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What is cyber resilience?

Cyber resilience is an organization's ability to prevent, withstand and recover from cybersecurity incidents.

Cyber resilience is a concept that brings business continuity, information systems security and organizational resilience together. The concept describes the ability to continue delivering intended outcomes despite experiencing challenging cyber events, such as cyberattacks, natural disasters or economic slumps. A measured level of information security proficiency and resilience affects how well an organization can continue business operations with little to no downtime.

What is effective cyber resilience?

Effective cyber resilience must be an enterprise-wide risk-based strategy, a collaborative approach driven from executives to everyone in the organization, partners, supply chain participants and customers. It must proactively manage risks, threats, vulnerabilities and the effects on critical information and supporting assets.

Effective cyber resilience also involves governance, risk management, an understanding of data ownership and incident management. Assessing these characteristics also demands experience and judgment.

Furthermore, an organization must also balance cyber risks against attainable opportunities and competitive advantages. It must consider whether cost-effective prevention is viable and whether it can achieve rapid detection and correction with a good short-term effect on cyber resilience. To do this, an enterprise must find the right balance between three types of controls: preventative, detective and corrective. These controls prevent, detect and correct incidents that threaten an organization's cyber resilience.

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Why cyber resilience is important

A cyber resilience strategy is vital for business continuity. It can provide benefits beyond increasing an enterprise's security posture and reducing the risk of exposure to its critical infrastructure. Cyber resilience also helps reduce financial loss and reputational damage. Moreover, if an organization receives cyber resilience certification, it can instill trust in its clients and customers. Furthermore, a cyber-resilient company can optimize the value that it creates for its customers, increasing its competitive advantage through effective and efficient operations.

Mitigating financial loss

Financial loss could lead to a loss of confidence from company stakeholders, such as shareholders, investors, employees and customers. According to the 2020 Cyber Resilient Organization Report by IBM Security®, more than 50% of organizations experienced a cybersecurity incident that disrupted information technology (IT) and business processes. Moreover, the average cost of a data breach is USD 4.24 million according to Ponemon's 2021 Cost of a Breach Study.

Gaining customer trust and business

To attract customers and gain their business, some organizations comply with international management standards, such as ISO/IEC 27001 provided by the International Organization for Standardization. ISO/IEC 27001 provides conditions for an information security management system (ISMS) to manage assets security such as employee details, financial information, intellectual property or third-party entrusted information. In the US, companies might seek certification with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), a prerequisite for processing payments such as with credit cards.

Increasing competitive advantage

Cyber resilience provides organizations a competitive advantage over companies without it. Enterprises that develop management systems based on best practices, such as Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), create an effective operation. Similarly, organizations enhance their operational effectiveness by developing management systems for cyber resilience. Consequently, these systems contribute significant value to their customers. 

How does cyber resilience work?

Cyber resilience can be understood through a lifecycle based on the stages of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) service lifecycle: strategy, design, transition, operation and improvement.

Cyber resilience strategy

Based on the organization's objectives, strategy work identifies critical assets, such as information, systems and services that matter most to it and its stakeholders. This work also includes identifying vulnerabilities and the risks that they face.

Cyber resilience design

Design work selects the management system's appropriate and proportionate controls, procedures and training to prevent harm to critical assets, where practical to do so. The work also identifies who has what authority to decide and act.

Cyber resilience transition

Transition work from design to operational use tests controls and refines incident detection to identify when critical assets are under stress from internal, external, intentional or accidental action.

Cyber resilience operation

Operational work controls, detects and manages cyber events and incidents, including continual control testing to ensure effectiveness, efficiency and consistency.

Cyber resilience evolution

Evolution work continually protects an ever-changing environment. As organizations recover from incidents, they must learn from the experiences, modifying their procedures, training, design and even strategy.

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