Understanding Cyber Resilience

It’s about being prepared … not bulletproof!

The standard cyber security model for SMBs is fundamentally broken, it is missing a focus on cyber resilience. The current model is causing organizations worldwide, including SMBs here in the Twin Cities, to invest billions of dollars in cyber-security protections. And yet, massive breaches continue to occur, affecting companies throughout Minnesota and the world.

There is something amiss when companies spend a trillion dollars a year on cyber protections, and yet losses in 2021 are expected to hit over $6 trillion. Those numbers just don’t add up!

Clearly, there is something fundamentally broken with the standard model of cybersecurity.

Typical cybersecurity measures are trying to solve the wrong problem

The fundamental flaw of cyber security is that it is outdated.  Cyber security solutions used by SMBs and their Managed Service Providers continue to focus on “keeping people out.” Their main focus is basically trying to be bulletproof and not allow malicious actors to breach their perimeter.

Redefining cyber security

Core cyber security tools like anti-malware and firewalls are still necessary, as their purpose is to identify and block as many cyber threats as possible. So those perimeter defenses still have value.  However, they aren’t enough on their own.

The new cyber security paradigm is now described by the term  “cyber-resilience” and revolves around technologies that include perimeter defenses at their core.  But cyber resilience also addresses proper systems and protocols when you get attacked and breached.

What is cyber resilience?

Cyber resilience measures your organization’s business strength when preparing for, dealing with, and recovering from a cyber attack.  It relies on your ability to anticipate, identify, detect, protect, respond, and recover quickly from a cyber event.

Cyber resilience combines cyber security, business continuity, and incident response


Cyber resilience vs. cyber security

The difference between cyber security and cyber-resilience comes down to the expected outcomes of each.

Cyber security:   Is a component of cyber resilience and consists of technology processes and measures to protect networks, systems, and sensitive data from cyber attacks.  Effective cyber-security reduces the chances of cyber attacks and protects your organization from external and internal assaults.

Cyber resilience: It reflects the fact that SMB technology systems will always have flaws and weaknesses that are exploitable.  It has a much bigger scope and includes cyber security and business resilience. Cyber resilience focuses on instances when your company is disrupted by things like power outages, weather emergencies, and human error. This concept helps SMBs prepare, prevent, respond, and successfully recover to pre-event business levels and processes.

Why cyber resilience?

Because traditional cybersecurity measures for SMBs are just not enough.

The truth is, harmful cyber events negatively impact SMBs every day. These events may be external or internal and may be intentional or unintentional, caused by humans, nature, or a combination of both.

It isn’t a matter of if they will get in; it is when!

Today, it’s as critical for SMBs to be able to respond and recover from security breaches as it is to be able to prevent them.  Cyber resilience aims to give your organization a plan that will consider actions and outcomes before, during, and after an event.

What are the benefits:

  • It improves your cyber-security posture
  • Reduces financial losses
  • Maintains the trust of customers
  • Protects your organization’s reputation
  • Maintains the trust of vendors
  • Improves your cultural and internal processes
  • Maintains the trust of employees

How does cyber resilience work?

It is a strategy that is considered a preventive measure to counteract human error and security weaknesses in hardware and software. The overall purpose  is to protect the organization while understanding that there will likely be insecure parts, no matter how robust security controls are.

The main components of your cyber reliance strategy should include:

  • Threat protection:  As security solutions advance, so does the ability of the cyber-attackers to breach your system. What were once state-of-the-art solutions are now the bare minimum requirements to protect your SMB.
  • Recoverability: After a security incident, whether internal or external, your organization must have the ability to return to normal operations quickly.
  • Adaptability: Your organization must evolve and adapt to new tactics that cyber-criminals deploy. Investing in continuous security monitoring so your people can recognize security issues in real-time and take immediate action is critical.
  • Resilience: Your organization’s ability to effectively operate after a security breach.


The six elements of a successful cyber resilience strategy

  1. Identify

Includes the use of attack surface management, continuous monitoring to identify irregularities and breaches before they cause any significant damage

  1. Protect

A good cyber resilience strategy protects your system, your applications, and your data. You need to ensure that only authorized users can access your system.

  1. Detect:

You need the ability to detect when someone is trying to act maliciously against your systems and can come externally or internally.

  1. Respond

You also need to Developing an incident response plan, identifying roles and responsibilities to ensure you can operate normally even after a cyber-attack.

  1. Recover

Ability to quickly store digital and technology platforms and adapt and recover mission-critical systems to avoid disruption

  1. Anticipate

You want to rely on automation, machine learning, and adaptive cyber-threat detection to address future threats


A digital transformation mindset

Cyber resilience goes hand in hand with digital transformation.  Both require a similar way of thinking.  Cyber resilience recognizes that the outdated notion of SMBs having impenetrable defenses be abandoned.  Cyber resilience assumes that attackers will be successful, so measures must be in place to prevent, respond, and recover from these attacks.

For those measures to be successful, cybersecurity needs to be everybody’s responsibility, and cyber best practices need to be inserted into all aspects of the organization.

As the pandemic has changed all aspects of your business, it has accelerated the need for digital transformation in SMBs. As digital transformation has accelerated, so too have efforts to boost cybersecurity. Businesses realize that cyber-resilience is critical if they are to survive the effects of COVID.

Digital transformation requires a greater dependency on IT. Because SMBs are more dependent on IT, they need strong cyber resiliency. Without it, a business can’t be confident of its ability to continue operations when faced with increased cyber threats that accompany increased dependence on IT.

Do you put cyber-security first?

Is cyber-security front and center of your strategies, or are you just paying it lip service? Do you have a security-first culture, and does your leadership put cyber resilience in the same “box” as operational performance?

Like measuring your business’s ROI and profitability, cyber-security and cyber resilience must be a strategic priority that you track and measure.

Closing thoughts:

Cyber resilience is an organization-wide strategy that actively monitors threats, risks, and weak points. It is a collaborative strategy that extends to everyone your company connects with.

Organizations should keep in mind that cybersecurity is not the same as cyber resilience.  When cybersecurity fails, you must have a plan in place to assess the problem and have the ability to recover quickly back to pre-cyber-event status.


Next Steps

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