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5 Steps to Building a Robust Cyber Resilience Framework

By Eyal Katz March 13, 2024

The reality of cybersecurity is simple – breaches will occur – and reactivity will always be the losing strategy. Having a cyber resilience framework shifts the focus from preventing attacks to ensuring readiness, mitigating impact, and driving a swift return to operations. 

With the average data breach costing millions – like it or not – cyber resilience is no longer optional. 

But how do we translate ‘cyber resilience’ into actionable steps? It starts with a framework.

What is a cyber resilience framework?

A cyber resilience framework provides a structured approach for organizations to prepare for, manage, and recover from cyber threats. 

Traditional cybersecurity approaches often focus solely on preventing breaches. In contrast, a resilience framework recognizes that attacks are sometimes inevitable.  It builds on preventative measures with a comprehensive focus on incident response and business continuity planning. 

A solid cyber resilience framework ensures that an organization can minimize the impact of a cyberattack, swiftly return to normal operations, and meet regulatory requirements.

Cyber Resilience Framework

The components of a cyber resilience framework include: Risk prevention, Risk management, and Employee training.

The benefits of a well-structured cyber resilience framework are: Minimized disruptions, Reputation protection, Streamlined compliance, and Competitive advantage through customer trust and confidence

5 Steps to Building a Robust Cyber Resilience Framework

A  tailored cyber resilience framework is your ultimate risk management tool. The following steps will guide you in identifying risks, preventing potential security issues like secrets leakage, how to implement safeguards – and ultimately – lowering your organization’s overall cyber risk profile.

Every organization is different. Having a tailored cyber resilience framework that meets your needs is crucial. Here are the five steps to building one.

Step 1: Start with a risk assessment

A cyber resilience framework shifts your approach from reacting to threats to anticipating them.  This first step lays the foundation for implementing targeted, preemptive security measures within your personalized cyber resilience framework. 

Asset Identification for risk assessment is not just servers and code. Knowing your digital crown jewels means a comprehensive view of:

  • Systems & Infrastructure: Servers, databases, network devices, cloud apps, and all potential entryways.
  • Sensitive Data: Payment details, PII, intellectual property, anything a breach exposes, requiring different protection levels.
  • Access Points: CIAM plays a vital role in mapping who has access and what helps you tighten those digital doors.
  • Third Parties & Vendors: Their access is your risk – supply chain attacks rise, so assess partners’ practices through your lens.
  • Vulnerability Assessment: Go beyond patching! Attackers don’t play fair, so your assessment shouldn’t just check CVE reports.
  • Consider Misconfigurations: Often accidental, they leave holes – secure configs are your proactive patch.
  • Secrets Embedded in Code: Exposed API keys are goldmines. Scan with CI/CD friendly tools (like Spectral) for early remediation.
  • Outdated Systems: Legacy and end-of-life stuff invite easy exploits. Know what MUST survive (often tied to business necessity).

Utilize:

  • Industry-Specific Feeds: Your sector likely has ISACs – use their threat knowledge to target what aims at you.  
  • Security Community: Sandbox testing of exploits, “honeypots”, give early intel to prepare before it hits wide.
  • DSPM Tools: Continuous data posture checks help identify risky assets, outliers in access rules, or sudden suspicious activity – real-time intel on changing risk.

Use frameworks and regulations to help with your risk assessment. Here are two frameworks that can increase your cyber resilience.

  • NIST Cybersecurity Framework: Utilize this structured approach to identifying, assessing, and prioritizing risks to streamline and validate your cyber resilience framework planning.
  • ISO 27001: Implement industry-standard best practices for thorough risk analysis, helping you cover all necessary bases and establish credibility while creating your cyber resilience framework. Need help getting started? Utilize our ISO 27001 self-assessment checklist for step-by-step guidance.
ISO 27001 risk assessment and treatment

Step 2: Implement Security Controls

Your risk assessment exposed potential vulnerabilities across your systems and processes. Now, let’s address those weaknesses proactively.

  • The Danger of Embedded Secrets: Hardcoded credentials, API keys, and other sensitive data scattered within code pose an enormous risk. Attackers actively scan for this low-hanging fruit to exploit. 
  • Shifting Left with Secrets Management: Address this danger early with tools like Spectral. Integrated into your CI/CD workflows, Spectral scans for potentially exposed secrets, empowering developers to fix these issues at the source before they reach production.  This strengthens secure-by-design practices and helps you avoid breaches. 
  • Beyond Secrets:  While vital, security controls extend much further. 

Here are the security controls and tools that you need.

  • Intrusion Prevention/Detection Systems (IPS/IDS):  Intrusion Prevention/Detection Systems (IPS/IDS), a key component of your Threat Detection and Response (TDR) strategy, use tools to monitor network traffic actively and continuously. IPS/IDS looks for signs of attacks, blocks harmful activity, and raises alerts to prompt rapid response.
  • Secure Configurations: Often overlooked, hardening of software and hardware through rigorous security settings reduces your attack surface against misconfigurations. Think of this as preemptively shutting doors attackers seek to pry open.
  • Data Loss Prevention and Data Security Posture Management (DLP & DSPM): Utilize solutions that actively monitor, detect, and potentially block unauthorized data movement within and outside your perimeter. DLP mitigates both malicious exfiltration and costly accidental data leaks.
  • Endpoint Protection: Deploy advanced solutions at the endpoint level (laptops, servers, etc.) capable of real-time malware detection, behavior analysis, and response. These tools are vital as threat actors target individual devices more frequently.

