Chicken or egg: Cyber resistance vs cyber resilience

In a digital world where data is the new ‘everything’, it’s unsurprising that it has become a prime target for criminals. Data is the modern-day equivalent of a stash of gold bullion – and it can be stolen, ransomed, and sold for profit with less effort and risk than a bank heist.

The unrelenting waves of global cyberattacks mean that the cost of business survival is escalating – with the cost of cyberattacks doubling between 2022 and 2023. To combat this, Infosecurity Magazine reports that 69% of IT leaders saw or expected cybersecurity budget increases of between 10 and 100% in 2024.

The cost of crime

At the pointy end of the problem, organisations face damaged or destroyed data, plundered bank accounts, financial fraud, lost productivity, purloined intellectual property, the theft of personal and financial data, and more.

The blunt end is no less damaging. There’s the cost of recovering data, rebuilding your reputation, and getting your business back to a state of BAU as soon as possible, as well as the hefty price tag that comes with forensic investigation, restoring and deleting hacked data and systems, and even prosecution

Generative AI to the cyber-rescue?

Many see the rise of generative AI and expansion into hybrid and multi-cloud environments as the means to alleviate the ongoing attacks. But, of course, the democratisation of generative AI (in other words, goodies and baddies have equal access to its powers) means that potential risks are also heightened.

Despite this, it’s hard to overcome the optimism that generative AI will be a cyber-saviour. According to Dell Technologies 2024 Global Data Protection Index (APJ Cyber Resiliency Multicloud Edition), 46% of responders believe that generative AI can initially provide an advantage to their cyber security posture, and 42% are investing accordingly.  

But here’s the rub: 85% agree that generative AI will create large volumes of new data that will need to be protected and secured. So generative AI will, by default, (A) potentially offer better protection and (B) increase the available attack space due to data sprawl and unstructured data.

Resistance vs resilience

Of the APJ organisations (excluding China) that Dell surveyed, 57% say they’ve experienced a cyberattack or cyber-related incident in the last 12 months.

And a good 76% have expressed concern that their current data protection measures are unable to cope with malware and ransomware threats. 66% say they’re not even confident that they can recover all their business-critical data in the event of a destructive cyber-attack.

So why, if 66% of organisations doubt their ability to recover their data, are 54% investing more in cyber prevention than recovery?

Can you separate the cyber chicken from the egg?

In a recent cybersecurity stats round-up, Forbes Advisor reported that in 2023, there were 2,365 cyberattacks impacting 343 million victims.

Given the inevitability of cyberattack, it’s critical that your methods of resistance are robust, and if disaster strikes, your ability to recover is infallible.

Look at it this way: While a cruise liner obviously must have radar to detect and try and avoid approaching icebergs, angry orcas, and other collision-prone objects, it’s just as important that they have lifeboats, lifeboat drills, lifejackets, and locator devices available to minimise loss of life and keep everyone afloat.  

In the words of Harvard Business Review: “Simply being security-conscious is no longer enough, nor is having a prevention-only strategy. Companies must become cyber-resilient—capable of surviving attacks, maintaining operations, and embracing new technologies in the face of evolving threats.”

So, how do you bolster your cyber resilience?

According to Dell, 50% of the organisations they surveyed have brought in outside support (including cyber recovery services) to enhance cyber resilience.

While AI will undoubtedly introduce some initial advantages, as suggested earlier, those could be quickly offset as cybercriminals leverage the very same tools. Not only are traditional system and software vulnerabilities under attack, but due to the sprawl of AI-generated data, there are more and newer opportunities.

So – can we rely on generative AI to save the day? Probably not – or not yet anyway. What about outside help? Yes, most definitely. However, cyber resilience begins at home, with a top-down strategy based on some inarguable facts:  

  1. Attacks are inevitable. Once you accept that this is the new reality of the digital age, the logical next step is to develop a clear, holistic strategy focusing on business continuity and crisis planning.
  2. People are the first and best line of defence. Ensure your entire organisation takes responsibility and is cyber-aware – to the extent that your procedures are included in your company policies and onboarding processes.  This should include delivering ongoing cyber awareness training and introducing regular drills.
  3. When disaster strikes, survival is in your hands. Establish clear cybersecurity governance that aligns with your business objectives. Everyone in the organisation should know what they need to do to protect the organisation, its data, and its clients and ensure continuity of operations.  
  4. No one is trustworthy. Assume everything around your network is a potential threat. Adopt a zero-trust mindset that requires continual verification and rigidly controls access based on preset policies.  
  5. What you don’t know can hurt you. The ability to detect and prevent threats is critical. Invest in Security as a Service to provide visibility into your data, regardless of where it’s located, so that you can see and address your weaknesses.
  6. Disaster will strike. We live in unexpected times, where cybercrime and unprecedented natural disasters conspire to stop us in our tracks. With cloud-basedDisaster Recovery as a Service, the risk of permanently losing data and disrupting business as usual is significantly reduced.

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