What Does “Cyber Resilience” Really Mean?

“Cyber resilience” refers to an entity’s ability to continuously deliver the intended outcome despite adverse cyber events. It involves the confluence of cybersecurity (proactive protection against cyber threats) and business continuity planning (reactive response to disruptions), aiming to safeguard the availability, integrity, and confidentiality of digital assets. Essentially, it’s end-to-end network security to ensure continued operations.

For you, the utilities leaders for IT and OT, the importance of cyber resilience cannot be overstated. You truly are de-facto guardians of national security. As your systems become increasingly reliant on digital infrastructures for their operational sustainability, they also become potential targets for cyber-attacks. Legacy systems are no less vulnerable. It’s no secret that a successful attack could disrupt essential services, endanger public safety, and cause significant economic damage. Therefore, a robust cyber resilience strategy is vital to ensure the continuous connectivity of critical services and to maintain the public’s trust.

You, as utilities IT and OT leaders, can adopt several measures to ensure your entity’s cyber resilience:

Set Habits for Implementing Cyber Security Best Practices

Prevent & Protect: Identify System Risks and Vulnerabilities – – Lather, Rinse, Repeat

    • Make regular software updates
    • Set strong password policies and share them with all employees regularly
    • Implement strict access controls (i.e. multi-factor authentication) – – regularly review and revoke unnecessary access privileges
    • Conduct regular risk assessments
    • Run regular penetration testing

You can mitigate risks by regularly identifying vulnerabilities within your digital infrastructure. By uncovering weaknesses before they are exploited, you can take proactive measures to fortify your network defenses.

Detect & Respond: Monitor & Act On Threats

    • Monitor systems, networks, & data continuously
    • Run intrusion detection systems, security information & event management systems, and behavior analytics tools – – identify anomalies and threats

Be Prepared: Develop a Comprehensive Disaster Recovery Plan

    • Detail the steps to be taken to restore normal operations in the event of a cyber attack
      • Communication protocols
      • Containment actions
      • Operations impacts & steps to mitigate operational downtime
    • Identify key personnel and assign specific recovery roles and responsibilities to each employee to minimize downtime and the impact on service delivery – define/describe communication protocols
    • Run recovery rehearsals as emergency training exercises on a regular basis

Lessons Learned: How To Recover

    • Back up critical data & systems – – test the back ups
    • Reconstruct and validate the affected data
    • Check for and clear lingering malware – – ensure data integrity
    • Create a post-incident analysis – – adjust your strategy accordingly

Build a Cyber Resilient Culture

    • Educate staff at all levels about current cyber threats
    • Review all roles & responsibilities for addressing intrusion events
    • Set the tone and example for being a cyber defender

By adopting these measures, you can ensure your cyber resilience during digital transformation, thereby safeguarding your uninterrupted operations for the communities your utility serves.

Engaging every team within your utility will ensure the effectiveness of your cyber resilience strategy. Collaborate with HR, for example, to frame and execute regular training schedules. Legal and Risk Management teams can help to establish and communicate the policies and procedures. Plant Operators can weave policy and training reminders into their regular safety meetings/calls.

While establishing and refreshing your cyber resilience strategy, deploy solutions for IT and OT security that are protocol agnostic, easy to install, and immediately actionable. You don’t need to rip & replace, regardless of the legacy system(s) on which you are operating. The best up-front solutions that prevent incidents by hiding segmented networks will save you time and hits to your already limited budget, without financial and labor-intensive full OS replacements. Avoid the backlash from yet another rate hike to cover expensive cyber security solutions suites that may contain resources you don’t need.

Blue Ridge Networks, Inc. and our partners can provide your utility with customized solutions sets tailored to your needs in alignment with your cyber resilience strategy.

LinkGuard™ aligns well with cyber resilience best practices. It provides a secure overlay network that isolates and protects critical infrastructure, rendering software updates, strong password policies, and multi-factor authentication even more robust and fortified against cyber threats. It sits on top of your legacy networks, and provides you with peace of mind as you work through your operational development plans.

In terms of risk assessment and penetration testing, LinkGuard offers a zero-trust barrier that restricts unauthorized access and effectively minimizes open attack vectors, making it easier for utilities to identify and manage potential vulnerabilities.

As for disaster recovery plans, LinkGuard’s fail-safe feature ensures that a network breach doesn’t cause a complete shutdown of operations. The solution can isolate threats, thereby preserving the integrity of the system, minimizing downtime, and ensuring the continuity of service delivery.

Finally, the comprehensive visibility provided by LinkGuard simplifies the task of fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness among employees. It offers clear and actionable insights into the network’s security posture, helping staff at all levels understand the potential threats and their roles in defending against them. This simplification, combined with regular training and awareness programs, significantly reduces the risk of human error in cybersecurity management.

All these features make Blue Ridge Networks’ LinkGuard an excellent solution for utilities seeking to bolster their cyber resilience prior to and during digital transformation.

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