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Navigating the inevitable risk of cyber threats

The unfortunate truth is that cyber threats are seeping into almost every aspect of the online world.

As cyber criminals become more and more sophisticated and are able to infiltrate an increasing number of online domains, the question arises, is anyone safe online anymore?

The more we rely on digital channels to manage our lives, whether it’s our personal banking, travel and shopping, or in our professional lives dealing with large amounts of data and other confidential information, the more at risk we become to falling victim to a cyber-attack. As these threats escalate, the need for effective cyber security remains vital.

Many global businesses have already made the headlines for becoming the most recent targets of large-scale, organised cyber criminals. For many leaders, this has been the wake-up call needed to start prioritising their cyber-security and prepare for, what seems to be, an inevitable cyber-attack.

So, if you’re a leader thinking about how to navigate your way out of a quagmire of cyber-threats, what are the key steps to take?

There’s no time like the present – Start planning now

When a cyber related incident occurs, the speed and agility of how your business responds could be the difference between a slight inconvenience, and complete disaster.

In order to react in a quick and responsive manner, a clear plan must be established which encompasses all the necessary steps and countermeasures your organisation plans to take against any form of cyber threat.

When incident response plans are implemented into the day-to-day activity of your organisation, damage can be drastically reduced, and the business has a better chance of getting back on track with minimal disruption.

Ensure team alignment through collective approaches

When it comes down to it, the value of a plan is nothing compared to the experience of working together towards designing that plan. A plan can only be successful, if all parties involved are aligned with their approach when it comes to implementing it and because the criminals won’t work to your schedule, the relationships you develop during planning are paramount for adaptability.

A common misconception is that when a cyber-attack occurs, responsibility sits within the IT team to solve the problem. It is true that they play a key role, but senior leaders must take the burden of communications from them to keep the rest of the business and different interested parties informed.

Ultimately, it’s up to senior leadership teams to ensure that the objectives of an agreed response plan are followed – it is likely that the details of its execution will evolve with the response.

Supporting the wellbeing of those involved in responding to cyber-attacks must not be underestimated.

The orchestration of a united front can also be an effective strategy for defending against future cyber threats. Collective efforts to mitigate cyber risk can help to reduce the impact of an attack, and in some cases, prevent it all together. 

Building cyber resilience

Evolving sustainable cyber resilience is an ongoing challenge for many businesses as data generation continues to rapidly increase, supply chains grow and remote access to networks becomes more common, and in some cases the default.

Cyber security training for everyone associated with the running of your organisation is an important part of building cyber resilience until the balance of people and technology shifts to something better adapted to the contemporary cyber threat landscape.

Raising awareness of the risks, signs, and actions that can jeopardise the security and confidentiality of sensitive information is important, and a good way to do this is to offer colleagues an emotional inoculation to enable them to cope with the inevitable attack.

“There are only two types of companies: Those that know they’ve been compromised, and those that don’t know.” Dmitri Alperovitch, McAfee.

Carrying out this type of training as a matter of routine – with refreshers at times of heightened threat – is an essential way to ensure that positive cyber security habits are embedded into the culture of your business.

The importance of recovery

If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of falling victim to a cyber-attack, it’s important to have a coping strategy for recovery.

Key objectives will naturally focus on recovery including restoring business systems and data, maintaining a strong information infrastructure, and returning operations to working order as swiftly and effectively as possible.

Enacting a cyber ‘disaster’ scenario is adopted through AMBS’s four-day professional development course, Navigating Cyber Risk, delivered by Professor of Cyber Security, Danny Dresner FCIIS.

If you’re looking to understand how to prioritise a resilience and effective cyber security strategy which allows you to make informed decisions when faced with adversity, book your place on our upcoming course.  

Blog posts give the views of the author, and are not necessarily those of Alliance Manchester Business School and The University of Manchester.

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