Several activities and systems put your business at risk of being attacked. Your sensitive data may be stolen. Your system may be hacked. You may have viruses infiltrate your computers. And a whole lot of malicious activities may be targeted at your company. Even your employees and trusted partners can put your company data at risk.
This is why you must prioritize cyber security risk assessments to understand your company’s cybersecurity posture — whether you are onboarding them or re-evaluating during an audit period.
Companies operating remote and hybrid systems need to do more to heighten their security posture and block out vulnerabilities. For example, experts are warning a ransomware attack may impact businesses in the digital space every 11 seconds. And this is regardless of the kind of company you operate or the security systems you have in place.
A key factor distinguishing resilient businesses from vulnerable ones is how many cyber risk assessment systems they have in place. According to experts, an effective way business owners can boost resilience and prepare sufficiently for any event is to implement a well-structured and effective risk assessment strategy.
What is Cybersecurity Risk Assessment?
Cyber security risk assessment is recognizing aspects of a company that could be affected by a cyberattack and identifying the specific risks that could impact those assets. In other words, cyber risk assessment includes identifying, analyzing, and evaluating risks to determine which specific cybersecurity techniques and controls would be ideal for your company. With the assessment, managers and security teams can make informed decisions regarding the perfect security solution needed to minimize threats to company resources.
Organizations seeking to improve their security infrastructure often complete a cybersecurity risk assessment to understand how huge the risk nature of their network systems is and also devise means to mitigate them. Having a risk assessment process also generates awareness in an organization and makes it crucial for everyone to adopt the best security traditions into a more risk-aware culture.
1. Determine Company Assets And Prioritize Them
Get started by itemizing the kinds of risks and threats facing your company. It is essential to determine all the logical and physical assets that can be categorized under your company’s cybersecurity assessment scope. Next, decide on assets most valuable to your business and can be a significant target by attackers. Some of what to consider will include financial systems bearing detailed company information or databases containing sensitive employee and client details. Also, consider your computer systems, laptops, digital files, storage devices, and hard drives that contain intellectual property information and other vital data. But before you do an assessment, ensure you get the support of key stakeholders within your focus of assessment. They will be very instrumental in providing technical support for a successful procedure. Also, review essential standards and laws that offer the required recommendations and guidelines to carry out the risk assessment successfully.
2. Identify Specific Cyber Risks/Threats
As an organization up to war against threats and attacks, it means being proactive when you can identify the risk situation and potential threats against you. Then, you’ll either be able to plan adequately to defend your resources or minimize the impact of attacks as much as possible. Some common threats you’ll need to locate include the following:
- Abuse of privileges: People with access rights who are caught misusing information may need to be placed on stricter authorization processes or outright denied access to data.
- Unauthorized access to resources: These could be malware infection, internal threats, phishing, or direct attacks.
- Data leakage: this includes utilizing unencrypted USB or unrestricted CD-ROM. Also, it entails the transmission Non-Public Personal Information (NNPP) over unsecured channels and ignorantly releasing sensitive information to the wrong destination.
- Hardware failure: The possibility of experiencing failed hardware largely depends on the age and quality of such hardware, whether servers or machines. You will not likely experience severe risks with high-quality modernized equipment.
- Data loss can occur due to poor backup processes or strategies.
- Natural disasters: These could be earthquakes, floods, fires, hurricanes, or other natural situations that could affect data security or destroy appliances and servers.
3. Calculate and Prioritize Risks
Calculate risks and prioritize them. Common risk range examples are:
Severe risks situation: They are a considerable threat that requires urgent attention. You’ll need to take proactive risk remediation measures to be performed instantly.
Elevated risks situation: Possible threat to organizational security that can be addressed through complete risk remediation actions within a reasonable period.
Low risks situations: Regular risk situations that could still affect the organization. Organizations should perform extra security measures to enhance security against undetected and potentially harmful threats.
Essentially, any situation above a particular risk level should be prioritized for immediate remediation action that will mitigate the risk factors. Some corrective measures you should consider include:
- To absolutely discontinue or avoid an activity that offers more risks than benefits.
- To reduce the effect of risk by transferring between parties. It could include outsourcing operations to certified parties and getting cyber insurance.
- To fizzle out enterprise risk issues. It involves harnessing controls and other measures that help to address risk situations that significantly impact risk levels.
4. Create Cyber Risks Assessment Report
Documenting risk reports is necessary to cover every uncovered risk level. A risk assessment report will guide the management in making informed decisions as regards cybersecurity policies, budgets, and procedures. Some information to be reflected in your report should include identified threats, vulnerable assets, corresponding risks, potential occurrence, an asset at risk, potential risk impact, and the control recommendations.
5. Enforce Strict Security Policies
You’ll need to mitigate risks through continuous comprehensive and intuitive security. Some reliable ways to do this include utilizing automated patching within the system, employing applications and intelligent security tools to monitor traffic, delivering actionable, real-time insights, and complete, timely protection against known and emerging threats.
In addition, backups and regular system updates must be prioritized along with comprehensive security for every device in your IT environment, including BYOT devices. Deploy strict security protocols, especially if your company has remote workers. Ensure strict authentication policies and access controls are in place and, when possible, consolidate systems and data in a single source, as disorganized and siloed data can be difficult to secure or even monitor.
On a Final Note
Get professional support to perform a cybersecurity risk assessment. It may turn out an immensely complicated and time-consuming to secure infrastructure. However, cyber risk assessment is essential to eliminate the possibility of a cybercriminal effect. If your company isn’t equipped with the required tools, skills, and time to perform, then consider having a trusted professional support you.