A comprehensive risk assessment goes beyond identifying assets and vulnerabilities.  To further understand your defenses through the attacker’s eyes, integrate the MITRE ATT&CK framework into your process.  Mapping your security controls against this structured catalog of known adversary tactics and techniques offers a crucial perspective on your cyber resilience framework’s effectiveness.  

Many industries have specific security benchmarks or standards (e.g., PCI DSS for payment data). Use them as guidance on critical controls to ensure your cyber resilience framework demonstrates compliance for business continuity.

PCI compliance matters

Step 3: Transform Detection into Response

Alerts without action are meaningless. This step will help you find the processes that aid your response when you see something suspicious. Building actionable plans around your monitoring tools strengthens your framework.

Here are the tools you can use for visibility and action.

  • SOAR (Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response): Consider these sophisticated tools and platforms to automate tasks, accelerate response efforts, and coordinate activities across diverse security solutions within your toolkit.
  • Threat Hunting: Embrace a proactive approach to uncovering hidden attackers within your environment. Use skilled analysts, investigative tools, and threat intelligence to go beyond just responding to alarms.
  • Tabletop Exercises & Drills: Conduct regular “fire drills” simulating attacks to test your incident response plans under pressure. Identify gaps and strengthen your response muscle memory for optimal readiness.

Prevent risks like secrets leakage from ever emerging with seamless CI/CD security checks. With tools like Spectral, developers can scan without leaving their workflows, enabling early remediation and stronger secure-by-design practices.

From monitoring to mitigation, you should also keep these in mind:

  • Threat response playbooks
  • Alert prioritization
  • Incident response teams
  • Log data management

Robust incident response playbooks are far more than generic plans. Craft detailed step-by-step guides outlining precise actions for each incident stage: containment, eradication, recovery, and analysis.  Having this pre-planned approach minimizes frantic decision-making when seconds count. 

Since not all threats are equal,  develop clear response hierarchies to streamline vital triage and focus efforts on the most critical alerts. Define clear roles, responsibilities, and communication channels upfront, designating who handles breach response. This ensures the right people are swiftly engaged, empowering rapid, orchestrated reactions when needed. 

Finally, prioritize your security logging practices: 

  • Robust log collection: Implement thorough system and network event logging. 
  • Secure retention: Ensure collected data is held securely for investigation. 
  • Regular reviews: Establish frequent and proactive log analysis practices. 
  • Correlation: Utilize tools to draw connections across multiple log sources. 

Step 4: Minimize Disruption, Maximize Recovery

In the inevitable event of a breach, your response speed and a structured process dictate the outcome. A cyber resilience framework focuses on bouncing back as swiftly as possible to minimize downtime, financial loss, and disruption to core operations.

Here’s how to develop a comprehensive response plan for your cyber resilience framework.

  • Incident Categorization. Define classifications of security incidents that warrant differing response plans and actions (e.g., malware vs. data exfiltration). This focus enables tailored responses during a chaotic attack.
  • Communication Matrix. Prepare a detailed contact list of key personnel, external service providers, and other stakeholders to notify during an incident. Consider including legal counsel or public relations for a more robust plan.
  • Evidence Preservation. Understand techniques for securely capturing forensic data under both chain-of-custody and compliance regulations. Evidence preservation is vital for potential legal action or in-depth post-incident improvement.
  • Recovery Prioritization. Pre-identify essential systems and business operations to prioritize during restoration efforts. This streamlines processes and reduces the impact on core productivity and customer interactions.

Step 5: Forge your Human Firewall with Cybersecurity Training and Awareness

Your employees often represent either a strong defense or a significant vulnerability. They are your human firewall. This step is about turning your entire workforce into active participants in cyber resilience.

Here are the top awareness methods you can incorporate into your resilience framework.

What is a human firewall

Expose staff to realistic simulations of common attacks like phishing emails and spear-phishing. Training staff to identify these schemes turns users from victims into early warning systems.

Educate on robust password creation and multi-factor authentication. Train teams against social engineering tactics, ensuring staff are less likely to be deceived into giving up their credentials.

Promote secure data handling practices, secure remote working habits, and emphasize safe web browsing, including how to spot suspicious sites or downloads.

Establish straightforward, non-punitive ways for employees to report potential incidents or suspicious activity. Encourage a “see something, say something” culture to catch risks early.

Additional important considerations: 

  • Leadership Buy-In
  • Third-Party/Vendor Training

A culture of security starts at the top. Ensure executives communicate its importance and actively reinforce best practices to all teams.

Also, include partners or suppliers with access to your systems. Educate and monitor their security practices as part of your cyber resilience framework.

Think of Cyber Resilience as Your Organization’s Immune System

A comprehensive cyber resilience framework pays dividends.  Beyond protecting critical data and systems, it minimizes disruptions, safeguards reputation, and streamlines regulatory compliance. It also transforms your security posture into a strategic asset,  fostering adaptability and minimizing the impact of ever-evolving threats.

Hardcoded credentials, API keys, and other secrets embedded in code provide pathways for determined attackers. Spectral can help you tackle this head-on. Our AI-driven platform offers deep visibility into these potential risk areas, empowering you to take preventive actions and neutralize leaks before they become damaging breaches.

Ready to build resilience that pays dividends? Sign up today with SpectralOps and take the first step toward transforming your organization’s cyber resilience with powerful intelligence and actionable insights.

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