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  • Jack Grieve, Cyber Exercising Manager, Scottish Business Resilience Centre, shares in detail the Micro Exercises sessions of our Exercise in a Box workshops.
  • What is it? 

    The micro exercise session combines several fundamental aspects of cyber security with additional, broader cyber security learnings within a 90-minute session to ensure all organisations, regardless of their sector or level of cyber knowledge, can benefit and enjoy.

    The exercise is split up into 4 topics:

    1. Ensuring password security
    2. Identifying and reporting phishing emails
    3. Connecting securely during remote work
    4. Responding to a ransomware attack

    The sessions take the form of collaborative discussions, giving participants the time and opportunity to further their knowledge of a particular cyber security subject and identify areas of improvement. An SBRC Ethical Hacker will facilitate the conversation.

    What is expected of the participants?  

    You’re here to think, talk and learn about this topic. You don’t need to be a Cyber Security expert; it is not a test. Instead, we aim to enable collaborative discussions that further your knowledge and help you identify areas of improvement. Your nominated facilitator is here to run the session and keep the conversation on track, in whatever way the group is comfortable with.  

    Using Passwords  

    Context  

    The proliferation of password use, and increasingly complex password requirements, places an unrealistic demand on users. Inevitably, users will devise their own coping mechanisms to cope with ‘password overload’.

    This includes:  

    • Using the same password across different systems  
    • Using simple and predictable password creation strategies  
    • Writing passwords down where they can be easily found  

    Attackers exploit these well-known coping strategies, leaving your staff and organisation vulnerable.  

    This micro exercise explores how passwords are managed, how attackers find your passwords and what you can do to limit your risk of becoming a victim.  

    Responding to a Ransomware Attack  

    Context  

    Cyber security is everyone’s responsibility, and we all have a role to play in preventing cyber-attacks and minimising the impact when attacks do happen. Whilst a large amount of cyber defence is technical, people are a significant factor in defending and responding to cyber-attacks. Ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly common and can have a devastating effect on both businesses and people’s personal lives.  This micro exercise explores what might happen if ransomware were to make its way on to your organisations network, and how you and your organisation might respond.  

    Identifying and Reporting a Suspected Phishing Email  

    Context  

    Spotting a phishing email is becoming increasingly difficult and can trick almost anyone into clicking on a link or opening an attachment, potentially infecting your system and those connected to it. Preventing this type of attack from being successful can help to mitigate a large proportion of cyber-attacks. Whilst most of this defence is technical, cyber security is everyone’s responsibility and we all have a role to play in preventing cyber-attacks and minimising the impact when attacks do happen.  

    This micro exercise focuses on exploring the role users must play in spotting a phishing email, and the steps they can take to mitigate the damage a breach may cause.  

    Connecting Securely  

    Context  

    Organisations have been increasing their ability to enable home and remote working for their employees. This often means the adoption of new working practices, systems, and software, to enable employees to connect and carry out their work. However, this increase in remote working has provided more opportunities for attackers to compromise users’ personal and company data. For example, connecting to public Wi-Fi or insecure networks with mobile devices can allow attackers on the same network to intercept or modify your data.  This micro exercise explores some of the ways users can ensure they are connecting to their home and work environment securely, protecting both their data and their organisation’s data.  

    Why do it?

    It is important for organisations to conduct cyber exercising to enable them to prepare for a potential cyber-attack within their business and mitigate that threat as much as possible. Additionally, please remember that Exercise in a Box is a safe environment for every participant so please do not feel like you cannot say anything.

    The session offers multiple takes away, as within a provided follow up session, a report from the NCSC can be generated, linking to all the guidance relevant to your organization, taken from the session.

    Some of the benefits and key takeaways of cyber exercising include:

    • Understanding actual versus perceived capabilities of people and technology.
    • Figuring out where to invest budgets in training or new technology.
    • Building muscle memory and reducing stress for security teams and management.
    • Improving morale and team building.
    • Meeting regulatory requirements.

    You can find additional guidance from both SBRC and NCSC below:

    SBRC Additional Guidance Our website contains a plethora of resources that contain answers to many cyber security topics: https://www.sbrcentre.co.uk/resources 

    NCSC Additional Guidance Mitigating malware and ransomware attacks: www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/mitigating-malware-andransomware-attacks 

    Malware & ransomware guidance: the reboot: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/blog-post/rebooting-malwareand-ransomware-guidance 

    Dealing with suspicious emails, phone calls and text messages: www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/suspicious-email-actions 

    Phishing attacks: defending your organisation: www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/phishing 

    Phishing: How to report to the NCSC: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/information/report-suspiciousemails 

    Video conferencing services: Security guidance for organisations: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/video-conferencingservices-security-guidance-organisations 

    10 steps to cyber security –Removable media controls: www.ncsc.gov.uk/collection/10-steps-to-cyber-security/ the-10-steps/removable-media-controls 

    Software as a service (Saas) security guidance: www.ncsc.gov.uk/collection/saas-security

    Password managers: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/collection/top-tips-for-staying-secure-online/password-managers