Defining Cyber Immunity
Written by Arti Raman, CEO and Founder of Titaniam.
Biologically, a virus is something that inserts itself into the body of a living thing and replicates itself to infect its host. Technology can also be exposed to viruses – codes that replicate themselves with the ultimate goal to destroy data, hold it for ransom, or breach security.
There are more than 2,200 cyberattacks worldwide every day, amounting to one every 39 seconds. For businesses, infrastructure organizations, financial institutions and more, data is a critical need. These institutions must have a worst-case scenario plan since, despite preventative measures in place, cyberattacks do not discriminate against the industry. There is no 100% guarantee when it comes to cybersecurity. When it comes to protecting sensitive data, aim for immunity.
A World of Consequences
In the COVID-19 pandemic, much of the world was initially in quarantine to avoid spreading the virus. Without pre-exposure or protection, everyone rightfully feared the consequences of contracting the virus. Since most of the world had not encountered the virus, the infected immune systems would take more effort to learn how to fight it. The best thing to slow the spread of the disease was to completely shut down as there were no defenses.
In the event of a ransomware attack, a company with no protection in place will find itself facing many negative consequences. Paying the ransom means using up time and resources to retrieve critical data from attackers, but should an organization refuse to pay or acknowledge the fee, sensitive data could be leaked. This means an organization’s reputation and lawsuits are at risk.
However, paying the ransom does not guarantee the systems will be released by the cybercriminals, or mean they won’t leak the collected data. With these uncertain risks, it is essential to have a preventative plan to help organizations avoid ever being in a place where they have to make that choice.
Combatting Future Consequences
A solution to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic was to create a vaccine. Then, when people were exposed to the virus, the antibodies from the shots were recognized by their immune systems. Pre-exposing people to the virus in tolerable doses was a plan that worked to fight the virus. As more people were given full doses of the vaccine, hospitalization rates drastically declined. While there was never guaranteed protection once a person got a shot, the numbers proved to be in favor of those who got vaccinated and boosted.
Immunity in Cybersecurity
The vaccine concept is akin to having a cybersecurity solution in place that promotes immunity to sensitive organizational data. To exist in the technological world with sensitive data means the business is at risk. Motivated cybercriminals continue to find vulnerabilities in every system and hack away, meaning there’s no guarantee an organization or company will never contract a virus.
Despite the viruses won’t completely go away, a group can acknowledge they are at risk and make a plan to boost their immunity. By raising their defenses against the potential implications of the viruses, the system is at better odds for when, not if, a ransomware attack occurs. This is similar to how those with the vaccine in their bodies generally fared better in the subsequent waves of the pandemic.
The best way for organizations to raise their defenses against the impacts of cyberattacks, including ransomware, is to examine what data is at risk and then make sure that it has two types of immunity controls: First, if attackers get to the data, it should be unusable. Second, if attackers encrypt or delete the data, it should be recoverable from an untampered backup. The first can be ensured by utilizing data-in-use encryption (aka encryption-in-use). This would ensure that even if attackers used legitimate credentials to get to the data, they can not use it to extort the victim. The second can be ensured using backup and recovery platforms. If both of these are assured, then the organization can truly become immune to attacks and will no longer be at the mercy of attackers.
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