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Building a highly cyber resilient organization

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By Murtaza Bhatia Sales Director, Cyber-security, NTT Ltd in India

India’s digital economy is rapidly growing and is becoming an increasingly significant contributor to the country’s overall economic growth. As digital initiatives have increased at a fast pace, the risks too have increased exponentially. For example, a joint report by NTT and research firm, Frost & Sullivan, ‘Preparing a Cyber Resilient Enterprise with Advanced Threat Detection’ stated that 46% of the Indian enterprises reported social engineering attacks in the last two years.

The rise of cyber threats in India has led to an increased need for organizations to prioritise cyber resilience. Cyber resilience refers to an organization’s ability to withstand, adapt to, and recover from cyber attacks. Building a highly cyber resilient organization requires a holistic approach that involves people, processes, and technology.

Key steps for building a highly cyber resilient organization

Conduct a Risk Assessment

The first step in building a highly cyber resilient organization is to conduct a risk assessment. A risk assessment helps identify potential cyber threats, vulnerabilities, and impacts. This assessment helps organizations identify the most significant cyber risks they face and prioritise them for mitigation.

Develop a Cybersecurity Strategy

Once the risk assessment is complete, the organization must develop a cybersecurity strategy that aligns with its overall business objectives. This strategy should be designed to address the identified cyber risks and vulnerabilities. It should include a set of policies, procedures, and controls that will help the organization mitigate risks and protect its assets from cyber threats.

Adopt a Security by Design approach

To truly fortify an enterprise’s security posture, there is a critical need to adopt a strategic approach known as “Security by Design”. Unlike traditional security methods that are implemented as an afterthought, this approach allows organizations to formalise their infrastructure design and automate security controls throughout every aspect of their IT infrastructure and organization processes. By developing a security architecture that prioritises detection and response to threats, rather than just trying to prevent them, enterprises can stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the growing number of unknown, multi-dimensional, multi-faceted, and non-signature-based attacks

Update Software regularly

Ideally, create a patch management process for internal enterprise servers and endpoints, and check regularly for unused dependencies, previously vulnerable or unmaintained dependencies and unnecessary files, features or software components. This must be combined by regularly scanning external facing applications for vulnerabilities and instituting a patching schedule, as well as being ready to rapidly patch critical vulnerabilities

Train Employees on Cybersecurity

Employees are often the weakest link in an organization’s cybersecurity defences. Human error, such as clicking on a phishing email or using weak passwords, can lead to cyber can battacks. Users must be trained on social engineering techniques and how to spot phishing emails and malware activity.

Implement Security Controls

Implementing security controls is a critical step in building a highly cyber resilient organization. Security controls help protect the organization’s assets from cyber threats. These controls can include firewalls, intrusion detection systems, anti-virus software, and encryption technologies. Network intrusion/detection systems can be used to prevent attacks from conducting scans for remote services, while anti-malware protection solutions can be used to to stop infected files from executing malicious payloads. Enterprises can also employ network segmentation to isolate critical systems, functions, and resources and use network appliances to filter ingress or egress traffic and perform protocol based filtering.

Similarly, the introduction of User Entity and Behavior Analytics (UEBA) and Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) products can be used to detect suspicious behaviour. Public-Facing Applications can be protected using web application controls to help limit exposure of applications and in preventing attackers from reaching the applications. Institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have issued guidelines on cybersecurity for banks and other financial institutions. These guidelines include specific requirements for implementing security controls, such as two-factor authentication and encryption of sensitive data.

Conduct Regular Audits and Testing

Regular audits and testing are essential to ensure that the organization’s cybersecurity controls are effective. Audits and testing can identify weaknesses in the organization’s defences and provide insight into how to improve them. It is recommended that organizations conduct regular penetration testing to identify vulnerabilities and test their incident response plans.

Develop an Incident Response Plan

Despite an organization’s best efforts to prevent cyber attacks, they can still occur. Therefore, it is crucial to have an incident response plan in place. An incident response plan outlines the steps an organization should take in the event of a cyber attack. It should include procedures for containing the attack, assessing the damage, and restoring normal operations.

Engage in Continuous Improvement

Building a highly cyber resilient organization is not a one-time event. Cyber threats are constantly evolving, and organizations must continuously improve their cybersecurity posture to stay ahead of the threats. This requires a commitment to ongoing training, monitoring, and improvement.

As cyber threats continue to evolve in India, building a highly cyber-resilient organization is critical. By taking proactive measures to assess risk, implementing strong access controls, training employees, implementing a robust incident response plan, and regularly testing and updating security measures, Indian organizations can protect against evolving cyber threats and build a cyber-resilient organization.

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