Build cyber resilience into your risk management plan with help from the team at Reciprocity.

As the threats to information security continue to evolve, more businesses are investing more money in cybersecurity. But, given enough time and effort, anything can be breached — even with a comprehensive cybersecurity program.

That’s why many organizations are shifting focus and resources beyond cybersecurity programs and toward a more comprehensive data and security posture, called cyber resilience.

Cyber resilience is defined by the Computer Security Resource Center as “the ability to anticipate, withstand, recover from and adapt to adverse conditions, stresses, attacks or compromises on systems that use or are enabled by cyber resources.”

Cyber resilience takes into account where your organization’s operations rely on technology, where critical data is stored, and how those areas might be affected by a disruption. Resilience means working to minimize the impact of disruptions to your organization’s critical infrastructure, critical assets and business operations.

Building cyber resilience into your management plan will not only equip your organization with the tools to better defend itself against cyberattacks, but it can also help you mitigate risks and reduce the severity of the next cyberattack.

A cyber-resilient organization is more likely to thrive in the face of adversity, from once-in-a-lifetime events like the COVID-19 pandemic to more common occurrences like cybercrime.

Other types of events you should consider when creating a cyber resilience plan include natural disasters, ransomware attacks, acts of terrorism (physical or cyber), and abrupt shifts in the economy.

Planning for these types of events, as well as any other events that might affect your organization’s ability to do business, is an important part of business continuity, which is advance planning and preparation to ensure that your organization can operate its critical functions during emergency events.

As part of your organization’s overall risk management process, you should have a business continuity plan (BCP) that includes cyber resilience. This will ensure that you’re better prepared to tackle cybersecurity incidents, and it will allow you to effectively and efficiently respond to and recover from such cyber events.

Even if your organization already invests in a comprehensive cybersecurity program, considering cyber resilience will not only strengthen your existing efforts, but also help you to better plan for future events.

Your cybersecurity program probably includes measures such as firewalls, VPNs, anti-malware software, and hygiene including software patching and firmware, as well as cybersecurity training for employees.

These measures aim to strengthen your organization’s defenses to prevent cybercriminals and malicious actors from compromising your network and IT infrastructure via cyberattack — but they don’t guarantee that you’re completely safe from an attack.

On the other hand, cyber resilience includes deploying policies, solutions, and clearly defining the steps that need to be taken when cybersecurity measures inevitably fail.

For instance, the protocols to be followed in the event of a cyberattack that results in a data breach would be part of your cyber resilience plan.

In a perfect world, your cyber resilience plan would consider actions and outcomes before, during, and after an event such as a cyberattack. However, there are some challenges that you will need to consider when building cyber resilience as part of your overall risk management program.

Challenges to Cyber Resilience

Creating a cyber resilience plan for your organization can be difficult. The biggest challenge lies in anticipating cyber threats before they occur.

Cyber resiliency involves taking into consideration all your data-handling components — hardware, software, people, and processes — and shifting the question of cybersecurity from “how do I protect?” to “what if?”

Data protection is a critical element of cybersecurity, but it’s also an important component of cyber resilience. Organizational leaders often don’t realize the central role that data management and storage plays in a cyber resilience strategy.

Protecting your organization means protecting your data — that’s why data security ranks at the top of most organizations’ overall security strategy.

At the same time, the cost of making a mistake and losing critical data is far greater than the cost of storing data, which is why businesses rarely throw away data. Your organization’s data volume is always growing — on-premises, in the cloud, and in backup and archive systems.

But you can’t protect your data if you don’t know that the data exists; where your data is stored; and what tools, applications, and people are accessing and using it.

Preparing an incident response for a data breach when you don’t have all the details about your data is nearly impossible. When creating a cyber resilience plan for your organization, make sure you have all the information you need about your data so that you can plan for every possible incident that might occur.

Another challenge facing cyber resilience lies in the lack of coordination between key parties. Mis-sized or mismanaged teams that lack the skills to make critical decisions can make it difficult to execute a cyber resilience plan.

Your information technology (IT) staff should receive regular training and testing to ensure that your cyber resilience plan is being followed, and that it works. Equip your risk management team to create a cyber resilience plan that’s best for your business by giving it access to the information it needs.

Finally, threats to cybersecurity are constantly evolving. Your cyber resilience plan should be updated often to meet the ever-changing threats to cybersecurity, which means you need to pay attention to emerging threats as they become apparent.

However, there is no way for your organization to anticipate every possible threat to your cybersecurity.

Even if your cyber resilience plan accounts for all the ways in which your data might be breached, it usually takes some time to realize that a breach has occurred. According to Ponemon Institute research, in 2019 it took an average of 206 days to identify a breach and another 73 days to contain the breach, for a total of 279 days.

To help you tackle these challenges, here are steps you can take to achieve cyber resilience by adopting a management plan that accounts for unexpected risks.

How Do You Achieve Cyber Resilience?

To improve the overall security and resiliency of your organization, you need to implement a comprehensive cyber resilience framework.

