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Cyber Resilience Framework: How to Develop a Resilience Strategy

Jesse Sumrak

Your cyber resilience framework defines the techniques and processes your business uses to protect its sensitive data, services, and uptime. Frameworks will vary depending on your geographic operations, industry, and datasets, but many of the fundamentals and best practices apply universally.

Every business should be striving toward cyber resilience, but it’s not an overnight transformation—nor is it a one-and-done activity. Your cyber resilience plan outlines how you’ll protect, monitor, respond, recover, and evolve from threats like cyberattacks, data loss, outages, natural disasters, and even something like a global pandemic. And that plan must continue developing as new threats emerge and defensive technologies come into play.

Below, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about cyber resilience frameworks to develop your own resilience strategy and protect your business holistically. While we’ll provide a foundation and general best practices, it’s up to you, your chief resilience officer, and your cybersecurity partners to build a resilience plan tailored to your business.

What Is a Cyber Resilience Framework?

A cyber resilience framework is your end-to-end strategy for protecting your digital assets and data. It starts with identifying your most valuable information and detecting vulnerabilities, and then your business develops a plan for how to guard them.

Your cyber resilience strategy will involve elements of cybersecurity and recovery. Cybersecurity is all about preventing attackers from infiltrating your system or data leaks. Cyber resilience assumes some attacks will be successful and includes plans for how you’ll respond.

For example, what will your business do if a bad actor steals sensitive information and holds it for ransom? How will you respond if a natural disaster destroys a data center or server? Your cyber resilience framework defines what you’ll do in these situations and puts the technology, architecture, and experts in place to execute at speed.

4 Must-Have Elements of a Cyber Resilience Program

Every cyber resilience program will have its own nuances to protect each business’s unique data and vulnerabilities. However, there are a few must-have elements that define any cyber resilience framework—and here they are:

1. Anticipate

Pinpoint your vital information and determine your vulnerabilities. You want to provide enhanced security for your most valuable assets, and you need to discover flaws in your system that could be exploited.

The best cybersecurity solutions invest heavily in this step. They use vulnerability scanning software and expert assessments to learn about your processes. They’ll use ransomware simulations and penetration testing to test how your cyber resilience framework performs.

2. Withstand

Next, it’s time to put systems and processes in place to protect your data. This includes end point detection and response, managed detection and response, extended detection and response, employee training, multi-factor authentication (MFA), immutable backups, access management, firewalls, and SIEM logging.

Other services include 24/7/365 monitoring, where a cybersecurity solutions provider watches your systems for any threats so that you can respond quickly. Part of the protection step is ensuring you have backups in place and cyber insurance—just in the chance the worst-case scenario happens.

3. Recover

The faster you detect breaches, the faster you can stop them. Speed is everything. If you can cut off access quickly, you can nip many problems in the bud. Problems arise when bad actors get continuous access to your systems and data, and detection has to be a priority.

You need sophisticated artificial intelligence to monitor your systems for any threats. Dangers continue to evolve, and you need a system that evolves with them. Find a solution that providers continue to update to deal with the latest tactics and digital menaces.

Your response plays a big role in how fast and effective the recovery process goes. Respond quickly, protect your data, secure points of entry, and keep your systems online to mitigate downtime and disruptions to customers. Communicate what’s necessary to your customers (if there’s a data breach), and focus on executing your cyber resilience framework game plan.

Implement backups and restore your files quickly. You want to resume operations as normal as fast as possible. Rapid recovery is one of the strongest signals of cyber resilience—prove that attacks won’t slow down your business or affect your customers’ experience.

4. Evolve

Analyze the details to discover what went wrong and what needs to change. Upgrade your systems and processes to prevent the same issues from hurting your business again.

MITRE Framework Vs. NIST Framework: What’s the Difference?

The framework Airiam primarily follows (and the one we described above) is known as the MITRE framework. However, another popular cybersecurity model exists, and it’s called the NIST framework. Here’s how they differ:

  • MITRE Framework: Also referenced as MITRE Adversarial Tactics, Techniques, and Common Knowledge (MITRE ATT&CK). This framework helps businesses understand threats better and uses proactive testing to find vulnerabilities and set up effective countermeasures. The guide that is specific to cyber resilience is known as Cyber Resiliency Approaches and Controls to Mitigate Adversary TTP.
  • NIST Frameworks: Short for The National Institute of Standards and Technology. NIST framework takes a less technical approach to help companies establish required security outcomes by blending best practices to minimize the impact of cyber threats. A popular and effective cyber resilience that focuses on engineering comes from NIST SP 800-160.

The MITRE framework takes a more proactive approach to examining the current cybersecurity landscape and making changes to withstand threats. It’s updated bi-annually, while the NIST framework can go years without seeing changes.

Why You Need a Complete Cyber Resilience Plan

Cyber resilience plans aren’t a nice-to-have—they’re a need-to-have. The recent rise in cybercrime shows that hackers are more determined than ever, and their successful breaches prove that cybersecurity alone isn’t enough. Here are a few reasons every business needs a cyber resilience plan.

Attacks Will Happen

And some inevitably will succeed. Hackers have breached massive companies like Facebook, Uber, LinkedIn, and Adobe—and these businesses spend billions on security and have cybersecurity teams with thousands of employees.

If a hacker wants it bad enough, they’ll find a way to get in.

Cyber resilience doesn’t plan on putting a full stop to attackers. Instead, it assumes that attacks will happen and some will prevail. It plans for how you’ll recover valuable data and keep your services online, protecting both your customers’ information and your brand reputation.

