Cyber Resilience: What It Means and Why It Matters

There are currently more than 1.5 billion websites on the internet and it is estimated that by the end of 2021, 99% of organizations will be using one or more SaaS solutions. This means that almost every business that exists today has an online presence, that reliance on digital technologies continues to grow and that digital assets are exploding.

In an increasingly digitized world where cyberattacks are growing at an alarming rate, it is hard to imagine running a business without a comprehensive cyber resilience strategy. With the shift towards hybrid work, cyberattacks are an unfortunate reality for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Attacks leveraging social engineering and other techniques are increasingly effective, which means no organization is safe. A solid cyber resilience program enables you to prepare for and effectively respond to and recover from such attacks. A cyber-resilient organization can protect its core business functions against cyberattacks and ensure business continuity during and after a disruptive incident.

What Does Cyber Resilience Mean?

As defined by the NIST Computer Security Resource Center, cyber resilience is “the ability to anticipate, withstand, recover from and adapt to adverse conditions, stresses, attacks or compromises on systems that use or are enabled by cyber resources.”

Under the guidance of NIST SP.800-171r2, this means, with regards to IT systems and communications, organizations should aim to:

  • Employ architectural designs, software development techniques and systems engineering principles that promote effective information security within organizational systems.
  • Apply systems security engineering principles to new development systems or systems undergoing major upgrades.
  • Develop trustworthy, secure, resilient systems to reduce the susceptibility of organizations to disruptions, hazards and threats.

What Is the Goal of Cyber Resilience?

Cyber resiliency enables you to manage, mitigate and rapidly recover from cybersecurity incidents with minimal or no damage. It allows you to not only defend against known threats and crises but also survive and thrive in the face of unforeseen potentially disruptive events.

A sound cyber resilience strategy aims to protect your organization against cyberthreats, mitigate the severity of attacks and keep your business afloat despite an attack. Cyber resiliency enables your business to effectively manage a threat or breach while ensuring critical business functions remain unhindered.

Why Do We Need Cyber Resilience?

Cybercrimes are surging at an alarming rate. It is estimated that, on average, a hacker attack takes place every 39 seconds. Along with the number, the complexity of cyberthreats also continues to increase as cybercriminals deploy sophisticated techniques to penetrate even the toughest security systems. One successful cyberattack is enough to put an organization out of business for good.

As per Mimecast’s The State of Email Security Report 2020, 31% of organizations experienced data loss due to a lack of cyber resilience preparedness. Cyber resilience goes beyond traditional security mechanisms and cybersecurity to tackle today’s evolving cyber risks. This includes defending, mitigating and recovering from threats such as a cybersecurity breach or cyberattack.

Cyber resilience is highly beneficial for your organization. It protects your business from severe damages and financial losses caused by data loss incidents and cyberattacks by improving your overall security posture. Cyber resilience helps protect your brand reputation by enabling you to efficiently manage cyber risks. It helps improve your organization’s corporate culture and business processes, thereby reducing risk and enhancing security in the process. A cyber resilience plan helps you comply with complex legal and regulatory requirements. Cyber resilience minimizes business disruptions and downtime and enables you to continue business operations during and after a cyber incident.

What Are the Components of Cyber Resilience?

Apart from following the data security principles outlined by the CIA Triad (confidentiality, integrity, availability), a successful cyber resilience framework is built on the foundation of vigilance and visibility. A top-down approach in developing an enterprise-wide incident response strategy will enable your organization to address threats effectively while maintaining the integrity of your business model.

A robust cyber resilience framework is built on four key components:

  1. Protect: This first step to building a strong cyber resiliency strategy is to protect your systems, applications and data. Ensure necessary security measures are in place to prevent unauthorized personnel from accessing your critical systems and data.  
  2. Detect: The next step is to develop the ability and process, such as continuous monitoring and attack surface management, to identify threats (malicious or unintentional) before a security breach or data loss incident occurs.
  3. Recover: When disasters strike, timely recovery is crucial to minimize the impact on your business and reduce downtime. Ensure an incident response plan is in place so critical business processes are unhindered and business continuity is maintained during and even after a cyberattack.  
  4. Adapt: Cybercriminals are constantly evolving and adopting new tactics to thwart an organization’s defense systems. One of the key components of a cyber resilience framework is the ability to adapt and improvise your organization’s overall security stance. Learn from past events and implement the knowledge you’ve gathered to plug any potential gaps to improve your security strategies and stay one step ahead of cybercriminals. 

Cybersecurity vs. Cyber Resilience

In a business world filled with cyber risks and uncertainties, cybersecurity and cyber resilience act as a safety net for your business. Cybersecurity and cyber resilience, together, not only ensure that your company’s critical systems and data are protected from both internal and external threats, but also enable you to run your business without a hitch even when the unexpected does occur.

Let’s take a closer look at cybersecurity and cyber resilience to better understand each concept and the role they play in keeping your business and data safe.


Cybersecurity deals with how to protect business-critical data, systems and applications. Cybersecurity is a defense strategy that involves using different tools, technologies and processes to protect against and prevent threat actors from unauthorized access to data and breaking into your company’s network. Cybersecurity aims to keep threats away and prevent disasters from occurring in the first place. 

Cyber Resilience

Business leaders across the globe realize that no cybersecurity solution is good enough to tackle today’s sophisticated cyberattacks. Despite ramping up your defenses, cybercriminals can still take advantage of human error or find loopholes and penetrate your company’s network and IT systems. This is where cyber resiliency comes in.