But first, you need to make sure that your organization has a sound risk management program in place.

For more on creating a risk management plan, check out this step-by-step guide.

As part of your overall risk management program, a cybersecurity risk assessment will tell you where risk lies in your operations. It will help you prevent the three major categories of cybersecurity risk: malware, ransomware, and phishing.
Typically, you would create a business continuity plan after you’ve conducted a risk assessment so that it can address any risks you’ve identified during the assessment.

Cyber risk is any risk associated with financial loss, disruption or damage to the reputation of an organization from failure, unauthorized or erroneous use of its information systems.

Your cybersecurity program should implement the above measures to prevent cyber risks from becoming threats or attacks. Your cyber resilience plan should outline what to do if a cyberattack is successful.

A cyber resilience framework should include the following six steps to prepare your organization for events that could result in a data breach:

  1. Identify

    Identify critical business functions and assets, then assess all the cybersecurity risks that could disrupt them.

    Usually, this step involves a risk assessment, which is critical to understanding and managing the risks to your organization’s network, IT infrastructure and information systems.

  2. Protect

    Deploy the necessary tools and technology, and implement security measures to protect your systems, applications, and data, including training and awareness, informing staff of information security policies, implementing identity management and access controls, and maintaining your IT infrastructure regularly.

  3. Detect

    Scan for vulnerabilities and suspicious activities and analyze their potential impact on your business. Conduct continuous monitoring to identify anomalies and cybersecurity risks.

    Ultimately, you want to protect your sensitive information and systems from cyberattacks, system failures, and unauthorized access.

  4. Respond

    Once you’ve detected any suspicious activities and determined the cyber risk they pose to your organization, implement strategies and actions to mitigate the negative effects of cybersecurity events.

    This step should include a plan of action for both planned and unplanned events. Again, you can’t anticipate every threat to your cybersecurity, but you can have a plan in place that addresses the unknown and provides at least a basic response.

  5. Recover

    Formulate an action plan to quickly return to normal after an incident occurs. This step will help you to restore systems, applications or information impacted by a security breach or system failure. It’s vital for ensuring that your critical business functions or capabilities continue operating with little or no disruption.

  6. Adapt

    Your cyber resilience program will need continuous improvements and modifications to combat ever-evolving cybercrimes. You might consider using advanced solutions to provide reports on cyberattacks that will give you insight into your overall security posture and prepare for future events.

Creating a cyber resilience plan for your organization might seem overwhelming at first, but it’s a crucial component of a comprehensive risk management program that will ensure business continuity.

Here are some other things you can do to strengthen your cyber resilience plan:

  • Use automation. Adopting artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to automate critical functions can help your organization identify vulnerabilities more quickly, assess risks more accurately, and respond to incidents in a timely manner. Automating these functions will help you reduce the frequency of errors as well as improving efficiency and accuracy, enabling faster decision-making.
  • Set strict security protocols. To minimize the risks of data theft and unauthorized access, enforce rigorous security measures such as multi-factor identification, identity and access management, and encrypt your valuable digital assets.
  • Make it part of your corporate culture. Your organization’s security is not solely up to your IT team — your entire organization is responsible. In addition to regularly conducted security awareness and training programs, you should also encourage your employees to adhere to your organization’s security policies and procedures on a regular basis.
  • Back up your data. Securely backing up your data will allow you to quickly restore and recover from disruptions. Copying your valuable data ensures business continuity and will protect your organization against data loss or corruption due to cyberattacks or IT failure.

One of the easiest ways to create or enhance your cyber resilience program is to use governance, risk management, and compliance (GRC) software to help your organization stay on top of its risk management program.

Make ZenGRC Part of Your Cyber Resilience Plan

An organization that plans for risks will be able to more quickly respond to threats in real-time.

ZenGRC from Reciprocity is a GRC platform that can help your organization to implement, manage, and monitor your risk management framework as well as your cyber resilience plan.

Using ZenGRC, you can prioritize tasks after a cyberattack so that everyone on your security team knows exactly what to do for remediation, and when to do it. Its user-friendly dashboard also makes it easy to review “to do” and “completed tasks” lists, so you can stay on top of your cyber resilience plan.

With ZenGRC, a team of GRC experts are always at your service, from risk experts to help you build the right risk program for your business, to risk officers who help hundreds of companies set strategy to build or mature risk programs.

Workflow tagging also lets you easily assign tasks for the activities involved in cyber resilience, risk assessment, risk analysis, and risk mitigation. ZenGRC’s connector enables two-way communication with popular workflow applications, including JIRA and ServiceNow.

ZenGRC’s single source of truth audit-trail document repository lets you quickly access the evidence you need of data confidentiality, integrity, and availability as required by law when audit time rolls around.

ZenGRC is also fully equipped to help you streamline management for the entire lifecycle of all your relevant cybersecurity risk management frameworks including PCI, ISO, HIPAA, and more.

Find out if ZenGRC is right for your organization and schedule a demo today to get started on the path to worry-free risk management — the Zen way.