CISA Shields Up Recommendations

CISA Shields Up: Recommendations for Every Role

What would you do if a cyberattack disabled your business? You may think your organization is low-risk for such an attack, but think again. The CISA Shields Up initiative makes it clear that no one is.

Don’t let malware, ransomware, or worse take over your business. It is time you take your organizations cybersecurity system seriously. Read on to find out how your security team can take necessary measures to combat cybercrime.

The CISA Shields Up Initiative

Shields Up is the United States Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency's (CISA) initiative to draw attention to times when waves of cyberattacks are more likely to happen. CISA has announced that we are in a time of high alert. CISA Shields Up guidelines recommend that organizations enhance their cybersecurity while continuing to apply IT best practices.

More Cyberattacks on the Horizon?

According to CISA, since Russia invaded Ukraine, there has been an increase in malicious cyber activity worldwide. Since the United States and its allies have imposed economic sanctions to hold Russia accountable for its continued attacks on Ukraine, it is believed that Russia is responding by exploring options for potential cyberattacks. New call-to-action

Who Does Shields Up Affect?

Cyberattacks take advantage of organizations by looking for vulnerabilities within their security infrastructure. The main objective of these cyber intrusions is to find a way into computer systems to destroy or gain control of the systems.

These attacks often block access, steal, or change data. A cyberattack causes a lot of strife among business owners and their IT teams. Yet, you should not feel helpless about a cyber intrusion. CISA Shields Up has been working tirelessly to educate and guide organizations to ensure they do everything they can to prevent cyberattacks.

Schools and Healthcare

Are you a school or a healthcare facility? There is a lot of protected information that needs to remain secure. HIPPA, FERPA, GLBA, and PCI are reasons to take extra measures to keep students and patients safe. 

While healthcare facilities are constantly upgrading their security measures, colleges and universities struggle with keeping cybercriminals away. Whether it be a lack of funding for high-end security or the vulnerability students create, higher education institutions are in dire need to up their game.


Manufacturing companies are often an unthought-of target for cybercrime, but with globalization, they are just as likely to be targeted. In fact, manufacturing companies are considered one of the top targeted sectors for cyberattacks. 

Some of the cyberattacks experienced by manufacturing companies include phishing, ransomware, internal attacks, and threats to the supply chain. A lot of these attacks are financially motivated, and they play havoc on company infrastructure.

Energy and Utility Companies 

What happens when all the lights go out? If a cyberattack was to shut down the electrical grid, people could start to panic. Thankfully, energy and utility companies take a lot of security measures to keep the grid up and running.

Energy and utility companies have some strict regulations to meet. Yet, they still succumb to ransomware attacks, particularly municipal utility providers. With tight budgets and minimal security measures in place, municipal utility companies have become an easy target for cybercriminals.

No Organization is Exempt

CISA recommends that all organizations take quick action to protect their assets. Any business, big or small, can be affected. The key to handling cyberattacks is to have a response plan in place.

CISA has been working hard to bring awareness to large and small businesses about the threats of cyberattacks. No longer do organizations need to apply a wait-and-see approach to cyber security. Instead, they can be part of the solution.

How CEOs Should Respond

As the head of your company, you have worked hard to build what you have. Taking care that your assets are protected is extremely important to you. Do not let a cyber attack ruin your business.

Plan for the Worst

Think about what your worst-case scenario would be. Who or what would be affected? Chances are, it is not just your business accounts that would be at risk. You must think about all the information you have stored about your clients, financials, employees, and the rest of your business. 

Will a cyber attack crush your organization? Not if you have a plan. CISA Shields Up informs us that being proactive can help you and your team navigate all the troubles that occur during a cyberattack.  

Security Trainings 

Implement regular security trainings with your Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and IT team. During these trainings, discuss email security and phishing, physical access to computers and devices, malware and ransomware, social media, and mobile security. Ensure your team uses multi-factor authentication, and IT keeps up with logs and analytics. 

Hold Drills

During an emergency, you need to know what to do. This goes for anything from a simple water leak to the complete disabling of your business. So, how do you ensure that everybody knows what to do during a cyber attack? 

First, make sure you have a crisis-response plan and a dedicated response team. Ensure that not only IT is involved, but your senior leadership staff is also. Also, host some tabletop exercises to ensure everybody knows what to do.


As the CEO, you need to consider how you will respond to the media in the event of a cyber attack. Chances are, there will be confidential information that will be compromised as a result. Be truthful and forthcoming about what happened. 

Your team needs to be up to speed on what is happening in the event of a cyberattack. To make this happen, you must have a communication plan in place to broadcast a cybersecurity alert to your team. 

At the worst, a cyberattack will disable your entire network. Your organization may temporarily be without email, phone, or Internet. Your leadership and IT team should keep each other's contact numbers and emails on their cell phones if they need to contact somebody during an emergency.

