As technologies evolve and become increasingly complex, so do the challenges they present. One of the most significant challenges organizations face today relates to keeping their applications, systems, and data safe and as far away from malicious cyber activity as possible.

Cyber-attacks are a very real threat to businesses, and, unfortunately, cybercriminals keep finding new and more sophisticated ways to infiltrate business networks and intentionally cause harm. These infiltrations can affect pretty much any area of a business utilizing data, systems, and applications. The types of damage that can arise are also varied, falling into at least three broad categories: Reputational, Financial, and Legal.

Given this new state of affairs, organizations must have a plan in place to protect their assets and deal with the unavoidable threats that are a real danger for everyone. This is where cybersecurity and resilience come in. They enable the protection of data, systems, applications, and the IT environment as well as equip companies to quickly recover from cyber incidents and reduce their impact.

Being prepared to deal with cyber threats and attacks is key to a business continuity plan, which means becoming cyber resilient must be a business priority. The challenge that comes with that idea is that not everyone is aware of what cyber resilience is or how important it is to make it a primary concern. This means the first step in the process of giving cyber resilience its proper place in business priorities is to help stakeholders and decision-makers understand its meaning and importance.

What is cyber resilience?

Cyber resilience is about accepting that even if you do all you can to prevent cyber-attacks, there will always be a possibility of them occurring regardless. So, being prepared to minimize the impact of any attacks is key.

We are all aware – at least to some extent – of the importance of being cyber-safe. Things like using complex and unique passwords, not clicking on suspicious links, and regularly running software updates are examples of advice we have all probably heard, even if not all of us follow them.

These are actions that aim to prevent attacks, which is what cybersecurity is all about. Cyber resilience, on the other hand, relates to being ready to deal with an attack if (or when) those cybersecurity measures are not enough to keep attackers out.

Being cyber resilient is closely related to business continuity: it is what allows your business to continue to operate and deliver its outcomes while facing malicious cyber events and other adverse conditions. It also enables your business to recover from incidents more quickly and become stronger to deal with similar situations in the future. 

Why is cyber resilience important?

The meaning of the concept “cyber resilience” gives away why it is important: if your business is cyber resilient, it will continue to operate despite experiencing a cyber-attack. Being able to keep your business running means taking steps to minimize the damage that may come from cyber incidents and, consequently, recover from such events more quickly and easily.

We can classify possible damages into three main types: Financial, Reputational, and Legal. These are not mutually exclusive and usually go hand in hand.

Let’s illustrate the idea with an example. Imagine your business is targeted by a cybercriminal who manages to successfully access all the personal data you have stored about your employees. Following this breach, your employees’ details are used to register fraudulent companies, and several press reports come out exposing the incident. This damages your reputation, and you lose the trust of your employees and that of your clients, too, who read the news stories and fear their own personal data is not safe with you. Many of your clients decide to stop using your services, which increases the financial loss you had already incurred from having to recover all that data and improve the security of your systems. To make matters worse, several employees file lawsuits against you, meaning your financial damage is even worse, and you now have legal penalties to deal with as well.

Having a solid cyber resilience strategy in place is what can help you bounce back after incidents like this by responding quickly and effectively, mitigating any disruption, and getting back on track as soon as possible. This way, you can minimize your financial loss, protect your reputation, and avoid legal problems.

Bridging the gap between cyber and business leaders

A new report called “Global Cybersecurity Outlook” was published for the first time in January 2022 by The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Accenture, showing the results of a survey of 120 global leaders from 20 different countries. One of the main findings the report revealed is that cyber leaders and business leaders do not seem to be entirely aligned in their perception of cyber resilience and its place in business priorities.

According to the report, 59% of respondents consider cyber security and cyber resilience to be synonymous, and over 90% of those respondents indicated that they think they are resilient. The problem with these two numbers is that it is very difficult to assess whether the organizations can even be resilient if their leaders are unaware of the difference between cyber resilience and security.

The report also revealed that although 92% of the surveyed business leaders stated that cyber resilience is part of enterprise risk management strategies, only 55% of cyber leaders agreed with that same statement.

Cyber leaders also reported that one of their major challenges is gaining support from decision-makers, which includes things like aligning objectives related to cyber resilience with business ones and having enough of a budget to address cyber security and resilience needs.

Anyone would find it difficult to support something that they do not fully understand, which may seem to be at the root of the disconnect between business leaders and security-focused executives. It is essential that all stakeholders understand what cyber resilience is and how important it is to treat it as a business priority.

Possible ways of addressing this gap between cyber and business leaders include improving communication and knowledge sharing, providing cyber resilience awareness training, and implementing a cyber resilience strategy.

The need for a cyber resilience strategy

Implementing a cyber resilience strategy is an important step in aligning cyber and business priorities. That is because it improves understanding and communication of cyber needs through steps like establishing a governance team, identifying and managing stakeholders, and creating a cyber resilience policy.

To build a successful cyber resilience strategy, it is very important to align its goals, measures, and plans with the organization’s business strategy and desired outcomes. After all, the main purpose of cyber resilience is to help the organization withstand cyber threats, attacks, and incidents while continuing to operate as normally as possible.

Without a clear understanding of what the business strategy is, it is impossible to create an effective plan for cyber resilience. At the same time, if there is no support or understanding on the business side about what cyber resilience actually is, how much it matters, and where to place it alongside other business priorities, it is very difficult to become cyber resilient. This is precisely what a cyber resilience strategy can do: connect and align business and cyber priorities so that an appropriate plan can be created, implemented, maintained, and continually improved.

RESILIA: A cyber resilience strategy framework

RESILIA Cyber Resilience is a framework of best practices created by AXELOS to help organizations build and implement cyber resilience strategies that are effective and can fully align with their business needs and goals.

With RESILIA, you’ll learn how to incorporate cyber resilience into existing systems and processes and operate cyber resilient controls in your organization. The framework also covers the role that continual improvement plays in cyber resilience and how to achieve it.

Interested in finding out more about RESILIA and cyber resilience? Visit the Good e-Learning website or contact a member of our team today!