What Is Cyber Resilience? (And Why Is It Important?)

Jesse Sumrak

Cyber resilience isn’t a nice-to-have—it’s a need-to-have. Cybercrime is on the rise, and the problem has shifted to when (not if) bad actors will attack your business.

Reports show that 60% of small-to-medium-sized businesses around the world experienced a cyber attack in 2020, and 45% of the companies were ineffective at mitigating the attacks. In an ideal world, everyone from startups to enterprises could prevent cyber attacks, but that’s just not the case—as we’ve seen with successful hacks of big-name companies like Yahoo Inc., Marriott, Sony, Uber, and Adobe.

It’s near impossible to completely protect your business from cyber attacks, and that’s why the emphasis needs to shift from cybersecurity to cyber resilience. Hacks will happen, and it’s important that your business is prepared to protect, detect, respond, and recover when they do.

Below, we’ll deep dive into everything you need to know about cyber resilience, including what it is, why you need it, and how it works.

Rather than trying to put a full stop on cyber attacks, cyber resilience focuses on the following:

  • Identifying threats: Learn how hackers operate and which of your assets are most at risk. Knowing this information helps you identify where you need to patch holes and prioritize protection and recovery.
  • Minimizing risks: Implement cybersecurity tools and best practices (everything from firewalls to 2FA) to make it harder for bad actors to gain access to your system and limit the damage they can do.
  • Detecting breaches quickly: Find breaches faster so that you can mitigate damages and execute your game plan.
  • Rapidly responding: Take action immediately to begin the recovery process (ideally, hours instead of days or weeks).
  • Recovering completely: Maintain your systems and keep everything operational while you recover data.
    Continually evolving: Adapt to threats and fix risks to prevent hackers from getting in again.

Cyber Resilience Vs. Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity focuses on protecting your systems and endpoints from cyber attacks. It’s a compilation of requirements, technology, and best practices that ensure bad actors don’t infiltrate your company and steal or damage data and systems.

Cyber resilience takes a more holistic approach to digital security. It focuses on prevention, mitigation, recovery, and adaptation. Cybersecurity is one (of many) key components of a comprehensive cyber resilience strategy, but cyber resilience provides more extensive coverage.

Why Is Cyber Resilience Important?

Cyber resilience needs to be a non-negotiable part of every business’s security plan. While the strategies will vary depending on your size, customers, and data sensitivity, operating without a cyber resilience plan is like driving without a seatbelt. Sure, you might go months, years, or even decades without an incident—but once there’s a collision, there’s likely no going back.

Here are a few of the top reasons why cyber resilience is important:

1. Prepare for the Worst

Cyber attacks can happen to anyone, regardless of the size of your business. Larger businesses tend to have more security resources, but they also have more value for hackers to go after. On the other hand, small-to-medium-sized companies might not have as much value to offer, but they often leave cyber resilience as an afterthought (making them more vulnerable).

The best approach to cyber resilience is to prepare for the worst by expecting attacks (and expecting some to be successful). Anticipate that hackers will try to infiltrate your system and prepare like a tornado could tear through your data centers. Threats will occur, and a comprehensive cyber resilience strategy will provide better protection on the front end and top-notch recovery on the back end.

2. Deter Bad Actors

Think about it. If you were a hacker, would you want to go after a beefed-up cyber-resilient company or a more vulnerable target? When it comes to return on investment, bad actors will tend to go after the easier prey. Simply investing in cyber resilience is the first step in preventing hackers from hacking your business.

For example, if you have immutable backups as part of your cyber resilience strategy, you won’t have to worry about paying a hefty ransom to get your data back. Bad actors understand this, and they’ll be less likely to waste their time attacking your business if it’s not going to yield a cash payout.

3. Reduce Financial Loss

The average cost of a data breach in the United States is $9.44m—that’s over twice the global average. And that’s just for a single breach. Businesses with vulnerabilities can be attacked several times, and million-dollar expenses aren’t something your business can afford.

Time is money when it comes to cyber resilience. Accelerating your detection (and, thus, containment) time can lead to incredible cost savings. Some types of data breaches can take almost a year to identify, but shortening your containment to 200 days or fewer yields an average savings of $1.12m.

