With the weather slowly getting warmer and the days longer, let’s get outside and exercise our cybersecurity. Just as we need exercise, so do our cybersecurity practices. In particular, we should regularly be exercising our cybersecurity incident response plans with tabletop exercises. For those unfamiliar, an incident response tabletop exercise is a simulated cyberattack and your response (the actions you take) to mitigate it. For more information on tabletop exercises, check out Ready.gov for more information.

First things first

In order to successfully exercise, you need the right tools and plans in place, a strategy. Just like you wouldn’t grab a pair of summer sandals and go for a 3 mile run, especially right after eating half a pizza, you wouldn’t just do a tabletop exercise without having a plan either. Instead of a fitness plan, this is your incident response plan. According to the Ponemon Institute, a whopping 77% of organizations report not having a plan in place. Chances are, your small business doesn’t either.

There is no need to panic if you do not have one, but it does mean before you can go for that run or walk, you need to stretch and get warmed up first. The Michigan State Police offer a useful template as an example of how a plan can be written. Our friends at CISA also have a great tip sheet for the basics of a plan.

So you have a plan

So now that you have your incident response plan, you are ready to start exercising. Just like with a workout plan, you need to select your exercises. Similar to real life workouts, it is important to workout different scenarios so you become more prepared for anything. This also allows you to strengthen the most common cybersecurity muscles to help with the day to day of life.

There are some obvious exercises, like recovering from ransomware for example, but maybe you utilize a managed service provider. What happens if they are compromised? That sounds like a good exercise to walk through to me. Instead of an MSP, it is a vendor and your credit card swipers are impacted? We return once again to CISA as they offer multiple tabletop packages for you to exercise your cybersecurity.

Parting words

Having your staff and more importantly your incident response team regularly practice for multiple scenarios of cyber attack recovery is an important part of your cybersecurity. You may have the best plan ever written, but until you put it to the test, you won’t know what actually works and what doesn’t.

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