There’s a common misconception about what cyber resilience is that prevents organizations from achieving it. Many security teams reduce resilience to the strict prevention of any change from happening. In fact, this surface-level understanding fails to acknowledge that true cyber resilience must directly respond to a constantly changing threat landscape.

Take a life lesson from this zen proverb, “The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.” Real cyber resilience depends on moving through, not against the threat landscape’s inherent chaos. What happens when organizations fail to embrace that chaos? They render themselves far more vulnerable to attacks.

Cyber resilience is not about stagnancy; it’s about flexibility. It means establishing both proactive and reactive processes that manage the prevention of and response to risks. To achieve cyber resilience, organizations must embrace the natural disorder of the threat landscape and adapt to its changing tides.

What Exactly Is Cyber Resilience?

Cyber resilience is an organization’s ability to withstand, recoup, and evolve from adverse digital conditions — including leaks, breaches, and attacks. At its core, resiliency reflects adaptability to threats.

The essential building blocks of cyber resilience are:

  • Preparation: How proactively equipped is your organization for breaches, leaks, and attacks?
  • Response: How quickly and efficiently can your organization respond to incidents when they occur — and how soon can you identify them?
  • Recovery: How flexible are workflows to potential incidents and how your organization bounces back from attacks.
  • Adaptation: What learnings and insights can your organization incorporate into its security processes to prevent similar incidents?

Here’s where many organizations go wrong with cyber resilience: They believe resiliency is a matter of defining the security tools organizations need to stay protected. In reality, real cyber resilience is about processes not platforms. As a result, before tools and solutions even come into play, organizations must understand the bedrock of resilience: building antifragility.

Real Cyber Resilience Requires Antifragility

What exactly is antifragility in this context? Nassim Taleb, author of “Antifragile,” had this to say about the term: “Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.”

For organizations looking to build their cyber resilience, this means maintaining the status quo might provide some protection, but it will not improve their defenses. Bad actors are agile, innovative, and technologically empowered. They’re constantly on the search for new targets and switching up tactics to game success. Organizations can only see improvement by directly responding to those shifts in the threat landscape.

Why Cyber Resilience Matters

In a digital landscape rife with mounting threats, cyber resilience is a critical component of safeguarding an organization’s financial, strategic, and reputational stability. 

Here are the most significant benefits businesses reap from cyber resiliency.

Preventing Financial Fallout

Data is the most valuable resource in today’s digital economy, and malicious attackers can strike gold when they seize it. As a result, businesses have a lot to lose when bad actors strike successfully. According to IBM’s 2023 Cost of a Data Breach Report, the average cost of incidents has reached an all-time high of $4.45 million. That average increased by a whopping 15.3% in just the past three years.

Cyber resilience mitigates the potential financial impact of cyber attacks. Resilience entails a proactive approach that equips organizations with the right information to stop bad actors before they even strike — saving millions of dollars in damages and ransom in the long run.

Streamlining Operations

When organizations focus on building cyber resilience, they must look closely at their existing security processes. Resilient companies operate like a well-oiled machine so they can react nimbly to threats. To build cyber resilience, security teams should audit their responsibilities and tasks — helping them identify redundancies or inefficiencies. 

Audits can help organizations identify where to implement automation — a key method of streamlining operations. Organizations save on average $1.76 million when they leverage security AI and automation effectively. For example, AI in cybersecurity can make a positive impact in protecting against third-party risk by automating data collection and analysis around vendors’ cyber hygiene.

Instead of wasting time, energy, and resources by collecting data manually, security teams can leverage AI-powered tools to gather and analyze relevant intelligence informing cyber resilience strategies.

How To Build Your Organization’s Cyber Resilience

Achieving cyber resilience is no easy feat. Organizations can enact the following best practices to enable swift, timely adaptation to a changing threat landscape.

Best Practice #1: Ramp Up Risk Intelligence

Robust cyber resilience depends on keeping up with bad actors’ evolving tactics, which means organizations need a strong risk intelligence arm. Effective cyber risk intelligence helps organizations keep tabs on threat actor developments — and then reap from those developments the contextual insights they need to make high-quality decisions.

By ramping up risk intelligence, security teams can stay up-to-date and educated on the latest threats populating the landscape and identify whether or not they’re relevant to their organization. Additionally, without risk intelligence, organizations leave themselves vulnerable to the worst kind of threats: the ones they don’t even know about.

Best Practice #2: Automate Continuous Monitoring

Cyber ecosystems are growing larger and more complex by the minute, creating an exponentially larger attack surface. Such a rapid expansion is impossible for human eyes and hands to handle alone. That might be why 98% of organizations worldwide have connections to a breached third party.

Not only do security teams have to monitor their organization’s cyber hygiene, they now have to concern themselves with dozens of other entities’ risk profiles. With mountains of risk data to parse through and limited resources, important information is bound to fall through the cracks. 

Organizations can leverage automation to enable continuous monitoring, which combats the challenges of a growing attack surface and gives cyber resilience a significant boost. Automation can handle conducting risk assessments and following risk developments with critical vendors — all at the scale necessary for organizations with an exponentially growing number of touchpoints.

Best Practice #3: Establish Response and Recovery Planning

Attacks, breaches, and leaks are a matter of when, not if. Organizations must prepare response and recovery plans for the incidents that might cause them the most potential damage to mitigate their losses.

To create recovery plans, security teams must first identify where and what type of attacks would damage them most — and then create hypothetical scenarios of those incidents. These scenarios help concretely demonstrate how an incident would financially and operationally affect their organization, which then allows security teams to devise next best steps.

Without a predetermined response and recovery plan, organizations can more easily be blindsided by attacks and left scrambling in the aftermath, ultimately exacerbating financial losses.

Build Cyber Resilience the Right Way Now — Instead of Playing Catch-Up Later

As organizations work to achieve cyber resilience, it’s critical they center adaptability and flexibility in their approach. When organizations view resilience as stagnancy, they accumulate unnecessary risk that renders their organization fragile in a changing threat landscape.

True cyber resilience requires the following:

  • Preparation for potential attacks with automated monitoring and contextualized risk intelligence.
  • Swift and timely response to threats that are relevant to your organization’s unique needs and concerns.
  • Recovery that supports core business processes and helps organizations bounce back quickly.

With those building blocks in play, cyber resilience isn’t reduced to an eye-catching buzzword. It’s transformed into a reality for your organization that empowers security teams and establishes the antifragility you need to stay secure from today’s attacks.

AI and automation are essential to cyber resilience, but how else are they changing the threat landscape?

Read more about the impact of AI on cybersecurity.