Cyber attacks are like earth quakes

Earth quakes and cyber attacks have much in common. First: The forces are outside of our control and we can not prevent them to happen.

Second: We are not helplessly at the mercy. We can install early warning, minimize destructive effect and recover quickly. But only if we act BEFORE it happens.

Sure, earth quakes are about human live and cyber attacks are so far usually not. Yet I think this comparison is important in order to make it easier to understand the significance of cyber attacks the the options for action.

Of course there are also differences and the most striking one to me is the average frequency of occurence. This vivid direct comparison shows the parallels:

We have no technology to prevent them to happen, but… Earth quake Cyber Attack
We have prognosis models where they happen most likely Tectonic models Vulnerability intelligence

We have sensors that provide early warnings shortly before it happens

(sometimes they fail though with false positive and false negatives)

Seismographs Vulnerability scanning and threat intelligence
We have a scale to compare events about potential damage

Richter magnitude scale: Ranges from 1.0 to 9.9

  • Sometimes the effect is just shaking indoor objects and sometimes it is collapse of buildings

Severity Score: Ranges from 0.1 to 10.0

  • Sometimes you have some extra network load and sometimes a remote administrative exploit.
…you can do something to minimize negative impact:
Make you infrastructure stable against this type of force

Obligatory architecture designs

  • Overview and controlling of compliance

Obligatory security policies

  • detection and limitation of attack surface:
  • Vulnerability testing and remediation
  • Vulnerability management and compliance
Have trained teams ready to help recover quickly when it happens
  • Central command center and
  • distributed on-site medical and repair teams
  • Processes and and regular trainings thereof
  • Security operation center and distributed system administrator
  • Dev-ops or suppliers for operational support
  • Processes and and regular trainings thereof
Make all people aware on how to save their lives best when it happens
  • Understandable training materials and
  • regular awareness trainings
  • Understandable training materials and
  • regular awareness trainings