Never Pay Ransoms

Bad actors don’t just want to invade your business for fun (most of the time). They want something. They generally want to hold your data or systems hostage and demand your company pay a ransom to recover it. A cyber resilience plan anticipates this and creates a backup plan so that you’re never at the whim of an attacker’s ultimatum.

For example, if your business has an immutable backup, you can instantly restore your files and keep services online—even if an attacker is trying to hold your systems hostage.

Recover Files Instantly

A cyber resilience framework helps you recover quickly and resume operations as normal. Without a plan in place, you’ll waste valuable time trying to rescue your data and negotiating with bad actors. A cyber resilience plan ensures you can act fast, keep systems online, and maintain excellent customer experiences.

Protect Your Brand Reputation

Attacks aren’t just bad for your bottom line—they’re bad for your brand reputation. Customers will lose trust in your business, and that’s not easy to regain. A cyber resilience framework ensures greater protection for your data and better services, and that’s something customers care about (more than ever) these days.

Best Practices for Designing a Cyber Resilience Strategy

Following a list of best practices ensures you design your cyber resilience framework without any holes. Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning and implementing cyber resilience at your business.

1. Define Your Goals

Figure out what success and failure look like for your organization. Don’t set goals you can’t control. For example, you can control whether you’re attacked—you can only control how you protect and respond.

Think along the lines of uptime, service disruptions, and maximum recovery periods. Start to consider budgetary constraints, and also plan for how much you’d like your cyber resilience plan to save you.

Remember, cyber resilience is less of an expense and more of an investment. However, investing more doesn’t necessarily guarantee more protection—it’s all about investing wisely and making the right cybersecurity and recovery decisions.

2. Stay Up to Date

Cyber resilience is never finished—it’s a never-ending effort to protect your business and ensure it’s stable amidst modern-day threats and challenges. You should be looking at the current cybercrime landscape and analyzing the risks. Study your own assets, framework, and potential vulnerabilities to keep yourself in the know.

Your cyber resilience plan should evolve with emerging technologies and solutions. As attackers adjust to mature cybersecurity programs, they’ll alter their attack plans and strategies—which means you’ll need to do the same.

3. Test Your Plan

Frequently test your cyber resilience framework to ensure you haven’t left any stone unturned. You might consider doing ransomware simulations and penetration testing to find new vulnerabilities before bad actors exploit them.

Do your best to simulate breaking your system. Partner with a third-party cybersecurity solution and have them try to infiltrate your network. Finding weaknesses and loopholes early on gives you time to implement fixes and mitigate risks.

4. Plan for the Worst

Expect the worst to happen. Your cyber resilience plan shouldn’t plan on stopping attackers at the door (though that’d be nice). Attackers will get past your defenses—then what? How will you respond? What if they take over all your systems and encrypt your sensitive data? What will you do?

Go over the worst-case scenarios with your cybersecurity team and partners to decide how you’ll respond. Put protections in place wherever you can, and ensure attackers can’t obstruct or destroy your recovery paths. Always be thinking one step ahead.

5. Hire a Chief Resilience Officer

A chief resilience officer is responsible for planning your resilience strategy, keeping it up to date, and implementing it when necessary. They work with your chief information security officer (CISO) to try and prevent attackers from accessing your networks, but they also make plans for when the hacker does manage to get inside.

Resilience officers ensure your business runs as usual, regardless of attacks and breaches. They work with other key roles at your company to plan tech stacks, data privacy best practices, and digital infrastructure.

6. Partner With Other Departments

Your chief resilience officer should partner with other executives and leaders to integrate cyber resilience best practices throughout the business. This extends into everything from human resource decisions and training to MarTech applications that your marketing and sales teams use.

7. Ensure Compliance

Cyber resilience is a non-negotiable for certain businesses. Industry, national, and state regulations apply different rules to companies for how they need to protect and maintain customer data. Check with your state’s laws to ensure your cyber resilience strategy is on par with government ordinances.

You may need to adjust how you store, encrypt, and transmit data to increase your cyber resilience and comply with regulations. Partner with a cybersecurity solution who’re experts in these fields to ensure you do your due diligence.

8. Cover Gaps With an All-in-One Approach

While you can piece together cybersecurity solutions and teams to protect your network, an all-in-one approach will always be the better option. Choosing bundled end-to-end services and products ensures no gaps are introduced into your system.

This extends to every decision you make, from installing software on laptops to setting up your company’s firewalls and virtual private networks (VPNs).

The experts who provide you services are familiar with the products and protocols, and they’ll be better able to identify threats, protect your systems, respond quickly, and recover your data in full.

9. Secure Cyber Insurance

Cyber insurance and cybersecurity guarantees protect your business from financial disaster. Recovering from a successful cyber attack isn’t always cheap, and it’s a good idea to have insurance to cover you when the worst happens. Cyber insurance coverage isn’t usually bundled with general liability insurance—do your research to ensure you’re covered.

When you partner with Airiam for certain products, we back up our solutions with a $2 million guarantee. This guarantee can even help lower your insurance premiums.

Trust Airiam for End-to-End Cyber Resilience

Airiam automates your cyber resilience program. We help your business anticipate, withstand, recover, and adapt to threats with a range of leading cybersecurity products and services.

Our teams live on the front lines of ransomware events—we see first-hand (on a daily basis) what strategies and tactics attackers are using to breach systems, and we’ve designed our solutions to help your business become resilient to any modern-day threat.

We provide 24/7/365 monitoring, patching, remediations, immutable backups (setup and recovery implementation), penetration testing, and cybersecurity tools and best practices.

Interested? Schedule a consultation with our team to learn how Airiam can provide complete cyber protection for your business.

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