You take time with your staff to regularly review what they should do in a fire. You should be doing the same for your cybersecurity. And a great way to prepare for them is, doing tabletop exercises.
Tabletop exercises are an essential part of any overarching security strategy. Security needs to be looked at holistically, not as individual disparate areas or functions but as a series of functions that come together under one overarching umbrella. Security exercises like tabletop exercises are a useful way to gauge how effective a company's current security strategy currently is and help them determine how they can achieve their short-term, medium-term, and long-term security goals.
Tabletop exercises involve addressing a hypothetical cybersecurity breach and working as a team to find a solution to patch the breach and minimize or even prevent damage. You cannot predict every tool you may need in the world of cybersecurity, but you can see where gaps are apparent and how to fill those gaps based on priority: high priority gaps must be filled in the short term, the lower priority gaps can be dealt with on a mid to long-term time range.
When running tabletop exercises, it is important to make sure all of your key stakeholders are involved. This way you can account for each role in the exercise. If your company does not yet have a security strategy or that strategy is not as comprehensive as it needs to be, you should be running exercises that are designed to expose gaps criminals could exploit. Once any gaps have been identified, you will be able to create or improve the security protocols to needed to address hacks, breaches, or other cybersecurity crises that may arise.
During your tabletop exercises, your team should run through a variety of possible scenarios that might arise and analyze how and where they would occur. The four steps of dealing with a cybersecurity attack are:
See the attack
Correlate the attack
Stop the attack
Remediate the attack
When planning your tabletop exercises focus on three to five cases that your team has identified as being the types of attack, or the ones that would cause the most amount of damage. It is crucial that your team conducts tabletop exercises that include both broad and specific attacks. Broad tests could consist of simulating a brute force attack on your email server or trying to breach your company's firewall. Specific tests could include scenarios such as what to do if an employee downloads a bad file when they open a suspicious link in an email.
If you want to take your cybersecurity tests even further, you may want to consider running a penetration test as well. A penetration test involves hiring an ethical hacker to try and break into your system. If they find any weak spots that they can exploit to gain entry they will then disclose these weak points to your company, so you can create solutions and improve your security. There are external pen tests, which is having someone try and break into your system from the outside using a hole or vulnerability and gain access. Then internal pen tests which is similar but the attack is launched from inside the network.
By working through scenarios thoroughly when nothing is at risk you and your team will be much better prepared should there ever be an actual breach. Basic cybersecurity relies on a secure network, and vulnerability management is key to keeping your network secure. The vulnerability landscape is changing by the second and it's imperative that your company is made aware of any security gaps as quickly as possible so they can be patched quickly. Conducting tabletop exercises and pen tests is two ways you can help your company remain secure.