Developing a Strategic Plan for Cyber Resilience

Cyber resilience is the ability to adapt to any adverse condition to ensure business continuity, which includes the ability to withstand a cyberattack or recover from another type of unforeseen circumstance, such as a data center outage.

In this cyber resilience blog series, we’ve covered the tools and technologies for detecting, investigating, and responding to an incident. In this final post, we want to bring it all together into a holistic strategy for cyber resilience.

A Framework for Minimizing Disruption

A cyber resilience strategy reduces the chances of an adverse condition happening, and if something does occur — which, for cyberattacks, is a statistical certainty these days — a strategy will put your organization on a better footing to respond and restore operations quickly, minimizing disruption.

If you’ve done your homework on how to detect and investigate incidents, you’re in good shape to develop a strategic plan for resilience, because a strategy won’t get you very far if you don’t have the people, processes, and tools lined up to respond to an event.

While the tools and technologies give you the capability to detect and investigate, a validated cyber resilience strategy enables organizations to coordinate efforts and adapt to new situations, because even though incidents follow familiar patterns, the nature and tactics of threats are continuously evolving.

A Strategic Plan Helps You Adapt

Because every incident is unique, there’s no way to have perfect playbooks that will work for every situation. By outlining the tactics, techniques, and procedures you’ll follow in the event of an incident, and by outlining the responsibilities of the people who will be involved, you’ll have a framework to respond to any event.

For example, first responders train for incidents but face unique challenges in the field. A complex incident may involve multiple agencies, such as fire departments, police, and ambulance services. These groups train together to sort out roles and responsibilities during an event and have invested in the tools and processes that will support their response. If something new happens, like a large brushfire that’s threatening people and property, they may not have the exact steps at their fingertips, but they have a tested strategy to fall back on. An organization must approach cyber resiliency in a similar manner.

A Strategic Plan Requires Collaboration

Whenever a public incident occurs, pay attention. It can be extremely apparent which organizations have the appropriate tools in place along with a comprehensive, practiced response strategy versus those that are scrambling to adapt.

Because cyber resilience requires a holistic approach on how to anticipate, withstand, recover, and adapt to threats, it requires collaboration across the organization. It’s not just an IT initiative where you buy redundant storage, invest in endpoint detection and response, or have multiple ISPs. The whole organization needs to understand the business need behind these investments and the impact on the organization if a group of employees isn’t back to work quickly.

What technology does your warehouse team need to do its job in the event of an incident? Or your engineering group? Or your field crews? Or your executives? And what are the business priorities for recovery and restoration?

These conversations need to happen to have a strategic plan to support response efforts. The business requirements will shape the strategy and the strategy will point you in the right direction for making the right investments in the right resources.

Testing and Evaluating a Strategic Plan for Cyber Resilience

Once you have a strategic plan in place for cyber resilience, it needs to be tested and evaluated over time. Ongoing evaluations of your business impact analysis and regular tabletop sessions for incidents can help clarify roles and responsibilities during an event and will also help define priorities in restoring services.

You can also do regular disaster recovery tests to ensure that your backup and recovery solutions work as expected when needed. Testing will help identify gaps in processes or tools and get newer employees up to speed on what response actions to expect within your organization.

Collaborative by nature, tests will involve input from throughout the organization — the different teams and business units that could be impacted by an incident. When an incident occurs, everyone has a role to play in restoring normal operations. So, a cyber resilience strategy goes beyond the IT department to include every aspect of the business that may be affected by an incident.

While many organizations test their plans fairly regularly, the evolving nature of risk and the inevitability of a cyber attack means tests should be conducted more frequently and on a variety of threats.

Cyber resilience is not an IT problem, and they can’t do it alone. A holistic resilience strategy must be supported and invested in throughout the whole organization.

How Evolving Solutions Can Help

Developing a cyber resilience strategy can be a big project, so it’s not uncommon for organizations to reach out for help. Evolving Solutions has a strategic view of technology and how it supports business operations. We can walk you through each step of the strategy development process, including defining the technology requirements for specific business functions, prioritizing recovery steps, and matching the right people, tools, and processes to a recovery plan.

We can help ensure that your technical investments in resilience will deliver value in the event of an incident and help you identify gaps in tools, processes, and responsibilities. We can also help you develop the tabletop tests and physical tests needed to validate a strategy and help you with the periodic assessments.

By taking a strategic view of your environment, we can help you create a strategic cyber resilience plan that will minimize disruption if the worst happens.

Michael Downs

Chief Technology Officer

Michael is the Chief Technology Officer at Evolving Solutions and joined the company in 2014. Connect with Michael on LinkedIn here.

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