Defining the resilience of cybersecurity

Issue 6 2022 Information Security, Security Services & Risk Management, Risk Management & Resilience

Henk Olivier.

For a long time, cybersecurity was something that only kept the security professionals awake at night. They would wave red flags, alert decision-makers and generally annoy people with their rules, regulations and ongoing training. Now, the landscape has changed.

Now, the chief security officer (CISO) and security professionals are sitting at the table and playing a significant role in decision-making and cybersecurity investment. Why? Because cybercrime has become so prevalent and sophisticated that it’s hitting every bottom line and business, and regulations and legislation are fining companies that aren’t paying attention.

The awareness that every company is at risk and that no business is absolutely protected has seen a shift in focus from cybersecurity towards cyber resilience. The former is the training, the technology, the firewalls and the services put in place to protect the organisation and its people from the cyber onslaught. The latter is the ability to not just protect against cybercrime, but to anticipate attacks, adapt to attacks, resolve compromises and respond to uncertainty with agility. It is the organisation’s ability to bend and flex against the cybercrime current and find its feet in the aftermath of an event.

Steps to resilience

“There are a few things that need to be in place to ensure that a company is fully cyber resilient,” says Henk Olivier, managing director at Ozone Information Technology Distribution. “First, you need to undertake a basic risk management analysis that allows you to unpack how your organisation and its employees will react, should an event take place. This ensures that if X happens, then everyone knows that they need to do Y to ensure that the business is capable of undertaking normal operations while the incident is resolved.”

Having a clear ‘if this, then that’ plan in place ensures that high-risk and high-priority operations are shut down or protected instantly, and that any attack focused on these systems is resolved as a matter of urgency. This process also ensures that the business knows exactly which systems are the ones that will effectively bring the company to a stop if they are attacked. Undertaking this analysis should also include unpacking the customer interaction levels to determine any vulnerabilities or risk factors, and the user and employee touchpoints that can put the company at risk.

Do the basics first

“There are also several different aspects of any cyber resilience programme that should always be in place,” says Olivier. “Basic security hygiene is a must. This includes keeping all operating systems and devices up to date with the latest patches, having firewalls in place to control internal and external traffic and provide visibility into network traffic, and putting strong passwords and policies in place.”

Training has to be ongoing. Employees need to constantly be reminded about ransomware, malware, phishing and viruses, and know how to detect them. These attack vectors have become so sophisticated that it’s increasingly hard for even the most alert user to identify the fakes and not make a stupid mistake. Add to this some other essential steps, like avoiding the use of company email addresses on public networks and ensuring that there is clear reporting and insight into the firewall and devices.

“Cyber resilience is also defined by the plans you have in place should the attack succeed, and it will succeed, at least once,” says Olivier. “Have a data recovery plan and process in place and always have backups – plural. You need more than one backup and you need to keep one set offline so that any ransomware doesn’t have time to populate a backup.”

Cyber resilience is no one single solution or platform, rather it is a network of cybersecurity technologies, methodologies, policies, frameworks and behaviours that work collaboratively and cohesively to create a security posture that’s agile, flexible and, most importantly, prepared.

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