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What is a Chief Resilience Officer? (And What Do They Do?)

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Conor Quinlan

We can’t stress enough to our clients that it’s not a matter of if but when they’ll face a cyberattack. It’s not just large companies that face threats—small and medium companies face risks too. Smaller organizations often lack staff and security resources, leaving them more vulnerable, thinking an attack won’t happen to them.

Last year, it was estimated that 45% of companies don’t have a chief information security officer (CISO). What’s worse, no companies have a chief resilience officer. CISOs and chief resilience officers should work in lockstep to support companies as threats from hackers grow more sophisticated.

Too often, at Airiam, we’re brought in to repair companies after a breach. We put Humpty Dumpty back together, piece by piece, after the fall. Companies that have built-in resilience will be able to recover more quickly if attacked. They can minimize the damage and have all the pieces ready to put back in place.

Imagine Humpty Dumpty falling onto a crash mat and bouncing back nearly unscathed. That’s cyber resilience. Companies that don’t take steps towards resilience may require long shutdowns, lost data, and months to recover to business as usual. Some never recover.

Cyber Resilience Isn’t the Same as Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity uses technology and best practices to build a fortress around an organization’s systems and endpoints. It’s the castle wall and the moat designed to stop bad actors from infiltrating your networks to steal data and do damage.

Cyber resilience goes deeper than the castle wall and the moat. It’s the drawbridge, the guards inside the wall, the artillery, and even allies from the neighboring kingdom—a holistic network designed to ensure companies can prevent, mitigate, recover and adapt to cyberattacks. Cybersecurity is one key component of a more extensive, comprehensive cyber resilience strategy, and when all the components are in place, this creates resilience.

What Is a Chief Resilience Officer? What Do They Do?

A CISO protects the company’s digital assets. They monitor, identify, report, and control incidents. They train and retain a team to help them. They stay informed of developing security threats and keep the leadership team informed on potential security problems that might arise. And they’re overwhelmed. As technology advances, so do vulnerabilities, and following best cybersecurity practices is no longer enough.

A chief resilience officer would put together the resilience strategy based on the organization’s size, customers, and data sensitivity. They prepare for the attack before it happens. They work with the CISO to prevent attackers from getting inside the network, but they take the strategy a step further to diminish the damage when an attacker does get in. If the right plan is in place, a business can be back up and running quickly after an attack—or never down at all. Disruptions are minimized, and customers remain trusting.

What Does a Chief Resilience Officer Do?

Chief resilience officers assume something will go wrong at some point. Data centers will crash, natural disasters will cause power outages, and hackers will breach sensitive systems. With these assumptions in mind, they prepare for the worst with backups plans A, B, C, D, and more. They know what to do when attackers hold valuable data hostage, and they have systems and processes in place to keep business running as usual while they put out the fires.

Resilience officers should sit on the C-suite because they need to have close interactions with the CEO, CISO, and other technology officers. Resilience officers should play a critical role in conversations regarding tech stacks, data privacy, and cybersecurity. This extends to decisions around digital infrastructure, on-premise vs. cloud or hybrid solutions, data center locations, and more.

Your chief resilience officer should even have close communications with your chief revenue officers and chief marketing officers. Chief revenue officers will want to know how resilience can impact the bottom line and keep services online, while chief marketing officers will want to know their valuable customer data is protected—and they’ll also need insights on how and when to communicate with customers when there is a data breach.

Typical Chief Resilience Officer Job Description

Your chief resilience officer’s job description will vary based on your resiliency strategy, but below, we’ve outlined a few traditional responsibilities and activities you’d expect.

  • Identify: Discover critical information and vulnerabilities and provide enhanced security for the essential assets.
  • Protect: Defend the systems with cybersecurity tools and best practices such as MFA, employee training, penetration testing, patching, and immutable backups.
  • Detect: Spot breaches early through robust monitoring.
  • Implement: Use a response plan to secure data and lock down points of entry to minimize damage and disruptions.
  • Respond: Ensure backups are available, recover data, and provide communications to resume normal operations.
  • Evolve: Evaluate how a breach happened and improve the resilience strategy to prevent the same issues from happening again.

Chief resilience officers’ roles will evolve as new cybersecurity and digital threats continue to emerge. However, thanks to evolving technology and new market solutions, chief resilience officers don’t have to do it all alone.

For example, while it might be a chief resilience officer’s responsibility to mitigate data loss, they might work with a cyber resilience solution like Airiam to establish 24/7/365 monitoring and immutable backups. Or they might purchase cyber insurance to ensure top-notch protection and trustworthy recovery paths.

Invest in Cyber Resiliency (Before It’s Too Late)

Whether a company chooses to have a chief resilience officer on their team, or to outsource this role, as cyberthreats grow, resiliency must keep pace. Airiam can protect your business with a robust, proactive approach. We investigate your vulnerabilities, patch security holes, and build firewalls to shield sensitive data. Our cybersecurity protection tools monitor your systems to identify threats and respond immediately to mitigate attacks before they become threats.

We help make your infrastructure ransomware resilient with a comprehensive disaster recovery plan, continuity solutions, and air-gapped backups. Avoid ransom payments, service disruptions, or data loss. Build cyber resilience.

Send us a message to find out how we can help with your organization’s cyber resilience, IT, compliance, and digital transformation needs.

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