Include Your CISO

Whatever you do, do not leave your CISO out of the loop. Make sure that you include them at leadership meetings and allow them to have a say in the decisions regarding IT and security. Ensure your CISO and IT team are working closely to avoid communication gaps.

Hold regular meetings with your CISO. Ask them the hard questions. How long will it take to get back up and running in the event of a cyber intrusion? 

How will you restore the system? Will long will it take, days or hours? Are there ways to backup the system to get back on track quicker? Knowing how a cyberattack will be resolved creates peace of mind.

How CISOs Should Respond 

The CISO is responsible for ensuring that there is a security strategy in place and data assets are protected. In case of a cyber attack, the CISO is the one who best understands cybersecurity. So, how should the CISO respond?

Have a Strategy In Place

The CISO needs to create a strategy, policies, and systems to ensure a cyber attack does not happen. However, if an attack does happen, you need to know how to deal with it. Communication is key.

Work with the CEO to create a solid cybersecurity strategy. Create logs and documentation. Present plans and ideas to strengthen your security team and systems.

Staying up-to-date on security trends is one of the most essential things a CISO can do for an organization. Failing to do so opens organizations up for cybercrime. Ensure your IT team is up-to-date on their security and regulatory requirements. 

Check for Vulnerabilities

The CISO also needs to check for vulnerabilities and have a program in place to implement security patches. Security patches should be the number one priority for your IT security team. They should be applied as soon as possible. 

You should also use your budget wisely. Creating a rock-solid cybersecurity program for your organization will mitigate many risks.

Test Often

Decide on how often to test your emergency response system. The senior leadership team, CISO, and the IT team need to work closely together on this. You will need to test your workflows and backup procedures. 

Be Proactive

Most importantly, be proactive and create adequate documentation focusing on your business's critical infrastructure. What data is the most important for your organization to get back online first?

Also, what do already have that can help prevent a complete organizational shut-down? Are there manual controls in place to ensure critical operations continue to run? You should have systems in place to allow for the organization to stay up and running while the IT team is solving the security threat.

How IT Managers Should Respond

The IT team is the first line of defense for keeping your business safe from a cyber attack. They are the ones that keep your software up-to-date, prioritize your updates, and address any vulnerabilities in the system. 

Identify Potential Threats

With that said, it is the responsibility of the IT manager to notify the upline of any potential problems or threats to security. As an IT manager, you need to ensure that your team reports any unusual or unexpected activities, even if they were blocked.

One of the biggest downfalls of a cybersecurity team is becoming complacent. Keeping your IT team motivated can keep them from letting down their guard. Overlooking a problem that seemed minor at the time can cause trouble for your organization.

Backup the Cloud

Many organizations store their data on cloud storage services. It is the age we live in. Though the data is encrypted, regularly backing up your data to a physical hard drive will ensure the organization's data is safe.

Review Remote Access 

Are there employees who work from home? Your team should review remote access points and install antivirus and anti-malware software on your systems. It is best if employees use company-owned devices at home, but if not, a secure VPN or direct application access are good options.

If working with third-party vendors or other countries, the IT team needs to ensure that remote access points are secure and keep a close eye out for suspicious activity. Enabling your team to keep logs will go a long way.

CISA Shields Up Recommendations

How BitLyft Can Help Prevent Cyber Attacks

Detection and response are key before a cyber attack even happens. Fortunately, your organization does not need to carry all the burden on its shoulders. BitLyft's extended detection and response (XDR) solution is designed to keep your organization protected. 

However, we take extended detection and response services to a different level. Our team is experts in the cybersecurity realm. We want to ensure all businesses–big or small–have access to the best cybersecurity out there.

Greater Visibility

BitLyft utilizes SIEM technology to ensure your organization has real-time access to what is going on in your network. We provide you with a dashboard including real-time reports and threat alerts.

Quick Response

BitLyft uses automation to combine multiple tasks and processes into a single event. The software is faster at stopping threats in their tracks. Handling these tasks via automated software accomplishes remediation faster than it would take humans to perform. 

Access to the Experts

BitLyft's Security operations center team is highly knowledgeable in SIEM, threat hunting, alarm investigation, and remediation. A dedicated cybersecurity team provides protection, detection, knowledgeable guidance, feedback, and direction. Your company will be in the best position to fight against cybercrime. 


BitLyft grows with your organization– large or small. We ensure that every organization has access to expert cybersecurity, no matter the time of day. 

Please think of us as an extension of your team. We offer team calls, reporting, and check-ins. And if you ever need us, we are just a phone call away.

Prevent Attacks Before They Happen

Not having a plan against cyber attacks is detrimental to your business. The CISA Shields Up initiative has brought light to how serious these cyber intrusions can be. But your organization does not have to fall victim to security breaches.

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