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Integrating business continuity and cyber resilience into your organizational culture is an important success factor to help achieve business resilience. Julie Miranto explores this area and the benefits that it brings.

Both the definition of business continuity and related professional practices are constantly evolving. While this has well been the case for the last several years, it’s certainly ever-more true in our post-pandemic world. Among the many areas of change is an increased focus on cyber resilience – and an increased appreciation of the role that this plays within business continuity as a whole.

At last, organizations are waking up to the importance of congruence between cross-functional teams and processes, emphasizing that cyber resilience is more than what you do if your systems go down as the result of another disruption or when you have short-term or small-scale data loss. Cyber resilience is part of a much bigger picture and as such is evolving as a critical component of business continuity.

What is cyber resilience?

Cyber resilience goes beyond cyber security controls and best practices. It’s the ‘how’ your organization manages day-to-day operations to decrease the effects of a cyber event on your ability to do business.

Think of cyber resilience as a change in thought and practice, moving from the old approach to cyber security, which considers what happens if your organization has a cyber event, to a more pragmatic approach: what your organization will do when an incident happens.

Are cyber security and cyber resilience the same?

While there are overlaps between cyber resilience and cyber security, they’re not one and the same.

Here’s a simple way to look at their differences. Think of cyber security as all of the controls, policies, and procedures your organization has in place as a defense mechanism against cyber events. These cyber practices are definitely an important and long-standing part of many business continuity programs. But, in response to the large increase in cyber incidents in recent years, we’ve learned that even the best cyber security programs can’t stop all attacks. For organizations of all sizes, taking a ‘when’ not ‘if’ expectation of cyber incidents has become the realistic approach.

What are the components of cyber resilience?

If your organization is just beginning to implement cyber resilience best practices or you’re ready to mature the cyber components of your existing business continuity program, you may have a few questions about how you can do so effectively. Here are a few tips.

First, consider developing a cyber resilience plan in the same way as you would do for, let’s say, disaster response. While there are cyber components you’ll likely weave into all of your business continuity plans, you may find it beneficial to manage your comprehensive cyber-related processes in a specific cyber resilience plan, sitting within the auspices of the main business continuity management system.

For true cyber resilience, incorporate at least these four core components in your planning: anticipation (your environment and real-world attacks), vulnerability identification (critical systems, operations, and related weaknesses and security issues), response planning (what you’ll do if you experience an attack), and resilience (your return to normal as soon as possible).

When planning, remember these core actions:

  • Anticipate
  • Protect
  • Detect
  • Defend
  • Recover
  • Adapt.

In addition to those core elements, your cyber resilience plans should take into consideration:

  • Data protection, storage, and recovery
  • Information security management such as controls, policies, and processes
  • Impact analysis for critical systems, functions, and data
  • Organizational awareness with ongoing training and education
  • System hardening, for example, adopting zero-trust policies and other controls
  • Testing and exercises of your existing controls, plans, and processes
  • Incident management
  • Event response
  • Ongoing evaluation, feedback, and plan improvements that reflect organizational changes and the changing threat landscape for your environment.

What are the benefits of integrating cyber resilience and business continuity?

When we talk about the evolution of cyber security into a culture of cyber resilience, it’s worth noting the varied and many benefits it can bring to your business continuity program.

Decreased incident impact

A single cyber incident can have far-reaching and long-lasting impacts on your organization. Even a small-scale event can disrupt your operations, making it difficult, if not impossible, to deliver your core goods and services. On top of that, your reputation could be damaged, you could lose customers, and you could face a range of legal, compliance, regulatory, and civil penalties. And, depending on the nature of the event and the events leading up to it, there may even be a chance of criminal prosecution. By integrating cyber resilience into your business continuity program, you can anticipate what these impacts may be, how severe they could potentially be, and make plans to mitigate those impacts.

Achieve RTOs and RPOs

Your recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) aren’t just statistics to leave hidden within the recesses of your business continuity management system. They’re important parts of ensuring you’re able to return to normal as soon as possible—with as minimal impact to your operations as possible.

But sometimes, during incident response, especially for an event you weren’t anticipating—such as a ransomware attack—it can be easy to overlook your objectives. Your team might be so focused on getting your systems restored, they overlook, for example, data loss impact.

Including cyber resilience in your business continuity program helps keep both your RTOs and RPOs front-of-mind, along with necessary processes to meet those important milestones.

Meet compliance mandates

A growing number of regulatory and oversight agencies—even some states—now have a range of cyber security and privacy mandates for organizations that handle, process, store, or transmit sensitive data such as personal health information (PHI) or personally identifiable information (PII). As cyber breaches put an increasing number of these records at risk, a growing number of expectations and requirements are being pushed down to the individual organizational level.

And for many, it’s not just about ensuring you have the right cyber security controls in place. It’s about ensuring you can anticipate, respond to, stop, and quickly recover from an incident to decrease impact on your consumers and their sensitive and protected data.

Cyber resilience, integrated with your business continuity program, can help you manage and evaluate your effectiveness and help you understand just how effective your controls and processes are long before an incident, breach, or audit.

The author

Julie Miranto is Product Marketing Manager at Riskonnect.

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