Today’s tech-driven world means more business operations than ever before are relying on systems and digital assets to innovate and function effectively. But with digital transformation comes added cyber risk, so it is crucial for businesses to implement measures to safeguard against these prevalent threats.
This means ensuring solid security is maintained, as cyberattacks like malware, phishing, and ransomware can happen at any time and cause significant damage to an organization’s finances, productivity, and reputation.
Consider the infamous attack on the major US fuel pipeline in Houston, Texas, on May 7th of 2021. This devastating ransomware attack forced the company to shut down operations, leaving half of the East Coast of the US in the lurch for refined oil and causing serious disruption to people’s daily lives. The Colonial Pipeline attack was a security disaster, stemming from insufficient security measures and exacerbated by the company’s lack of a contingency plan.
One lesson that organizations should take from this story is the importance of both protecting against cyberattacks and preparing a cyber resilience strategy to respond and recover from them.
In this article we will explore the terms “cybersecurity” and “cyber resilience” to discover their differences, their similarities, and how they should be used together to support organization-wide security.
Cybersecurity Vs Cyber Resilience: Are They The Same Thing?
While the terms “cybersecurity” and “cyber resilience” may appear interchangeable as they both relate to cyber safety and embody the goal of safeguarding against cyberattacks, they are not quite the same.
A simplified definition of the two would describe cybersecurity as a collection of technologies and actions undertaken with the goal of mitigating security risks, while cyber resilience refers to the organization’s ability to recover data, avoid service disruption, and mitigate overall damages and while ensuring a successfully recover from adverse cyber events.
The differences in these two terms emerges from the fact that cybersecurity can be inadequate. No matter how much and time and resources your security team pours into cybersecurity, there may always be a vulnerability left unchecked. Cyber resilience involves putting organizations in a position to overcome these insufficiencies, stop cyber incidents, and pick themselves back up if a cyber threat does manage to slip through security controls.
Cyber resiliency and security have a lot in common and are complementary to one another. By learning their definitions and differences, organizations can better understand how to use them together to ensure strong data protection, protect networks and avoid devastating breaches.
What Is Cybersecurity?
When we talk about “cybersecurity”, we are referring to the various technologies, human activity, processes, methods and governing policies put in place by security teams to protect an organization’s digital assets, computer networks and systems against cyber attacks.
The purpose of a cybersecurity strategy is to reduce the risk of cyberattacks occurring in the first place by protecting entities, organizations and individuals from deliberate or accidental insecure actions which may lead to a breach. There are a lot of ways we can achieve the desired high level of cybersecurity protection, including:
These kinds of cybersecurity protocols put organizations in a much healthier cybersecurity position, especially when used together. Covering all areas where a potential breach might occur is the crux of cybersecurity; however, no defense is ever 100% sound and hackers are constantly altering the threat landscape with new and innovative threats designed to allow them access to sensitive information.
This is why we also need to have cyber resilience.
What Is Cyber Resilience?
The ever-evolving nature of cyberattacks means we can never fully close the door against any and all potential threats. There will always be new ones popping up that we won’t recognize or new twists on old tricks that we aren’t prepared for, so we need to be ready to recover fully and efficiently. Cyber resilience involves accepting that breaches are unavoidable and choosing to prepare for the event ahead of time.
”Cyber resilience” is an organization’s capacity to prepare, respond, and recover when a cyberattack is successful. Becoming cyber resilient means having precautionary measures in place which, if a breach does occur, help to mitigate the impact. These measures support business continuity, reduce loss of productivity, and help the organization to get onto the path to recovery more quickly.
Some of the measures that organizations can take to build cyber resilience include:
- Have a strong business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) plan in place
- Have a public relations strategy in place to ensure a swift response in the event of a cyberattack, to preserve customers’ trust and minimize reputational damage
- Make sure there are offline backup functions in place
- Keep the company response sharp by reviewing overall preparedness through regular simulations, analysis, and testing
- For offices, make sure there is a backup generator available
As well as lessening the damage of a cyberattack and allowing organizations to resume productivity more quickly, good cyber resilience also helps to better protect against future vulnerabilities.
Cyber resilience measures also make it easier to oversee and observe the aftermath of a cyberattack, allowing organizations to apply what they learn going forward and develop a stronger defense system.
Building A Cybersecurity and Cyber Resilience Program
So, what steps can businesses take to cover both cybersecurity and resilience? Organizations looking to integrate their security and resilience strategies should follow these three steps:
1. Regularly Backup Data
Any organizations that suffers a cyberattack will want to resume normal operations as quickly as possible. Loss of productivity and extensive downtime can be detrimental to a business’ earning potential and its relationship with clients, so minimizing the amount of time it takes to get back to normal is vital.
Many organizations have found themselves in the unfortunate situation of having their network hit with a successful ransomware attack, leading to all important data being encrypted and hackers demanding payment of the hefty ransom for the safe release of that data. If these organization had kept thorough and regularly updated backups on a separate network, they would be able to recover quickly and resume normal productivity without having to hand over a ransom.
Not only would a well-prepared organization find themselves in this much better position after a ransomware attack, but they would also be less likely to be targeted a second time as hackers would prefer to go after an organization that is ill prepared and easy to extort.
2. Train Users And Test Security Awareness Through Simulations
Human error is at the core of so many security incidents—around 95%, according to the Global Risk Report released by the World Economic Forum. So, failing to provide comprehensive security awareness training to employees to mitigate this risk would be a mistake.
It is in every organizations best interest to ensure every employee can adequately protect themselves and positively contribute to the business’ overall security—which they can only do if they know what to look out for and how best to respond.
You can support employees by providing them with good security awareness training and by simulating different security incidents so they are well prepared for the types of cyberattacks they are likely to face. This strengthens your cybersecurity and cyber resiliency, and in the long run will make employees feel more confident and secure.
3. Ensure Your Board Understand The Importance of Security And Resilience
Achieving strong cybersecurity and resilience is only possible if everyone is on the same page about where the organization is in terms of how they will defend against attacks and how they plan to recover operations should an attack prove successful. This includes everyone from new employees to the board of directors.
Members of the board often aren’t familiar with the technical metrics and jargon used by CISCOs and may not be particularly in the know about current cyber threats. To make sure they understand the risks and the benefits of taking action towards cyber resiliency and security and it is useful to provide them with easily digestible metrics, and to reframe the conversation into one about business risk, profitability and longevity.
As cyberthreats continue to be one of the biggest threats to the business world, companies are advised to have both preventative measures and recovery strategies in place to improve their security posture and effectively protect their critical infrastructure and critical assets. We should do all we can to prevent ourselves from falling victim to these hackers, while understanding that no defense can ever be 100% perfect and preparing for the inevitable