Cyber Fundamentals: Tabletop Exercises

Cyber Risk Management Chronicles, Episode V

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Cybersecurity programs must be tested on a routine basis. It takes significant time and effort to develop a cybersecurity program.  The efficacy of a program is only theoretical until thorough testing is conducted.  One of the most effective ways to test a program is by conducting tabletop exercises. Such testing can be conducted at any stage of program development, either to measure an adaptive program’s efficacy in responding to various scenarios, or to assist a nascent program in the identification of gaps in need of attention.

Is your organization truly prepared for a cyberattack or breach? Simply having a cybersecurity incident response plan is not sufficient to protect an organization. Industry experts strongly recommend running a tabletop cybersecurity exercise at least once per year. Practice makes perfect, and the result is often a more resilient response when it matters most — during an actual event.

Tabletop exercises offer maximum value when the scenario is specifically tailored to an organization’s unique characteristics including threat vectors, industry, data, assets, and culture. 

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The goal of a cybersecurity tabletop exercise is to evaluate your cybersecurity program, including responsible team members’ reactions to simulated real-world scenarios. Tabletop exercises offer maximum value when the scenario is specifically tailored to an organization’s unique characteristics including threat vectors, industry, data, assets, and culture. 

Training received during tabletop exercises will enable teams to act more efficiently during real events. Tabletop exercises also demonstrate the necessary cooperation and communication with key people across departments within the organization; these are emphatically not siloed IT exercises. The bottom line is that cyberattacks and breaches can be incredibly stressful events and untested individuals and teams are a risk. It is essential to have the practiced ability to take appropriate steps, restore functions promptly, and minimize potential damage. 


Dr. Jack Dever & James Dever, Lockhaven Solutions

Dr. Jack Dever is CEO and Co-Founder of Lockhaven Solutions, a professional services company specializing in tailored, risk-based solutions for our digital world. Jack served as FBI Assistant General Counsel where he advised on global cyber operations against nation state actors and Tier 1 operations against terrorist organizations. He was an Assistant US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago) and served on active duty in the US Army as a Judge Advocate. He deployed multiple times to war zones and is a highly decorated combat Veteran. After leaving government service, but before founding Lockhaven, Jack was an Executive at General Electric where he served as Global Crisis Management Leader and developed the Business Intelligence Cyber Fraud Unit. He was also an Executive at several of the world’s largest banks including GE Capital, Wells Fargo, and UBS. He holds a doctorate in Cyber Law and is Co-Director at the Center for National Security and Human Rights Law in Chicago. James Dever is Co-Founder and Principal of Lockhaven Solutions. James is a former US Air Force Professor of Cyber Warfare. In partnership with Air Force and NSA Cryptologic School colleagues, he designed and taught new graduate programs in Cyber Strategy for senior military officers and DoD civilians. He served on active duty in the US Army. He was the senior Cyber Warfare Judge Advocate at Army Cyber Command where he advised on global offensive, defensive, and DoD information network missions. He also served as Chair of the Law Department at the Army Intelligence School. Prior to military service, he was an attorney at Deloitte Cyber Risk where he facilitated enterprise cyber risk management for Fortune 100 companies and partnered with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop the Trusted Identities in Cyberspace and Privacy Engineering programs. He is Co-Director of the Cyber Risk Management for Executives Program in Chicago and a member of the Board of Directors at the Journal of Law & Cyber Warfare.