Cybersecurity Layers – Part 3

So far in this three-part series of articles focused on a layered approach to cybersecurity we have covered the people, perimeter, network, and endpoints. In the first article of this three-part series, we talked about taking a layered approach to developing and implementing a solid cybersecurity strategy. In the second one, we talked about the two outer layers: people and perimeter.

In this last article of the series, we will focus on the data and what we call the company or more specifically, the resilience of an organization.

Data 

Data is very valuable to organizations and to threat actors. Data security can be defined as the safeguarding of digital information to protect it from unauthorized access, corruption, and theft. The last four layers of cybersecurity that we have talked about have all really been about protecting the organization’s data.  

Part of protecting the data involves recovering the data. In order to recover the data, there needs to be a strong and reliable backup process. Given the importance and value that data has for organizations, backup best practices should be identified and followed.  

Here is a summary of industry best practices to follow when it comes to backing up data. 

  • 3 distinct copies of data 
    Have 3 copies of your data at all times. Your production (in-use) data and 2 additional copies
  • 2 different media 
    The 2 additional copies should be on different media ex: Cloud, external drive, Network Attached Storage (NAS) 
  • 1 Offsite copy 
    The offsite copy can be cloud-based data replication or an external drive that is taken offsite 
  • 1 Offline copy 
    Also referred to as an offline air-gapped or immutable backup. This means that there is no connection between the Offline backup and the network 
  • 0 no errors after backup recoverability verification 
    Zero errors after data recovery which entails the ability to restore files and folders correctly. 

In the IT world the above backup process is referred to as the 3-2-1-1-0 backup rule. 

It should also be noted that not all data is created equal. It is a good idea to analyze the data you have to determine what type of data (confidential or personal identifiable information), retention timeframes for the data, where it is stored, who has access and so forth to determine what the best backup strategy is for each type of data in the organization.  

Company 

The last layer, as we mentioned earlier, is all about building cyber resiliency. This involves having a plan to enable an organization to recover from a worst-case scenario situation. In other words, it involves developing and implementing an incident response plan.  

The development of a successful plan involves the following aspects: 

Performing a Risk Assessment 

A risk assessment will identify all your assets and analyze the likelihood that they would be compromised. In addition, the risk assessment will also determine the impact of a compromise on these assets. Bear in mind that this level of planning covers not only cyber attacks but also fire, flood, and natural disasters. 

Develop Policy 

Formulate an incident response policy that establishes the authorities, roles, and responsibilities for the incident response activities, procedures, and processes. 

Response Team 

Assemble a team that will be responsible to assess, document, respond to an incident, restore systems, recover data, and reduce the risks of the incident happening again. 

The team should include employees with various qualifications and needs to have access to support from other business segments to ensure maximum collaboration and coordination. 

Some of the roles that need to be specified are: 

  • Incident manager 
  • Technical lead 
  • HR lead  
  • Communications expert or advisor 
  • Documenter 
  • Data analyst

Build a Communications Plan 

Communications will be critical to the success of the response to an incident. It is important to ensure it is created in advance and contains all the details required for internal (such as employees) and external (such as clients) communications. The communications plan should include details on how, when and with whom the team communicates with. 

Employee Education 

The incident response plan should be communicated to all employees to avoid any missteps, miscommunications, or misunderstandings. In addition, the plan should be re-visited on a regular basis to ensure it is still relevant to the current state of your organization. Particular attention should be considered when an employee leaves the business, making sure that a replacement is not only named but trained on their responsibilities. The plan should also be recommunicated to employees regularly to ensure everyone is up to date on the current incident response activities, processes, and procedures. 

To summarize, the goal of this three-part series of articles was to provide an overview of the different cybersecurity layers and the different aspects of each layer. We hope you have gained value from the series. 

One final note, remember that cybersecurity is a journey. As the workplace, the technology and threat actors change, cybersecurity and the tools and processes must also evolve. A program that might have been “State of the Art” when implemented, can soon become “State of the Arc” if not reviewed on a regular basis. 

The requirements and needs of every organization are different. Engaging with MicroAge can help you determine what the right solutions for your business are. We would be happy to have a conversation with you about your cybersecurity strategy. Contact us today. 

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