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cyber-crisis readiness

Talent is the most important part of cyber-crisis preparedness.

1. Talent & planning

The most essential component of cyber resilience (and cyber-crisis readiness specifically) is to have the right people preparing by sitting around the virtual or actual table, rehearsing for actual cyber crises and dealing with them when they come.

A well-formed crisis management team and plan will consist of:

  • Specified individuals, including from the highest level of the organization, and including a liaison to the board or other oversight body

  • A crisis-management team leader and a backup leader as well as alternates to the main core group members

  • Regular meetings of the team (principals and alternates) to compare notes, review, update, revise protocols and engage in scenario exercises

  • A customized crisis-management plan, no matter how simple, with details about the who, what, when, why and how of a crisis

  • A key, high-level team member with knowledge and visibility of the digital and technological footprint of the organization and its information security and business continuity systems, like a chief information security officer or similar

2. Technology & infosec governance

It is critical for an organization to have determined its overall technology and information security (infosec) governance approach – in other words there needs to be a method to the madness of how an organization determines, protects and runs interference on all things digital within its footprint.

This would include connecting the dots and having an overall philosophy determined at the highest levels of the organization (including the board and management) on how to deal with overarching data, infosec and cybersecurity governance, as well as linking crisis management to the following:

  • IT systems support

  • Human resources and travel protocols

  • Data protection and retrieval

  • Accounting and finance systems

  • Legal and regulatory issues, requirements and implications

  • Facilities management

3. Training & communication

An entity – regardless of size – must have some form of cyber-hygiene education plan in place where testing of the system and teaching of staff and third parties about the “do’s and don’ts” is critical and always ongoing.

Training and preparedness need to extend to all corners of the organization from the very top (the board should be informed and trained regularly on the entity’s cyber-resilience) to the latest recruits, and across all disciplines, functions, operations, sub-entities and far-reaching locations. Moreover, crisis-preventing cyber-hygiene training and communications should extend to the supply chain ecosystem of an entity as well, since so much of the cyber-threat matrix enters an entity’s domain through third parties.

4. Technology tools

As the people, governance, training and communications pieces of a cyber-crisis plan take shape, it is critically important that the team and the plan have the right insight into and mapping of all the necessary and desirable technology tools deployed throughout the organization – both in advance of a major cyber-crisis and for purposes of maintaining post-crisis business continuity.

When looking at security tools that should be in place, there are three key concepts to consider: visibility, simplicity and automation.

  • Visibility. As the saying goes: “You can’t protect what you can’t see.” It is critical that an organization be able to constantly monitor its cyber environment and quickly move from a bird’s eye view into the specific actions that have happened.

  • Simplicity. We are living in a challenging time where skilled security personnel are in very high demand and entry-level personnel need to use tools that enable them to perform at more experienced analyst levels, especially when there is a serious cyber breach.

  • Automation. It is critical to having an effective incident response plan. With the propagation of so many security tools, it is no wonder that analysts are overwhelmed with more alerts than ever before. Manual tasks and repetitive work should be effortlessly completed with an effective automation program that frees infosec personnel to focus on the real threats and on proactive threat hunting.

5. Triangulation & continuous improvement

Finally, there is a series of important system-wide practices and policies that need to be part of the cyber-crisis readiness approach of every entity that helps to triangulate (identify, mitigate and solve) problems preferably before they happen but often after the fact as well. They include:

  • A robust and agile enterprise risk-management programme that seamlessly incorporates cyber-risk issues

  • A likewise robust auditing and evaluation system – with both internal and external experts – who can deploy, read and interpret information security and related concerns, gaps and problems before they become too large

  • A deliberate and concrete continuous improvement system embedded into the entity where lessons learned from past mistakes are deeply analyzed and utilized to integrate improvements into the risk and security profile of the entity

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