What does good resilience look like?

Business leaders can learn a lot about cyberdefense by studying how a lioness protects her cubs. Like any mother, she puts up the stiffest defenses against all known forms of attack. But she will also take care to instill resilience in her offspring in case, inevitably, those defenses at some point fail.

Cyber-resilience is industry-speak for the ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from cyberattacks, while cybersecurity is the protection put in place to prevent attacks from happening at all.

The subtle differences between cybersecurity and cyber-resilience can be argued over endlessly, but the defining contrast comes down to absolutes. An organization is either secure or insecure for as long as defenses hold or do not. The measure of cyber-resilience, meanwhile, is along a spectrum.

An organization with a strong cyber-culture led by its Board recognizes that the two disciplines are inexorably connected and of equal value. And the thread that runs through both is threat intelligence (TI).

Plan for the worst

Threat intelligence – the ability to identify, contextualize and understand the threats you face – must be applied to the unique environment of the organization at hand; its industry sector, business mission, technology topology and other contextual factors. This is key to intersecting cybersecurity and cyber-resilience, so that threats to a given landscape of cyber assets, network infrastructures, data sets, applications and resources can be addressed before, during and after any successful attack.

The inconvenient truth is that cyberattacks do succeed, and acknowledging that fact makes it significantly less likely to happen. But while attacks are inevitable, the nature of your response is not.

This mindset is the foundation for optimum cyber-resilience; protecting against cyber risks, limiting the severity of attacks and ensuring business continuity come what may. Focusing all your attention instead on only cybersecurity defenses can breed complacency and compromise agility.

Simulate real life

Accurate, contextual TI will pinpoint the threat actors most motivated to steal data and create business disruption to your organization or industry sector. What’s more, it will identify the likely threat vectors they will employ to achieve their objectives. But look beyond how this can help inform and adapt your cyberdefense processes and consider its additional value as the ultimate role-playing simulation – beefing-up organizational cyber-resilience in readiness for the real thing.

With threat intelligence, ‘red teams’ can launch simulated attacks that reflect probable scenarios and storylines that are unique to your business. This provides the optimum proving ground for your incident response management processes.

Prioritize actionable insights

TI is many orders of magnitude more valuable than mere information. The quality and freshness of data ingested, the depth and variety of sources leveraged, and the expert prioritization of insights into decisive action enable security teams to stay on top of the sheer volume of cyber risks as they rapidly evolve.

The value of good TI is brought to the fore when organizations come under cyberattack, qualifying and triaging insights so that orchestration systems and their operators prioritize relevant indicators of compromise (IOCs) and resolve incidents faster, saving time and money. And because TI systems are increasingly automated and enabled by APIs, information can be extracted to feed other systems and threat mitigation resources.

Learn from cyberattack episodes

Rather than be in denial about post-breach scenarios, over the last ten years business leaders have steadily grown to accept the reality that cyberthreats can occasionally impact day-to-day operations to some extent. But while once may be forgivable, twice is not. Picking through the evidence of a cyberattack, IT professionals want to know how it happened but management simply want to know it won’t happen again.

TI plays a vital role here, providing accessible information to all stakeholders (and skill levels) so that affected parties can obtain the information they require, at pace.

For an organization to succeed amid rising threat levels, the importance of both cybersecurity and cyber-resilience must be understood by its Board.

Operational teams can best convey this value by demonstrating how security and resilience work together rather than in parallel streams. Committing to high-quality TI supports this investment thesis, maximizing the utility of data to assess, prevent, monitor, respond to and learn from a rapidly changing threat landscape.

Instead of choosing between being secure and being resilient, organizations must harness TI to strive for both.

This way, you not only bolster your cyber defenses to prevent attack, but – using the same uniquely tuned insights – you can also automatically detect any breaches that slip through the net, stop them spreading and adapt those defenses to prevent similar attacks.

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