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David Ratcliffe, President, Pink Elephant

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    Resilience Is Not Another Name For Security - Just Ask The Fukushima Power Plant Operator

    Security measures help us to AVOID breaches. That’s a good thing. We should all undertake cyber security, and every organization does - to some degree or another.

    Cyber resilience on the other hand goes beyond security measures to includes additional plans and actions for how to deal with the after-effects of threats that may not be preventable or predictable, or because of lapses in cyber security. Such as an employee who - with no malicious intent - works around strict policies to access corporate data from an unsecured device. Or a mischievous hacker who exploits a “back door” or “buffer overflow routine” to crash a computer system. Or a rare natural disaster that turns out to be worse that anything we thought possible (never mind probable).

    Back to the more mundane world of IT management, we’re all very familiar with the increasing rate at which software developers have to release patches to close vulnerabilities in operating systems and application software. The very nature of this work means they’re always playing catch-up. So until the patch is developed, and applied, we’re vulnerable. if all we relied upon were security measures, then we’re not being responsible. We need to at least put some thought into “what if the worst were to happen, what next?” Cue resilience.

    Consider what happened to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in 2011. No matter how secure they believed they were in being able to prevent catastrophic damage from the most likely threats (including the after-effects of earthquakes and tsunamis) the Board of Audit investigating the “incident” is uncovering systematic complacency by TEPCO, the plant operator. When the tsunami hit and the reactor was flooded a bunch of resilience systems should have kicked-in to shut things down and minimize the negative effects. Sure, there’d be interruptions in power supply to the customers. And sure, they’d be a massive clean-up expense. But those “inconveniences” are part of the price of doing business in this volatile world. Instead, lack of reasonable resilience measures resulted in a full meltdown, lost lives and an astoundingly expensive de-commissioning and clean-up operation which will cost tens of billions of dollars and take 30-40 years to complete! What should have been a very bad incident became a catastrophic disaster.

    At the Cyber Risk & Resilience Summit events we’re presenting in Washington D.C. & London in June, we will be discussing not only what good resilience practices look like, but how they can be institutionalized.

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