Cyber resilience is a broad concept that encompasses data security, IT infrastructure, business functions and business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR). While cybersecurity aims to protect IT systems and data, cyber resiliency’s main goal is rapid recovery and business continuity in the face of an attack. Cyber resiliency is accepting that successful cyberattacks are a reality and devising a strategy to run business operations with minimal disruption when such instances happen. 

How Do You Achieve Cyber Resilience?

To address the challenges of operating in a global, digital economy, and in preparing strategies and safeguards for cyber resilience, you must:

  • Understand the current cyberthreat landscape, including adversary capabilities and intentions (in part revealed by the targeting actions of those adversaries).
  • Identify stakeholder assets and protection needs in order to provide protection commensurate with the criticality of those assets and the consequences of asset loss.
  • Understand the growing complexity of digital systems to effectively manage and address uncertainty associated with that complexity.
  • Integrate security requirements, functions and services into the mainstream management and technical processes within the system development lifecycle.
  • Prioritize the design of trustworthy, secure systems capable of protecting stakeholder assets.

This may be achieved by adhering to the following security practices:

  • Setting apart user functionality and system management functionality.
    • Functionality includes the ability to administer databases, network(s), servers and workstations.
    • Separation may be physical, logical or both.
    • Separation may be achieved by differentiating computers, central processing units, operating systems, network addresses for users and system management as well as virtualization techniques, or a combination of the aforementioned.
    • Administrative interfaces should use separate authentication methods from users of any other system resource. Furthermore, administrative domains may be isolated on separate domains and protected by additional access controls.
  • Preventing unauthorized/unintended information transfer via shared system resources.
    • Protect information by prior users, roles or processes from being available to current users, roles or processes that obtain access to shared system resources.
  • Restricting network communications traffic and allowing communications traffic by exception (deny all, permit by exception).
    • By restricting network communications traffic at system boundaries, the policy in practice ensures only those connections that are essential and approved are allowed.
    • Prevent remote devices (i.e., notebooks, smartphones, tablets) from simultaneously establishing non-remote connections with your organization’s systems (split tunneling). Split tunneling allows unauthorized external connections, making systems more vulnerable to attack and exfiltration of organizational resources.
  • Implementing cryptographic mechanisms to prevent unauthorized disclosure of controlled unclassified information (CUI) during transmission, unless otherwise protected by alternative, physical safeguards.
    • Secure information transfer on internal and external networks as well as system components that transmit information such as servers, computers (desktop, notebook), mobile devices, printers, copiers, scanners and fax machines.
    • Controls for transmission confidentiality should be fully dedicated services and highly specialized to meet customer needs.
    • An alternative physical safeguard may be the use of a protected distribution system (PDS) where the distribution medium is protected against electronic or physical interception, ensuring confidentiality of data being transmitted.

What Is a Cyber Resilience Assessment?

In simple terms, a cyber resilience assessment is the process of having an in-depth understanding of your overall cybersecurity posture. Cyber resilience assessments help you evaluate your company’s resilience and cybersecurity practices, help identify gaps and vulnerabilities, and improve your cyber resiliency strategy. Cyber resiliency can be self-assessed or can be conducted on-site by cybersecurity professionals.  

Cyber resilience assessments allow you to evaluate your programs, resilience capabilities, and processes and procedures across several verticals including data protection, risk management, incident management, service continuity, training and awareness, and more. Cyber resilience assessments enable you to stay prepared and adopt a robust cyber resiliency plan to minimize risk while ensuring business continuity.

Boost Cyber Resilience With Unitrends

A sound cyber resilience strategy is vital to survive and thrive in this unpredictable, cyberthreat-laden business environment. Unitrends enables you to prepare for, respond to and recover from unforeseen disruptive events seamlessly. Unitrends helps bolster your cyber resiliency strategy through:

Data Loss Prevention: The Unitrends Unified BCDR platform is augmented with AI-based features designed to reduce the frequency and severity of security-related incidents. Some of these features include:

  • AI-Based Ransomware Detection: Unitrends physical and virtual appliances are equipped with a predictive analytics engine, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze every backup. The engine establishes baseline patterns and uses a probabilistic methodology to identify anomalies that symptomatically match the behavior a system would present if infected with ransomware.
  • Anti-Phishing Defense: Automating phishing defense as part of your security stack enables you to immediately defend employees from email-based cyberattacks. Three layers of protection, including AI-enhanced trusted relationship profiles, visual banner cues with actionable icons and autonomous email quarantining, empower your IT with insights into the threats targeting your organization, enable you to take action on suspicious emails and gain a more complete picture of your organization’s security posture.
  • Dark Web Monitoring: Integrated with our Spanning Backup for Microsoft 365 by utilizing a combination of human and artificial intelligence, our solution analyzes more than 600,000 distinct botnets, criminal chat rooms, messages boards and other black market sites. It alerts your IT to compromised credentials and potential Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks, enabling them to take action before a breach or attack occurs.

Data Protection and Recovery:

  • Support for more than 250 versions of operating systems, applications and hypervisors.
  • Recovery options ranging from granular file recovery, instant recovery of physical and virtual servers, to invisible failover into the Unitrends Cloud with our Disaster Recovery as a Service.
  • Automated, application-level recovery testing with Recovery Assurance. Customizable, automated tests validate integrity and recoverability of critical machines and services, and proactively detects recovery issues. Reports are automatically generated, documenting performance against SLA compliance goals and proof of service recoverability.

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