Data breaches and cyberattacks have become worryingly commonplace in today’s digital world, and cybersecurity and cyber resilience are now crucial for every organization, small and large. These two strategies work together to protect data at different stages of a cyberattack. Ideally, organizations should rely on both to achieve maximum cyber protection.
Cybersecurity refers to the measures taken to protect computer systems and networks from unauthorized access, theft, and damage. Cyber resilience, on the other hand, refers to the ability of an organization to maintain its essential functions and recover quickly from a cyberattack or another disruptive event. Cyber resilience involves not only protecting against cyber threats, but also planning and preparing for the worst-case scenario.
The Crucial Need for Cyber Protection
Cyberattacks can have severe consequences for organizations, including damage to reputation, legal liabilities, and loss of customer trust. A cybersecurity breach that goes undetected can lead to huge financial losses and even cause a small business to file for bankruptcy.
In the case of banks, which rely on digital infrastructure now more than ever, a cybersecurity-related incident can potentially drain them of millions of dollars. The victims will be depositors who can lose all their money except that which is covered by FDIC, which insures deposits up to $250,000.
Cyberattacks are becoming more frequent, and the cost of cybercrime is rising, too. According to a report by Cybersecurity Ventures, the global cost of cybercrime is expected to reach $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. Furthermore, the report predicts that cybercrime will become more profitable than the global trade of all major illegal drugs combined.
Cyberattacks are increasingly developing into a form of covert warfare between nation-states. For example, according to the United States Energy Department, the number of direct attacks on U.S. power grids increased by 77% last year. Preventing and fighting against cyberattacks is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for all organizations, including governments.
One of the most common methods of bypassing cybersecurity systems to launch a cyberattack is through a process called phishing. Phishing is a cybercrime where perpetrators send emails or text messages that appear to come from a legitimate institution, such as a bank or large online retailer, to manipulate victims into clicking on a link contained in the email or text message.
The link then downloads harmful malware or leads the user to a webpage that can compromise the integrity of the entire network. Phishing attacks demonstrate how no organization is fully immune from cyberattacks, highlighting the importance of cyber resilience.
Protecting Against Cyberattacks
To protect against cyberattacks, organizations must implement cybersecurity measures at every attack stage. This includes protecting against initial attacks, detecting and responding to attacks, and recovering from attacks.
One way to protect against initial attacks is to choose hosting providers that use secure servers with up-to-date hardware. While most providers boast of secure data centers that are protected from physical threats, such as fire and floods, a review of the provider’s System and Organization Controls (SOC 2 Type 2) report will offer insight into the technical and administrative safeguards in use.
Another way to protect against initial attacks is to ensure that developers are using Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) pipelines to generate code with fewer vulnerabilities. CI/CD pipelines automate the process of building, testing, and deploying code, which can help catch vulnerabilities early on in the development process.
Detecting and responding to attacks is another crucial aspect of cybersecurity. This involves implementing monitoring and detection tools to identify suspicious activity on the network. For example, Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tools can be used to monitor logs and network traffic for signs of an attack.
Once an attack has been detected, it’s vital to respond quickly and effectively. This includes containing the attack, analyzing the impact of the attack, and restoring systems to normal operation. Incident response protocols should be in place to guarantee that the organization can respond immediately and in unison in the face of an attack.
How To Improve Cyber Resilience
Cybersecurity is essential for protecting against cyberattacks. However, cyber resilience is equally necessary for ensuring that an organization can recover quickly from an attack.
Cyber resilience involves planning and preparing for a variety of different cyberattack scenarios and having a clear plan in place to respond accordingly. Recent studies reveal that 82% of organizations agree that cybersecurity is a huge priority, but cyber resilience is often not as emphasized.
Here are a few ways to improve the cyber resilience of your business:
Conduct Regular Cybersecurity Assessments
One way to optimize cyber resilience is to encourage regular cybersecurity assessments to identify potential vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the organization’s cybersecurity posture. These reviews can help companies identify areas where they need to enhance their cybersecurity and resilience. More importantly, they can help identify ways to respond.
Another way to improve cyber resilience is to create incident response plans and conduct regular drills to test those plans. Incident response plans should be reviewed and updated periodically to ensure they are up-to-date and relevant. All necessary departments should be involved in these drills.
For example, a company may want to send employees fake phishing emails periodically to teach them how to report a possible phishing attempt when they see one. Employees who fall for clicking on a link in a phishing email can be helped with further cybersecurity training.
Develop Backup and Recovery Solutions
Backup and recovery solutions are critical for organizations to ensure business continuity and disaster recovery in the event of a cyberattack. Cyberattacks such as ransomware, phishing, and malware can cause significant damage to an organization’s IT infrastructure and data.
Backup is the process of creating a copy of an organization’s critical data, and storing it in a separate location. The two most common locations are on cloud-based servers or on local servers utilizing disk-based hardware. There are also various types of backups, such as full, incremental, and differential. The choice of the appropriate backup scheme will vary depending on the size of the organization, the size of the data, and the sensitivity of the data.
Recovery is the process of restoring the data and IT infrastructure to the pre-attack state. Recovery solutions depend on the type of attack and the backup strategy used. For example, if an organization experiences a ransomware attack, it may need to restore data from a backup taken before the attack occurred. In contrast, if an organization experiences a hardware failure, it may need to restore data from the most recent backup.
To ensure a successful recovery, organizations should test their backup and recovery solutions regularly. Regular testing ensures that backups work correctly and the recovery process is effective. Organizations should also keep their backup and recovery solutions up to date and ensure that backups are stored in isolation from each other.
Cyberattacks are becoming commonplace, so in today’s digital era, organizations must have robust cybersecurity measures in place. But there is only so much that can be done to protect from a cyberattack. Mitigating a cyberattack that is in process in a timely and effective manner is equally as crucial when it comes to protecting your organization, so cyber resilience must be included in your protective measures as well.
About the Author:
Isla Sibanda is an ethical hacker and cybersecurity specialist based out of Pretoria. For over twelve years, she’s worked as a cybersecurity analyst and penetration testing specialist for several reputable companies – including Standard Bank Group, CipherWave, and Axxess.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire