax, for example, paid $575 million for its 2017 breach while Uber’s shoddy handling of the company’s 2016 breach saw the ride-sharing giant shelling out close to $150 million in fines.

 

According to Mimecast’s 2020 State of Email Security report, 31 percent of organizations had experienced some form of data loss due to non-existent or lacking cyber resilience preparedness.

In other attack forms, hackers may use ransomware to lock a company from its data, holding it to ransom in return for financial gain. Or threat actors may halt an organization’s operation or trade through denial of service attacks.

 

Preparedness is key to cyber resilience

It’s often said that a good offense is the best defense, and this idiom certainly holds true when it comes to cyber resilience. Companies need to go on the offense by creating digital defenses of the strongest sort; half-hearted employee training programs, expired security software subscriptions, and weak password policies don’t cut it anymore.

 

Organizations have to create robust cyber resilience strategies — and follow through with those strategies. These should include:

 

  • Detailed risk management plans - Where might an attack come from, which elements of the company’s systems are vulnerable, and which does the company suspect are exploitable? Also, if an attack happens, how will the company respond, who should it report a breach to, and within what timeframe?
  • Running a full suite of security software - Companies should be equipped with Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) for data encryption; antimalware and antiviruses to detect and quarantine known threats; email scanners to discover disguised threats; enterprise-level firewalls to ensure better perimeter security; and other security tools as dictated by an organization’s systems and processes.
  • Training staff properly - One-off training isn’t enough anymore. Instead, employee cyber risk awareness training needs to be ongoing and comprehensive. Companies should ensure that each staff member knows that cybersecurity is everyone’s job, from the COO to the newly hired receptionist, the same rules should apply.
  • Post-attack recovery plans - Plans that detail how a company will regain its standing should it suffer an attack. Information on how recovery will be possible and the steps to take while rebuilding.
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