Cybersecurity Tabletop Exercises: A Quick Guide

Cybersecurity Tabletop Exercises: A Quick Guide
2 years ago

As the world of technology evolves, so does the opportunity to perform cyber attacks. Cyber attacks are becoming increasingly common, with 71.1 million people falling victim to cybercrimes annually. Businesses are no longer safe from the threat of cyber attacks, which is why many are opting to carry out Cybersecurity Tabletop Exercises. In this post, we will delve into what this means and why your business should consider it.

What is a Cyber Attack?

A cyberattack is any offensive manoeuvre that targets computer information systems, networks, infrastructures, or personal computer devices. It can take any of the following forms:

Phishing Scams

You need only open your spam mailbox to see an example of a phishing scam. Phishing scams are usually a link sent by a cybercriminal disguised as a trusted company or contact. Once selected, the link takes you to a website where you unwittingly reveal sensitive information to the scammer, such as your credentials or payment details.

Website Spoofing

Designing a website to mimic another in order to trick users into entering their credentials or making payments onto the website. This is done to collect sensitive data or put malware onto your device.


Malware is a fusion of two words: malicious software. Hackers can corrupt files on your device and steal data by tricking you into loading malicious software onto your device. This is considered one of the most common ways that cybercriminals commit cyber crimes.

And those are just a couple of examples of the seemingly endless list of cyber assaults that occur today.

Why do Cybercriminals Carry Out Cyber Attacks?

Typically, cyber attacks happen because criminals seek to capture a business’s or its customers’ financial details or sensitive personal data pertaining to the business or its customers.

So, What is a Cybersecurity Tabletop Exercise?

A Cybersecurity Tabletop Exercise is a scenario-based assessment of your business’s ability to respond effectively to a cyber-attack. The exercise is typically carried out by an experienced facilitator and IT expert, who will articulate a realistic scenario involving an attack on your company’s cyber security.

During the exercise, participants must think and make decisions as though it were an actual incident. Your employees’ response will be observed and ultimately evaluated for its effectiveness in handling a potentially damaging “attack”.

What is the Point of a Cybersecurity Tabletop Exercise?

There are dozens of great benefits to carrying out a cybersecurity tabletop exercise.

Firstly, a cybersecurity tabletop exercise can highlight the gaps in your Incident Response Plans and help you improve them. It can enlighten the company to assess the areas in which staff may need additional training in incident response.

Furthermore, it can strengthen communication between departments and make employees aware of their roles and responsibilities in the event of a cyber attack.

Finally, It is an economical way to build cyber resilience over the long term. The company will gain insight into how to further develop its defence mechanisms and consolidate cyber security.

How are they Planned?

Prior to the exercise, a cyber expert or facilitator will likely meet with a member of your team (probably the person organising the exercise) to discuss the business and plan a relevant scenario so that the cyber attack will feel realistic to the employees. This prior planning is essential so that the facilitator can get acquainted with the intricacies of the business and ensure that the scenario employees are faced with is not a total impossibility.

Who Should Take Part?

The tabletop exercise should include anyone relevant to the IT and Incident Response teams. In addition, members of the executive team should be invited to participate.

What Happens After?

Once the cyber tabletop workshop is complete, the person who led the exercise will produce an Executive Summary detailing what data security solutions went well and how effectively the cyber security incident was handled. It will also outline how effective the business’s incident response was and what lessons were learned in the process.

Bottom Line

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what a Cybersecurity Tabletop Exercise is and what it consists of. If you are running a business, it is worth thinking about taking the time to do this activity, as it will prepare you and your employees well in the event of a cyber attack.

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