Recovering after a cyber attack can be debilitating without a cyber resilience plan. Everything from backups and cyber insurance makes recuperation more affordable.

Obviously, data protection and security alone aren’t doing the trick. We can see this as cybercrime continues to rise despite companies’ increased spending on cybersecurity. Prevention can’t be the sole focus—there has to be focus and investment in response and resiliency.

4. Maintain Customer Trust

Trust is the new currency. Like money, it’s hard to grow and quick to lose. Everything you do (and don’t do) influences how customers perceive your brand, especially when it comes to consumer privacy.

Country and market regulations are cracking down on data security and compliance regulations (as we’ve seen with GDPR and CCPA), but consumer trust goes beyond baseline compliance. Customers want to know that your business is doing everything in its power to protect and secure their data, and 81% admit they’d stop engaging with a brand online following a data breach.

However, breaches happen—but that doesn’t mean your customers need to be victims. Fast detection and remediation response times can mitigate damage, protect your customers’ information, and recover stolen data. All of this helps consumers trust your brand, and trust is essential to building your brand in the short term and long term.

5. Mitigate Disruptions

Customer data is important, but so are service disruptions. They can sabotage your reputation and customer trust just as seriously as any breach and can even destroy employee morale.

Imagine your employees starting their work day and not being able to access their email accounts or software. They have no way to do their job, yet they’re still accountable for hitting goals. It’s a frustrating experience for everyone.

Cyber attacks will happen, but it’s your responsibility to ensure your customers don’t experience downtime, outages, or disruptions. A proper cyber resilience plan will help you keep your systems online before, during, and after natural disasters, breaches, or hacking attempts.

The faster you can detect threats and breaches, the quicker you can resolve them—and this decreases the length and potency of service disruptions.

Security breaches aren’t just about trust and financial loss, though. Sometimes, the consequences can be much more serious. For example, an attack on the UK’s national health service leads to the cancellation of 19,000 appointments. And an attack on Maersk, an international shipping company, delayed the delivery of pharmaceuticals, food, and other necessary goods around the world.

6. Bounce Back Quickly

Cybersecurity threats aren’t just a data security problem—they’re an operational hazard. Your business can’t stop operations due to a data breach. It needs to pick itself up, brush it off, adapt, and move forward. That’s the entire focus of the word resilience. The faster you can rebound and return to business as normal, the quicker you can go back to growing your business and recovering your reputation.

Cyber resilience gives you the tools you need to recover quickly. This includes everything from detection, proactive communication, operational delivery, and quick and comprehensive backups.

7. Provide a Competitive Advantage

Cyber resilience increases your uptime and decreases disruptions, making your company and its services a safer choice for consumers. Consumers expect your business to protect their information, but they aren’t confident most companies do enough to keep it secure. Around 70% of consumers doubt businesses provide adequate protection for their information and assume it has been unknowingly compromised.

Businesses that can go above and beyond on the cyber resilience front will win customers over now and retain them for longer. Data privacy is a top concern for consumers at the moment, and they’re not afraid to switch vendors or companies when it comes to finding a safer alternative.

How Does Cyber Resilience Work?

Cyber resilience works in every stage of the cybersecurity lifecycle.

Identify

First, you need to identify your vital information and pinpoint your vulnerabilities. You can’t stop every cyber attack, but you need to provide enhanced security for your most critical assets.

Protect

Implement cybersecurity tools and best practices. This involves everything from MFA to employee training and immutable backups.

Detect

Monitor your systems to detect breaches quickly and stop infringements as quickly as possible.

Respond

Secure your data, lock down points of entry, and ensure your customers don’t experience any downtime or disruptions.

Recover

Implement backups and provide communications to resume operations as normal.

Evolve

Find what went wrong and evolve to prevent the same issues from damaging your business again.

Protect Your Business with Airiam

Ready to evolve your business to become cyber resilient? Partner with Airiam.

We protect your business with a robust, proactive approach. We investigate your vulnerabilities, patch security holes, and build firewalls to protect your 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. That means no more ransom payments, service disruptions, or data loss.

See for yourself. Send us a message to kickstart the discussion about your organization’s cyber resilience, IT, compliance, and digital transformation needs.

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