There’s a new term floating around the cybersecurity space – prosilience. But what is it, exactly? And what does it mean for you?

No one wants their server to be struck with a crisis – to be brought to its knees by a DDoS attack, taken offline by a natural disaster, or breached by a crafty hacker. But these things happen. They’re an inevitable consequence of doing business in today’s world – and though we can put plenty of safeguards in place to protect against them, all we can really do in the long run is hope our infrastructure can weather the storm. 

But that might soon change.

There’s a new concept floating around the cybersecurity space. Known as proactive resilience – coined ‘prosilience’ by Summer Fowler, technical director at Carnegie Mellon University’s CERT division – it’s based on the idea that eventually, we’ll be able to predict and counteract the majority of threats to the digital realm before they happen. Essentially, it’s the next stage in disaster management and recovery.

“Prosilience is resilience with consciousness of environment, self-awareness and the capacity to evolve,” Fowler wrote on the Insider Threat Blog, a product of Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute. “It is not about being able to operate through disruption,” she says. “It is about anticipating disruption and adapting before it even occurs.”

There are a few things driving the prosilience movement. The first is the Internet of Things. Thanks to sensors within connected devices, IT teams have greater visibility into their organizations than ever before. By analyzing the data gathered by IoT sensors, professionals can see trends they might otherwise miss, extrapolating from those trends to anticipate and prepare for risks.

That’s just the beginning, however.

Artificial intelligence promises to add a new level – systems that are able to dynamically monitor, detect, and react to emerging threats. Imagine a network that’s able to tell the difference, on its own, between an intrusion attempt and an employee who forgot their password. Imagine a server that can see the early stages of a DDoS attack, and take action to mitigate it.

It’s not all sunshine, of course. The technologies that drive prosilient security can just as easily be used by hackers attempting to break into a system. What we’ve got, then, is a sort of digital arms race – a tug-of-war where both sides are trying to develop a system that trumps their opponent.

And, like it or not, the emergence of prosilient architecture isn’t something that’s happened in a vacuum. It’s a sort of natural reaction to the fact that criminals are getting smarter.

“Threats are getting smarter and are increasingly able to operate autonomously,” writes Dark Reading’s Derek Manky. “In the coming year, we expect to see malware designed with adaptive, success-based learning to improve the success and efficacy of attacks. This new generation of malware will be situation-aware, meaning that it will understand the environment it is in and make calculated decisions about what to do next.”

So, what impact does all this stuff have on you, exactly?

Mostly, knowledge of what’s to come should change how you manage your server now. You should start taking a more active role in monitoring the flow of data through your network, and taking steps to respond more effectively to emerging threats. And though machine learning technology is still very much in its infancy, it’s worth looking into how automation can help you better protect your data, wherever it ends up.


To explore the value of investing in security awareness training to reduce the risk of annualized phishing attacks, check out this comprehensive research report by Aberdeen’s Derek Brink. 



Maxim Emelianov is the vice president at HostforWeb.

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