Cyber Resilience vs. Cybersecurity: What’s the Difference and How to Build a Plan for Both

As cyber events have moved from a possibility to a given, your organization must plan for cybersecurity and cyber resiliency. But how do these two practice areas differ?

Let’s look at how cyber resilience compares to cybersecurity, why the two terms can’t be used interchangeably, and how you can build successful programs for both.

Cyber Resilience vs. Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity refers to the methods and processes of protecting electronic data. This includes identifying data and where it resides and implementing technology and business practices to protect it.

Cyber resilience is defined as your organization’s ability to withstand or quickly recover from cyber events that disrupt usual business operations. 

To fully discern the difference between these two concepts, it’s important to understand the two types of cyberattacks that an organization may fall victim to:

  1. A data breach, in which sensitive information is exfiltrated by a hacker or nation state.
  2. Malicious activity that knocks your organization offline or disrupts regular business operations, such as a ransomware or denial-of-service attack.

While a cybersecurity strategy can help prevent a data breach or reduce the risk of malicious activity, a cyber resilience strategy specifically helps mitigate the impacts of these attacks – which is why your organization must have a plan for both.

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Building a Cybersecurity and Cyber Resilience Program

The following steps can help you integrate your cybersecurity and cyber resilience strategies.

1. Regularly backup data

Backup is crucial to data protection and can help expedite a return to normal operations in the event of a cyberattack. Consider this scenario: Your network is hit with a sophisticated ransomware attack that encrypts all your data. The hackers demand that you pay a ransom or the encrypted data will be destroyed. If you keep thorough and regular backups of your data on a separate network you can simply restore any wiped data, giving you a higher level of cyber resiliency.

2. Simulate a security incident

If you assume the mentality of “when, not if” your organization may experience a cyberattack, you can more effectively strengthen your cyber resilience strategy and cybersecurity posture. 

Running through the steps your organization will take in the event of a cybersecurity incident – from how you’ll escalate a potential security breach to notifying law enforcement, customers, and investors – will help make everyone involved feel more confident and increase cyber resiliency.

3. Convey the importance of cybersecurity and cyber resilience to the board

Successful cybersecurity protection and resilience can only be achieved if everyone’s on the same page about how well prepared your organization is to defend itself against a cyberattack and recover business operations should the attack prove successful. This includes your organization’s board of directors.

But board members aren’t always familiar with technical metrics or jargon that CISOs often include in their reports and presentations. They need easily digestible metrics that reframe the conversation about cybersecurity and resiliency into one about business risk.

To make sure you’re delivering the right metrics and information to the board, download this free guide. It outlines how to nail down your presentation style and goals, how to select metrics the board cares about, and more.

CISO Reporting to Board eBook

In this guide, we’ll arm you with information to help you before, during, and after your next board presentation.

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4. Implement a continuous improvement program

Don’t think of your cybersecurity and cyber resilience programs as one-and-done efforts. Strive to learn from your risk remediation, mitigation, and recovery initiatives – on a continuous basis.

For instance, BitSight provides a suite of tools that you can use to continuously monitor for emerging risk in your digital environment and that of your third parties. With this insight, you can move quickly to fix vulnerabilities before a bad actor exploits them. You can also learn from the data that BitSight provides to identify negative trends and patterns in your security performance that require attention. For instance, if you receive alerts about vulnerabilities like unpatched systems on a regular basis, you may need to revisit your patching policies and cadence.

You can also use BitSight to plan and measure improvement over time. With BitSight, you can align investments and actions where they will have the highest measurable impact for your organization’s cybersecurity program, as well as facilitate data-driven conversations around cybersecurity among key stakeholders.

Commit to Both Cybersecurity and Cyber Resilience

Developing successful cybersecurity and cyber resilience strategies is an ongoing mission. Because cyber threats are constantly evolving, ongoing commitment and attention is key to protecting your organization’s digital assets and bouncing back as quickly as possible.