I couldn’t help closing out our Mastering Cyber Hygiene series without making at least one reference to a 90’s rap song (I know that isn’t the original spelling but lets keep this G Rated). As we have made our way through the Mastering Cyber Hygiene series, we covered cyber hygiene best practices as presented in the Center of Internet Security’s (CIS) Critical Security Controls, Implementation Group 1 (IG1). We started with a primer on cyber hygiene and its role in protecting businesses (The Essential Role of Cyber Hygiene for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses) and continued through from the beginning phase through implementation of cyber hygiene best practices. While data recovery does not inherently come at the end of a cyber hygiene process, I thought it would be a good place to close out our series with data recovery because it can be a game changer in the face of a cyber incident. Regardless of whether the cyber incident is a cyberattack or natural disaster, an effective data recovery process can be the difference of starting from absolutely nothing, to only losing a days’ worth of work (depending on your recovery point objective (RPO)). As with our other posts, we will begin with an overview of cyber hygiene and CIS Critical Security Controls IG1, delve deeper into what data recovery is and its importance to your business, and close out with the data recovery best practices that coincide with CIS Critical Security Controls IG1.
What is Cyber Hygiene and why is it important (A Recap)?
Cyber hygiene refers to the practices and procedures used to maintain the health and security of digital devices, networks, and systems. It involves taking specific steps to ensure that cybersecurity is maintained by minimizing risk and reducing vulnerabilities. Cyber hygiene involves actions such as updating software and hardware regularly (see Mastering Hygiene: Implementation Best Practices), implementing strong passwords (see Mastering Cyber Hygiene: Tips to Train Everyone in Your Organization), and keeping data backed up (see Mastering Cyber Hygiene: Building Processes to Improve Your Cybersecurity Posture) and of course the remainder of this article). It is critical for individuals and organizations to practice good cyber hygiene to reduce the risk of cyberattacks and data breaches. While cyber hygiene is considered the bare minimum individuals and businesses can do to in terms of cybersecurity, the return on investment in terms of protection is astronomical.
The importance of cyber hygiene cannot be overstated. Cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated and frequent, and the consequences of a cyberattack can be devastating. For individuals, a cyberattack can result in identity theft, financial loss, and damage to personal and professional reputation. For businesses, a cyberattack can result in data loss, financial loss, and reputational damage. Furthermore, small to medium-sized businesses (SMB) are squarely in the cybercriminals’ crosshairs. This deliberate targeting is due to the inherent limitations in SMBs cybersecurity budgets. Cybercriminals know they will have fewer roadblocks to contend with when attacking an SMB vs a larger corporation that may have dedicated budgets and personnel to address cybersecurity. Cyber hygiene cannot replace a full armada of cybersecurity personnel with sophisticated tools and AI assisted analysis, but is an essential step towards preventing cyberattacks and minimizing the impact of an attack should one occur.
Data Recovery Best Practices
Data recovery is a critical component of any cybersecurity program. In the event of a cyberattack or system failure, data recovery can be used to restore lost data and systems. This is the reason data recovery transcends the realm of cybersecurity. Good data recovery processes and implementation is an overall business risk mitigation strategy. A functioning data recovery process will be instrumental in keeping a business firing on all cylinders whether the data loss event is the result of a cyberattack, insider attack, or an act of nature. The Center for Internet Security Implementation Group 1 outlines the best practices for data recovery, which include establishing and maintaining a data backup process (see Mastering Cyber Hygiene: Building Processes to Improve Your Cybersecurity Posture), performing automated backups, protecting recovery data, and establishing and maintaining an isolated instance of data recovery.
Performing Automated Backups
Automated backups are an essential component of data recovery. Backing up data regularly ensures that data can be recovered in the event of a cyberattack or system failure. Automated backups should be performed on a regular basis, and the backup data should be stored in a secure location.
Protecting Recovery Data
Protecting recovery data is critical to ensure that data can be recovered in the event of a cyberattack. Recovery data should be protected using encryption and access controls should be in place to prevent unauthorized access. It is recommended that recovery data be stored separately from the primary data to prevent the loss of both sets of data in the event of a cyberattack or any other incident that may impact the security of your data such as fire.
Establishing and Maintaining an Isolated Instance of Data Recovery
Establishing and maintaining an isolated instance of data recovery is critical to prevent cyber attackers from accessing the backup data. An isolated instance of data recovery should be kept separate from the primary data and the production environment. Access to the isolated instance of data recovery should be restricted to authorized personnel only, and the environment should be regularly tested and updated to ensure that it remains secure.
Test the Backup and Data Restoration Process
The backup process should be tested regularly to ensure that the data can be recovered successfully. Having data backups readily available is only part of the equation. It is imperative that the data can be recovered in a timely manner. Failure to verify the data availability and functional restoration is the same as not having a data recovery process at all.
Cybersecurity is critical to protect personal and business data and to prevent cyberattacks. Good cyber hygiene is an essential component of any cybersecurity program, and data recovery is a critical component of cyber hygiene. This will conclude our series on Mastering Cyber Hygiene. We have tried to keep these articles approachable while still providing actionable information for readers. The Center for Internet Security has many resources available on their site to learn more about CIS Critical Security Controls and Implementation Groups. Additionally, the National Institute of Science and Technology has a wealth of information in their 800 series publications regarding cybersecurity best practices.
If you are unsure about your organization's cybersecurity program, contact the cybersecurity professionals at Quantum Vigilance. We will work with you to understand your cyber risks and tailor a cybersecurity program to meet your unique needs. Our cybersecurity professionals will provide cybersecurity guidance that you and your team members will understand. Contact us to get your cybersecurity journey started.