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February 14, 2020 Article 5 min read
Perpetrators of cyber-attacks threaten daily to infiltrate your systems with malicious intent. A cyber resilience strategy can help you withstand attacks and minimize business disruption to protect your data—and your profits.
Professionals looking at a monitorIf you’re like many of our clients, the term “cybercriminal” conjures up an image of a lone-wolf hacker hiding out in their parent's basement. Threatening, but not devastating. But that’s not reality. More and more, we’re dealing with cyber terrorists and organized criminals with the most sophisticated tools and scams at their disposal. And the number and scope of cyber-attacks on organizations is astounding. Here are just a few notable examples from 2019:
  • The U.S. announces plans to disrupt a network of North Korean bots that were used to target media, aerospace, finance, and infrastructure sectors.
  • Bayer claims to have prevented an attack from international hackers trying to steal intellectual property.
  • A group of hackers was found by Microsoft to have targeted thousands of organizations in the industrial control system industry, including suppliers and manufacturers.

While traditional tactics of phishing and malware are still the most common cyberattack methods, the next wave of cyber criminals can quickly pivot to other, more technical, methods to exploit vulnerabilities and disarm your defenses. The result can be total business disruption. So, what's your best defense? An evolving cyber resilience strategy that allows you to mitigate the threats of a cyberattack and enhance your ability to respond and recover from an attack.

Cyber resilience allows you to adapt to a changing cyber-threat environment

Cyber resilience goes beyond preventing or responding to a breach — it’s your ability to operate during, adapt to, and recover from a cyber-attack (the word “resilience” is the key here). If your organization has a high level of cyber resilience, a cyber-attack is much less likely to hamper your business operations — you’ll be able to protect your data, reduce the impact of business disruption, and prevent devastating revenue loss.

Cyber resilience goes beyond preventing or responding to an attack — it’s your ability to operate during, adapt to, and recover from an attack.

We’ve entered a new digital era—business leaders and government agencies need to expand their idea of what cybersecurity is and go beyond defense and reaction to include anticipation and business continuity. Take these four steps toward achieving cyber resilience to stay ahead of threats, create a secure cyber environment, and improve your ability to get through an attack unscathed.

Step 1: Identify your most critical information and assets.

The evolution of the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud storage, and the like means that organizations must be smarter and more diligent about securing information, considering how critical data assets are shared and consumed. A critical data asset is data that, if lost, stolen, or threatened, would cause significant damage to your revenue, reputation, and ability to run day-to-day operations.

If you’re not keeping up with the latest methods to prevent cybersecurity breaches, prepare to be attacked.

There’s a misconception that all data needs to be protected equally, but consider this: What data would be most valuable to a cybercriminal? You can identify critical assets using cyber risk assessments and IT audits. Once your critical data assets are identified and their value is measured, you can partner with an external expert to create a process that appropriately protects against fraud and breaches.

Examples of critical data assets include:

  • Intellectual property
  • Research data
  • Market strategy
  • Corporate financial data
  • Propriety software
  • Internal manufacturing processes
  • Client, staff, or patient records & information

Step 2: Align your cyber response and preparedness strategy to the current threat environment.

If you’re not keeping up with the latest methods to prevent cybersecurity breaches, prepare to be attacked. Many organizations rely on seriously out-of-date security measures, like policies, procedures, and passwords that address decades-old threats. While it can seem like a difficult task to keep track of all possible network security threats, you’ll need to at least update your strategy to address the most common cyberthreats du jour—ransomware, malware, unauthorized access to your email system, weak users, and loss of data or hardware.

Key actions to take to mitigate risk and respond to current cybersecurity threats:

  • Identify current threats and act on intelligence.
  • Prioritize cyber risks—you can’t defend against all possible risks, order risks in terms of probability and impact.
  • Focus less on specific technologies, since these are continually evolving, and more on security goals as they relate to your overall strategic plan and mission.
  • Make sure your people, processes, and technologies are all protected — cybersecurity is an organization wide responsibility, and not just through an IT department’s efforts and processes.

Step 3: Develop and simulate cyber incident response strategies.

Next, your organization should have a tested process in place to respond to a cybersecurity incident. Without a formal plan, your customers, employees, IT systems, and even brand can be negatively impacted. Identify a cybersecurity incident response team that will activate when security breaches occur to mitigate their impact on your organization. Your incident response team should include representatives from all major departments, and internal or external legal counsel.

Here’s how to create and maintain an incident response plan:

  • Establish a process to investigate and analyze a breach that includes a plan to continue day-to-day operations despite the chaos.
  • Ensure your cyber-insurance policy has the appropriate coverage and protects you from financial damages during a breach.
  • Manage internal communications and updates during or immediately after incidents.
  • Communicate with staff, stakeholders, and the media about breaches as needed.
  • Recommend technology, policy, governance, and training updates to prevent future attacks.

Step 4: Focus on a culture of awareness.

Finally, increase awareness and vigilance among your staff. An essential factor in data security is human behavior. Uninformed users can jeopardize an entire system. Therefore, cyber-threat awareness training is imperative to help users identify threats to information security and take proper action in response. All users need to stay up to date on the latest types of attacks.

Don’t sit and wait for a cyber incident, act on preventing it!

Security awareness training helps mitigate these top security breaches:

  • Targeted ransomware
  • Phishing attacks, beyond just email
  • Mobile device attacks
  • Cloud & wireless attacks

As cyberattacks grow more sophisticated, complex, and financially devastating, don’t sit and wait for a cyber incident, act on preventing it! Cyber resilience allows you to embrace disruption safely and operate while under persistent threats and sophisticated attacks. You can’t anticipate every possible cyber risk, but we can help protect your organization with forward-planning and improved cyber safeguards. Contact Raj Patel to learn more and start protecting your most valuable information today.

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