Cyber Resilience: Delivering Intended Outcomes Despite Cyber Attacks

Publication date: Oct 17, 2022

Last Published: Oct 17, 2022

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The digital transformation of modern organizations is driving data-based insights, improving productivity and efficiency, enabling high-quality user experiences, and more. However, the introduction of digital technology into all areas of business has also made organizations more exposed to cyber attacks.

Unless adequately protected against malware, phishing, Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS), zero-day exploits, and other dangerous threats can prevent targeted organizations from delivering intended outcomes, causing them to lose their competitive edge.

To address the impact of cyber attacks on business outcomes, cybersecurity experts recommend organizations go beyond cybersecurity by making cyber resilience their end goal.

Let’s discuss what cyber resilience is and how you can achieve it.

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What Is Cyber Resilience?

Resilience is the capacity to withstand or recover quickly from difficulties. Those who demonstrate it may suffer difficulty or distress, but they don’t allow their challenging circumstances to prevent them from continuing on their mission.

In the context of the cyber space, resilience is defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as the ability to anticipate, withstand, recover from, and adapt to adverse conditions, stresses, attacks, or compromises on systems that use or are enabled by cyber resources.

Cyber resilience recognizes that most organizations have or will experience a cybersecurity incident regardless of how robust cybersecurity information technologies, processes, and measures they implement to strengthen their defenses.

The recognition of the inevitability of cybersecurity incidents expands the scope of the conversation from mere prevention to response and recovery, with the ultimate goal being the ability to continue delivering intended outcomes even when critical systems have been compromised by outsiders or insiders.

What Are the Benefits of Cyber Resilience?

Organizations that become cyber resilient unlock the following benefits:

  • Reduced financial losses: Global cybercrime costs are expected to reach $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, and small and medium-sized businesses are contributing more and more to this alarming statistic. Cybersecurity incidents cause such massive financial losses because they disrupt business processes, with the duration of the disruption being directly proportionate to the cost of the incident. By definition, cyber resilient organizations are able to quickly get back on their feet in the event of an attack, so the financial losses they experience are much lower compared with organizations that are not resilient.
  • Improved customer and vendor trust: Customers and vendors alike don’t want to partner with organizations that struggle to maintain the continuity of their business operations in case of even a minor cybersecurity incident. The same customers and vendors are increasingly concerned about the security of their data, which is why third-party data breaches are one of the hottest topics in the cybersecurity industry right now. By becoming cyber resilient, organizations improve their reputation as trustworthy, reliable partners.
  • Regulatory compliance: Organizations in many industries already have to comply with a complex web of data protection regulations that effectively make cyber resiliency a requirement. A prime example of this is the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), which is an initiative intended to enhance cyber protection standards across the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) to better protect sensitive unclassified information shared by contractors and subcontractors.

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How to Build Cyber Resilience?

For an organization to build cyber resilience, it must not only take the steps necessary to protect systems, networks, and data from cybersecurity incidents but also be able to continuously deliver intended outcomes despite them.

NIST Special Publication 800-160 Volume 2 Rev. 1 (pdf) describes the following objectives that an organization must achieve to become cyber resilient:

  • Prevent or avoid: Preclude the successful execution of an attack or the realization of adverse conditions.
  • Prepare: Maintain a set of realistic courses of action that address predicted or anticipated adversity.
  • Continue: Maximize the duration and viability of essential mission or business functions during adversity.
  • Constrain: Limit damage from adversity.
  • Reconstitute: Restore as much mission or business functionality as possible after adversity.
  • Understand: Maintain useful representations of mission and business dependencies and the status of resources with respect to possible adversity.
  • Transform: Modify mission or business functions and supporting processes to handle adversity and address environmental changes more effectively.
  • Re-architect: Modify architectures to handle adversity and address environmental changes more effectively.

Conclusion on Cyber Resilience

The NIST states that organizations can and should tailor these objectives to reflect their missions and business functions. In practice, their achievement often requires a complete change of organizational culture and the recognition of the fact that cybersecurity issues are business issues.

If you’re ready to transform your organization to become cyber resilient, then get in touch with us at OSIbeyond. We can help you implement the right controls and policies so that you can continue delivering intended outcomes regardless of the threats you encounter.

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