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Cyber preparedness starts with your crisis plan

Sean Duca, VP and Regional Chief Security Officer, APAC, Palo Alto Networks
Sean Duca, VP and Regional Chief Security Officer, APAC, Palo Alto Networks

Sean Duca, VP and Regional Chief Security Officer, APAC, Palo Alto Networks

Today, cyberthreats pose a real challenge to businesses. The evolving nature of cyberthreats, from malware to cryptomining, makes it difficult for businesses to keep up as they continually develop to become more sophisticated. However, effective cyber preparedness does not mean an overreliance on technology. In a Palo Alto Networks survey of businesses across the Asia-Pacific region, almost half of employees surveyed were found lacking in awareness about cybersecurity and its importance (47 percent) – the biggest cybersecurity challenge facing organisations. Without effective education, planning and operational understanding in place—businesses in Asia-Pacific are left increasingly vulnerable.

Rather than a technology issue, such risks should be treated as a business issue. While most companies already have a strategy in place to handle different types of crises, including managing the communications process with stakeholders, cybersecurity is an area where most do not have solid plans for worst-case scenarios. We know very well by now that no one is immune to threat actors looking to steal data or penetrate and disrupt critical systems through various entry points, whether it is the network, applications, the cloud, or even end-point devices.

As companies are accountable to their stakeholders, cybersecurity calls for guiding principles which are necessary in determining how stakeholders will be informed about a breach, and how they will be provided with relevant information as more data is analysed to paint the full picture. Furthermore, cyber crises are also uniquely challenging - many cybersecurity breaches are discovered by a third party and/or by being leaked to the media, with company executives waking up to the news instead of being updated in real-time.

While some companies have their own cybersecurity crisis plans, they still need to ask themselves a few questions:

• How well has your plan been tested?

• Has it been workshopped across multiple scenarios?

• Have you run your plan through mock trials?

•W Is the plan even up to date?

Here are some tips to make your crisis planning more dynamic and effective:

1. STAY CURRENT AND RELEVANT BY UPDATING THE PLAN REGULARLY

Include input from key stakeholders and schedule time on the team’s calendars to revisit the plan regularly – on a quarterly basis, if possible.

2. TEST THE CRISIS PLAN

Train all employees, including the board, with mock drills. Inject different scenarios into the basic plan and imagine all the different ways in which a breach could impact the business.

3. UNDERSTAND YOUR BUSINESS, DOWN TO THE DAY-TO-DAY OPERATIONS

Explore all the machinations of the way your business operates day-to-day. Plan for day-to-day operations with a continuity plan that is also tested and rehearsed. Additionally, understand what critical systems your business relies on, how they are interconnected, and what their dependencies are. If your response team is busy turning off exposed systems, your business may no longer be operating.

4. BE VERY SURE OF YOUR CONTINUITY PLAN

If your continuity plan is virtually covered in dust, it may also be filled with dated information about old systems and the contact details of response personnel who have.

Preparation takes time, but it is worth investing the time and effort to build the foundation of the business’ operations in this aspect. As cyberattacks continue to grow in volume and complexity, it is essential to have a robust and tested crisis plan so that your organisation can be well prepared to protect itself in the event of a breach.

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