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Recognising the value and significance of cyber resilience

  • Written by Sahba Idelkhani, Director of Systems Engineering, McAfee

It’s common knowledge that businesses are frequently under threat from data breaches and cyberattacks. The advent of COVID-19 and a working from home model exposed large flaws in organisational cybersecurity, with controls often reliant and dependent on being within the confines of the corporate environment to work effectively. In addition, we saw attacker activity attempt to capitalise on the pandemic, with more than 18,000 COVID-19 related malicious file detections since January 2020 in Australia alone.


This assault on security from malicious actors not only results in a high monetary cost to companies (globally, cybercrime costs around $945 billion each year), but also hidden costs resulting from lost productivity and business disturbance.


This is why a culture of cyber resilience is so crucial for organisations looking to proactively address the many existing and emerging cybersecurity threats. Cyber resilience at its core focuses on an organisational capability, rather than a technological one, to cope with cybersecurity issues and deliver a desired outcome in times of cybersecurity stress. Emphasising the shared responsibility of all, rather than the concentrated blaming of a few, cyber resilience tasks businesses with the challenge of moving to mitigate attacks in advance, rather than deal with them reactively. However, when organisations do need to deal with them reactively, a cyber resilient business can more optimally deal with the downtime, and keep the wheels turning during an attack.


Maintaining a proactive security posture and future-facing mentality is the bedrock to a cyber-resilient organisation. Here’s how businesses can best integrate cyber resilience into their organisations.


Choose proactive, not reactive measures


While 87 percent of organisations are taking the right steps towards building a solid culture of cybersecurity, adequate levels of cyber resilience continue to fall short. However, more than a third (35%) of Australian respondents don't feel their organisation is cyber resilient. In truth, businesses continue to reactively manage cybersecurity threats rather than proactively develop strategies to achieve organisational resilience. 


Businesses continue to adopt reactive over proactive security measures as there is a lack of awareness around the implications and costs involved in data breaches. A mere 16 percent of Australian respondents in a recent McAfee survey perceive cybersecurity incidents as posing a high impact on their business, and even more concerning, 18 percent see cybersecurity incidents as a low risk to businesses.  


Speed up detection and response efforts


The need for quicker detection and remediation is driving the industry towards Extended Endpoint Detection and Response (XDR) solutions. It’s therefore beneficial for all organisations to create and implement security response plans to ensure they are prepared in the case of a cyberattack—enabling resiliency in the face of a hyperactive threat landscape. A proactive approach through XDR solutions will allow your business to fend off adversarial attacks, drive better and faster decisions and remediation, and provide visibility and control across the entire enterprise (endpoint, network, cloud and applications).


To achieve alignment on cybersecurity and resilience, organisations must have action plans, along with adequate skills and competency across teams to identify and address threats.


The right people at the right time


The need for more skills and talent is one of the most significant issues facing the Australian cybersecurity industry. Australia needs to increase to 17,600 additional cybersecurity workers by 2026 just to meet current demand. The biggest challenge to digital transformation is money being set aside in corporate budgets. 


Where skills shortages are an issue, upskilling existing teams is one of the most cost-effective and strategic solutions. Businesses will reap the rewards of a shorter lead time to upskill and benefit from retaining valuable workplace knowledge. Companies can also develop training to suit the existing team. With almost half of cybersecurity employees also gamers, there's potential for organisations to train staff using gamification. Gamification can significantly raise awareness among IT teams of how breaches can occur and how to best react to them.


When it comes to recruitment, it’s incredibly valuable to build your cyber team with professionals that can bring a different perspective to the team. Instead of seeking talent with a certain tenure in cyber, create more flexible job criteria to encourage those with broader tech experience to apply. This will also breakdown the barrier of entry to emerging talent and graduates.


Given the ever-changing nature of cyber, one of the most important soft skills to possess is a strong willingness to learn, and this quality alone is crucial for any hiring manger to consider when seeking candidates.


A shared responsibility makes everyone cyber-aware


When Australian organisations don't prioritise 'culture, education and awareness' in their cybersecurity strategies, their cyber resiliency will be significantly impacted. They must develop a strong security culture by investing in tools and talent that can manage data protection, cloud, network and device protection technology, security monitoring, and anomaly detection.


Cyber resilience is not only a technological issue. It does not merely sit within the IT and security teams' remit. It is an organisational capability and requires broad business support, awareness and the priority of critical information assets. There needs to be organisational buy-in to understand operational priorities. There must be overt support of the priorities by the whole business to ensure business continuity regardless of the damage an attack may cause.


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