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Blog — Jan 12, 2023

How to Increase Cyber Resilience at Your Organization

10 minutes read
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As the attack surface continues to grow across on-premises, cloud, or hybrid environments, so does cyber risk. Unfortunately, many businesses are not only ill-equipped to secure their corporate environment, but security leaders also don’t have the resources or cybersecurity budgets to maintain deep visibility across their environment – and threat actors are taking note.

While most successful cyberattacks result in ransomware attack deployment, data compromise or exfiltration, and disruption of business operations, cyber threat actors are evolving their tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) to gain Initial Access into your networks. Adversaries are using email thread hijacking techniques to conduct phishing and business email compromise (BEC) attacks and SEO poisoning techniques for drive-by social engineering cyberattacks to lure victims into executing malicious code.

Moreover, eSentire’s Threat Response Unit (TRU) has also observed the rise of Initial Access brokers – specialized cybercriminal groups that specifically develop malware designed to gain Initial Access into your environment and providing that access as a service to other cybercriminals.

As a cybersecurity leader, it’s more important than ever to ensure your organization has a strong cyber resilience strategy as a foundation for your cybersecurity program so you can defend your organization against the most critical cyber threats and reduce your overall cyber risk.

What is Cyber Resilience?

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), cyber resilience is your “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”.

Therefore, your cyber resilience strategy should account for the full spectrum of your cybersecurity posture, not just the preventative measures to have in place. Your business must be able to:

How is Cyber Resilience Different From Cyber Risk?

While some business leaders may use cyber resilience and cyber risk management interchangeably, it’s important to understand that cyber risk and cyber resilience are two completely different – but equally necessary – efforts.

PwC defines cyber risk as “any risk associated with financial loss, disruption or damage to the reputation of an organization from failure, unauthorized or erroneous use of its information systems”. In other words, your cyber risks are any practices, policies, users, and even technologies that expose your business to cyber threats, which will inevitably result in financial loss and operational disruption. Additionally, you can quantify your cyber risks with your business leaders by calculating their risk exposure and potential financial impact in dollars and cents to determine how to adjust your cybersecurity posture by adopting a risk-based approach to cybersecurity.

Unlike cyber resilience, cyber risk doesn’t account for your ability to be prepared for a cyberattack but rather focuses on how business leaves itself open to a cyber threat. While there may be some overlap between how you perceive cyber risk and cyber resilience, your cyber resilience strategy will inform how your team will ultimately manage, mitigate, and reduce your overall cyber risk.

Why is Cyber Resilience Important?

Whether it’s through the use of the Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) or Malware-as-a-Service (MaaS) service models, or by adopting role differentiation to launch highly targeted cyberattacks, cybercriminals are continuing to outpace the current cybersecurity tools and technologies available.

Moreover, while CISOs have historically taken the blame and suffered consequences after a crippling cyberattack, it’s likely that CEOs will begin to feel the consequences as well. Gartner has predicted that 75% of CEOs will be personally liable for cyber-physical security incidents by 2024.

In addition, the threat of downtime is real for every organization. Depending on your organization’s size and specific industry, operational downtime can cost you nearly $225K USD per day alone. Additional costs include potential legal and regulatory penalties, financial penalties resulting from breach of contract terms, and loss of brand reputation and consumer trust.

By rooting your cybersecurity program decisions in a strong cyber resilience foundation, you’ll be far better equipped to defend against today’s toughest cyberattacks.

What are the Challenges to Achieving Cyber Resilience?

Achieving cyber resilience isn’t as simple as checking off a to-do list. Since it informs your cybersecurity posture and drives organizational change, it can be challenging for you to get support from not only your senior leadership, but your inter-departmental peers as well. As you begin, and develop, your cyber resilience journey, some challenges you might experience are:

Recommendations to Increase Your Cyber Resilience

Increasing Cyber Resilience Against Phishing Scams and Business Email Compromise Attacks

Phishing and business email compromise (BEC) attacks continue to be one of the most common ways for cybercriminals to gain access into your IT environment. In our Disrupting Initial Access threat intelligence report, TRU noted that in 2020, email accounted for 66% of all incidents we saw in customer environments and though its use decreased in 2021, we saw a resurgence of email-based malicious code (“malcode”) in 2022. To address this, we recommend:

Increasing Cyber Resilience Against Social Engineering Tactics

In recent years, adversaries have significantly increased their use of drive-by social engineering cyberattacks to lure victims into downloading malicious files and executing malcode. In fact, TRU observed that the use of drive-by social engineering cyberattacks increased from 7% in 2020 to 34% in 2021, and continued to be the second most observed threat vector in 2022.

In the past year, TRU has reported malware threats such as Socgholish, Gootkit Loader, and SolarMarker utilize drive-by attacks by taking advantage of cloud services and hosting fake website landing pages and using SEO poisoning to increase their organic search ranking results to evade email filtering controls.

In addition to leverage a PSAT program to increase your cyber resilience against these threats, we also recommend testing your employees with social engineering tests that mimic real-world tactics and techniques. In addition, your team should also communicate the test results with your employees, senior leadership, and board members alongside tactical insights on how to improve.

Increasing Cyber Resilience Against Cloud-Based Cyber Threats

The rise of cloud adoption has also driven the rise of cloud-based cyber threats such as misconfigurations, security policy violations, resource hijacking, and more. Unfortunately, despite being able to secure their on-premises environment, many organizations are lagging in their cloud security strategy. Therefore, we recommend:

Increasing Cyber Resilience Against Ransomware Attacks and Zero-Day Threats

As ransomware attacks become less opportunistic and more highly targeted, it’s critical to have the right expertise and resources to prevent your business from disruption. Therefore, we recommend:

Given the challenges that every security leader is up against amidst the ongoing geopolitical tensions and a burgeoning recession, it’s more important than ever to ensure your organization is as prepared as possible to anticipate, withstand, and recover from a cyberattack. An effective cyber resilience strategy will undoubtedly help you make the most of your limited security resources and IT spend in the next year without leaving your organization exposed to cyber threats.

Learn how eSentire can help you build a more responsive security operation that aligns your business objectives with your unique risk exposure. Connect with an eSentire cybersecurity expert today.

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eSentire, Inc., the Authority in Managed Detection and Response (MDR), protects the critical data and applications of 2000+ organizations in 80+ countries, across 35 industries from known and unknown cyber threats by providing Exposure Management, Managed Detection and Response and Incident Response services designed to build an organization’s cyber resilience & prevent business disruption. Founded in 2001, eSentire protects the world’s most targeted organizations with 65% of its global base recognized as critical infrastructure, vital to economic health and stability. By combining open XDR platform technology, 24/7 threat hunting, and proven security operations leadership, eSentire's award-winning MDR services and team of experts help organizations anticipate, withstand and recover from cyberattacks. For more information, visit: www.esentire.com and follow @eSentire.