From Response to Recovery: Developing a Cyber Resilience Framework

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If you’re responsible for securing your company’s data, you’re likely well-acquainted with the basics of backups. You may be following the 3-2-1 rule and may even be using cloud storage for off-site backup of essential data.

But there’s a new model of iterative, process-improvement driven outcomes to improve business continuity, and it’s called cyber resilience. What is cyber resilience and why does it matter to your business? That’s what we’ll talk about today.

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Learn more about how to strengthen your organization’s cyber resilience by protecting systems, responding to incidents, and recovering with minimal disruption at our upcoming webinar “Build Your Company’s Cyber Resilience: Protect, Respond, and Recover from Security Incidents” on Friday, June 9 at 10 a.m. PT/noon CT.

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The Case for Cyber Resilience

The advance of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, geopolitical tensions, and the ever-present threat of ransomware have all fundamentally changed the approach businesses must take to data security. In fact, the White House has prioritized cybersecurity by announcing a new cybersecurity strategy because of the increased risks of cyberattacks and the threat to critical infrastructure. And, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023, business continuity (67%) and reputational damage (65%) concern organization leaders more than any other cyber risk.

Cyber resilience assumes that it’s not if a security incident will occur, but when

Being cyber resilient means that a business is able to not only identify threats and protect against them, but also withstand attacks as they’re happening, respond effectively, and bounce back better—so that the business is better fortified against future incidents. 

What Is Cyber Resilience?

Cyber resilience is ultimately a holistic and continuous view of data protection; it implies that businesses can build more robust security practices, embed those throughout the organization, and put processes into place to learn from security threats and incidents in order to continuously shore up defenses. In the cyber resilience model, improving data security is no longer a finite series of checkbox items; it is not something that is ever “done.”

Unlike common backup strategies like 3-2-1 or grandfather-father-son that are well defined and understood, there is no singular model for cyber resilience. The National Institute of Standards and Technology defines cyber resiliency as the ability to anticipate, withstand, recover from, and adapt to incidents that compromise systems. You’ll often see the cyber resilience model depicted in a circular fashion because it is a cycle of continuous improvement. While cyber resilience frameworks may vary slightly from one another, they all typically focus on similar stages, including:

  • Identify: Stay informed about emerging security threats, especially those that your systems are most vulnerable to. Share information throughout the organization when employees need to install critical updates and patches. 
  • Protect: Ensure systems are adequately protected with cybersecurity best practices like multi-factor authentication (MFA), encryption at rest and in transit, and by applying the principle of least privilege. For more information on how to shore up your data protection, including data protected in cloud storage, check out our comprehensive checklist on cyber insurance best practices. Even if you’re not interested in cyber insurance, this checklist still provides a thorough resource for improving your cyber resilience.
  • Detect: Proactively monitor your network and system to ensure you can detect any threats as soon as possible.
  • Respond and Recover: Respond to incidents in the most effective way and ensure you can sustain critical business operations even while an incident is occurring. Plan your recovery in advance so your executive and IT teams are prepared to execute on it when the time comes.
  • Adapt: This is the key part. Run postmortems to understand what happened, what worked and what didn’t, and how it can be prevented in the future. This is how you truly build resilience.

Why Is Cyber Resilience Important?

Traditionally, IT leaders have excelled at thinking through backup strategy, and more and more IT administrators understand the value of next level techniques like using Object Lock to protect copies of data from ransomware. But, it’s less common to give attention to creating a disaster recovery (DR) plan, or thinking through how to ensure business continuity during and after an incident. 

In other words, we’ve been focusing too much on the time before an incident occurs and not enough on time on what to do during and after an incident. Consider the zero trust principle, which assumes that a breach is happening and it’s happening right now: taking such a viewpoint may seem negative, but it’s actually a proactive, not reactive, way to increase your business’ cyber resilience. When you assume you’re under attack, then your responsibility is to prove you’re not, which means actively monitoring your systems—and if you happen to discover that you are under attack, then your cybersecurity readiness measures kick in. 

How Is Cyber Resilience Different From Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is a set of practices on what to do before an incident occurs. Cyber resilience asks businesses to think more thoroughly about recovery processes and what comes after. Hence, cybersecurity is a component of cyber resilience, but cyber resilience is a much bigger framework through which to think about your business.

How Can I Improve My Business’ Cyber Resilience?

Besides establishing a sound backup strategy and following cybersecurity best practices, the biggest improvement that data security leaders can make is likely in helping the organization to shift its culture around cyber resilience.

  • Reframe cyber resilience. It is not solely a function of IT. Ensuring business continuity in the face of cyber threats can and should involve operations, legal, compliance, finance teams, and more.
  • Secure executive support now. Don’t wait until an incident occurs. Consider meeting on a regular basis with stakeholders to inform them about potential threats. Present if/then scenarios in terms that executives can understand: impact of risks, potential trade-offs, how incidents might affect customers or external partners, expected costs for mitigation and recovery, and timelines.
  • Practice your disaster recovery scenarios. Your business continuity plans should be run as fire drills. Ensure you have all stakeholders’ emergency/after hours contact information. Run tabletop exercises with any teams that need to be involved and conduct hypothetical retrospectives to determine how you can respond more efficiently if a given incident should occur.

It may seem overwhelming to try and adopt a cyber resiliency framework for your business, but you can start to move your organization in this direction by helping your internal stakeholders first shift their thinking. Acknowledging that a cyber incident will occur is a powerful way to realign priorities and support for data security leaders, and you’ll find that the momentum behind the effort will naturally help advance your security agenda.

Cyber Resilience Resources

Interested in learning more about how to improve business cyber resilience? Check out the free Backblaze resources below.

Looking for Support to Help Achieve Your Cyber Resilience Goals?

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About Kari Rivas

Kari Rivas is the product marketing manager for server backup at Backblaze, where she works closely with lead integration partners like MSP360 and others to ensure that managed service providers, IT consultants, and small and medium-sized businesses never lose their precious data. She received her MBA in 2010 and has spent 13 years in marketing, most notably in the education and human capital management industries before landing at Backblaze. When she's not busy talking about the benefits of Backblaze's astonishingly easy cloud storage, she can be found practicing yoga, eating cupcakes, and spending time with her family. Connect with her on LinkedIn.