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What is Cyber Resilience?

Cyber Resilience

researchHQ’s Key Takeaways:

  • Cyber resilience is a company’s ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from cyberattacks and data breaches.
  • Traditional security measures are no longer sufficient to ensure the security of a company’s network and data.
  • An effective cyber resilience strategy involves risk identification and assessment, monitoring the entire attack-surface, setting up a response plan and integrating all of this into the company’s daily routine.
  • Successful cyber resilience enhances the security of a company’s systems, minimises financial and reputational costs, ensures regulatory compliance and improves day-to-day operations.


Cyber resilience is your ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from cyberattacks and data breaches while continuing to operate effectively.

An organization is cyber resilient when they can defend against cyber threats, have adequate cybersecurity risk management, and can guarantee business continuity during and after cyber incidents.

Cyber resilience, alongside attack surface management, has emerged over the past few years because traditional security controls such as penetration testing and security questionnaires are no longer enough to minimize cyber risk.

The objective of cyber resilience is to maintain your ability to deliver goods and services at all times. This can include the ability to restore regular mechanisms, as well as the ability to continuously change or modify mechanisms on an as-needed basis even after regular mechanisms have failed, such as during a crisis or after a security breach.

Why is cyber resilience important?

Cyber resilience is important because traditional security measures are no longer enough to ensure adequate information security, data security, and network security. In fact, many CISOs and IT security teams now assume that attackers will eventually gain unauthorized access to their organization.

The truth is adverse cyber events negatively impact the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of organizations every day. These events may be intentional or unintentional (e.g. failed software update) and caused by humans, nature, or a combination thereof.

Today, it’s as important to be able to respond to and recover from security breaches as it is to be able to prevent them.

The need for cyber resiliency was well summed up by Lt. Gen. Ted F. Bowlds, former Commander, Electronic Systems Center, USAF:

“You are going to be attacked; your computers are going to be attacked, and the question is, how do you fight through the attack? How do you maintain your operations?”

What are the four elements of a successful cyber resilience strategy?

The four elements of a successful cyber resilience strategy are:

Manage and protect: This involves developing the ability to identify, assess, and manage cyber risks associated with network and information systems, including those across your third-party and fourth-party vendors.

Identify and detect: This involves the use of continuous security monitoring and attack surface management to detect anomalies and potential data breaches and data leaks before any significant damage.

Respond and recover: This involves implementing adequate incident response planning to ensure business continuity even if you are the victim of a cyberattack.

Govern and assure: The final element is to ensure that your cyber resilience program is overseen from the top of your organization and part of business as usual.

How does cyber resilience work?

Any cyber resilience strategy, when put in practice, needs to be considered a preventive measure to counteract human error, vulnerabilities in software and hardware, and misconfiguration. Therefore, the goal of cyber resilience is to protect the organization, while understanding that there will likely be insecure parts, no matter how robust security controls are.

The components of any cyber resilience strategy include:

Threat protection: Cybercriminals advance in lockstep with security controls. What were once state of the art controls are now the bare minimum required to protect an organization. A third-party risk management and attack surface management software bundle, like UpGuard Vendor Risk and UpGuard BreachSight, is one of the best options you can choose to improve your organization’s cyber resiliency. Together, they can help you minimize first, third, and fourth-party risks caused by misconfiguration, data leaks, and data breaches. They’ll also help you understand where your most at risk through always up-to-date security ratings.

Recoverability: After a security incident, your organization must be able to return to regular operations quickly. This generally means you have infrastructure redundancies and data backups across different regions in case a natural disaster or cyberattacks impacts a specific part of the world. It’s also recommended that you run tabletop exercises to ensure that everyone knows what their role is in the event of a cyberattack. Read our guide on incident response planning for more information.

Adaptability: While planning is important, adaptability is paramount. Your organization must be able to evolve and adapt to new tactics that cyber criminals come up with. We recommend investing in continuous security monitoring so your security team can recognize security issues in real-time and immediately take action.

Durability: Your organization’s durability is its capability to effectively operate after a security breach. With system improvements, configuration management, vulnerability management, and attack surface management, your organization’s cyber resilience will improve.

What are the benefits of cyber resilience?

Cyber resilience strategies provide a range of benefits before, during, and after cyberattacks:

Enhanced systems security: Cyber resilience doesn’t only help with responding to and surviving an attack. It can also help your organization develop strategies to improve IT governance, boost safety and security across critical assets, improve data protection efforts, avoid the impacts of natural disasters, and reduce human error.

Reduced financial loss: Regardless of how good your security is, the fact is no one is immune to cyberattacks or misconfiguration. The average cost of a data breach is now $3.92 million globally, enough to kill many small to medium size businesses. In addition to financial costs, the reputational impact of data breaches is increasing due to the introduction of general data protection laws and stringent data breach notification requirements.

Regulatory and legal compliance: For many industries, cyber resilience is a requirement. For example, FISMA defines a framework for managing information security that must be followed by all information systems used or operated by a U.S. federal government agency in the executive or legislative branches and by third-party vendors who work on behalf of a federal agency in those branches. The framework is further defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) who has published standards and guidelines such as FIPS 199 Standards for Security Categorization of Federal Information and Information Systems, FIPS 200 Minimum Security Requirements for Federal Information and Information Systems and the NIST 800 series.
Improved work culture and internal processes: Cyber resilience is a team sport. Every employee has a role to play in protecting your organization’s sensitive data and ensuring adequate incident response. When people are empowered to take security seriously, sensitive data and physical assets are at far less risk.

Reputation protection: Poor cyber resilience can irreversibly damage your organization’s reputation. This is driven by governments establishing general data protection laws, following the leadership of the European Union’s GDPR. For example, while the United States does not have a nation-wide equivalent to GDPR, California has CCPA, Florida has FIPA, and New York has the SHIELD Act. All are designed to protect the personally identifiable information of their constituents. Outside of the United States, Brazil has introduced a very similar law to GDPR called LGPD.
More trust across customer and vendor ecosystem: A lot of emphasis has been placed on vendor risk management and third-party risk management frameworks over the last decade, and rightly so. However, trust is a two-way street. It’s essential that your organization has cyber resiliency strategies in place before asking your vendors to. If your organization has an ineffective cyber resiliency, it can damage the reputation of your customers and vendors.

A better IT team: One of the underemphasized benefits of cyber resilience is that it improves the daily operations of your IT department. An organization with a hands-on IT team not only improves the ability to respond to threats, but it also helps to ensure day-to-day operations are running smoothly.

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Business Challenge:We've curated the most common business challenges Cyber resilience in disruptive times
Stage:We've split the research process into 3 tasks Identify Problems and Explore Solutions

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