Cyber Risk Assessment: The Ultimate Guide for Businesses of All Sizes

A slew of cyberattacks targeting businesses has dominated headlines over the past few years. These attacks are often deliberate, motivated by financial gain, and have become more frequent during the coronavirus pandemic. Every business, large or small, is a potential target.

The cybersecurity landscape has changed dramatically over the past year. Cybercriminals are increasingly coming up with newer, more sophisticated ways to steal your data. How do you protect your business? You have to identify your security weaknesses and manage your risk. But where do you start?

Risk Assessment

Managing risk is key to effectively mitigating cyber threats, and it all starts with properly assessing the risk. Risk assessment is a critical component of risk management and cybersecurity efforts. A successful risk assessment process can help your business understand, control, and mitigate all types of cyber threats.

What Is A Cyber Risk Assessment?

A cyber risk assessment is a fundamental approach for businesses to identify, estimate, and prioritize risks to business operations from the use of information systems. The goal is to keep stakeholders informed and help executives make informed cybersecurity decisions.

A cyber risk assessment helps you reduce risks cost-effectively and align with your business goals. What do you know about protecting your business? A cyber risk assessment will help you answer the following cybersecurity questions:

What is your current security position? 

Your security position is the ability to detect and contain threats such as ransomware, data breaches, et cetera. Evaluate the controls and processes you have in place to protect your business from cyber threats.

How susceptible is your business to cyberattacks? 

Every business stores data in its information systems. Cybercriminals want to hack your systems, steal this data, and they are not shy about it. What valuable data does your business stand to lose in the event of an attack?

What is the likelihood of your staff enabling or furthering an attack?

Usually, organizations have a battery of defenses against external threats such as network attacks, phishing, malware, and viruses. However, these protections are often compromised by negligent or errant human behavior.

Are there any physical and procedural weaknesses in the business that could enable attacks?

Examine your system for potential entry points for malicious threat actors. Ensure that everybody in the organization is familiar with infiltration techniques such as malware, social engineering, phishing, and more.

What are the most likely at-risk business assets?

Businesses hold all kinds of information. Identify the data that is most likely at risk. Attackers often target Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and intellectual property. You probably have customer PII, employee PII, trade secrets, copyrights, and patents in your possession.

When you can answer these questions, you’ll be able to determine what to protect. A cyber risk assessment will help you develop data security strategies and IT security controls for risk mitigation. Identifying potential threats and putting the necessary measures in place reduces security incidents and saves your business money in the long term.

How to Carry Out a Cyber Risk Assessment

Now that we know what a cyber risk assessment is and how it can help you protect your business, let’s look at the steps that businesses need to take to complete one. Here are the basic steps of a risk assessment.

Form a Risk Management Team

A cyber risk assessment is a team effort and needs cross-functional input. Put together a cross-departmental risk management team. Ensure that the team includes the following people:

•    Senior management to oversee the whole exercise
•    Chief information security officer to analyze relevant network architecture
•    A manager from each department
•    Human resources to provide insight to employee PII
•    Someone from Marketing to discuss the information collected
•    Privacy Officer to locate PII
•    Compliance officer to guarantee compliance with HIPAA and NIST CSF

Identify and Prioritize Assets

Your cross-departmental team can now work together to identify and prioritize which information assets to assess. Create an inventory of all these assets, including various Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions within the organization, including assets that third-party vendors use as well.

Assess and Analyze Risk

After you have identified your data assets that are crucial to your organization, the next step is to identify the risks that could impact them. Consider the risks to your information assets— hackers, insider threats, malware, etc. — and what harm each of them could cause your business.

Assign a score for each risk based on:

  • Probability. The likelihood of an attacker gaining access to an asset
  • Impact. The impact that a cybersecurity incident might have on your company, including reputational, operational, and financial.

Multiply the probability by the impact to determine your risk tolerance level. Using this figure, you can choose to accept, avoid, transfer, or mitigate each risk.

Implement and Monitor Security Controls

The next step is defining and implementing security controls to minimize the possibility of cyber risk. It’s important to set up security control for all potential threats. Since attackers keep changing their attack methods, you need to continuously monitor your safeguards to ensure optimal performance.

A cyberattack can seriously disrupt or damage your business. Every business that has internet connectivity and some form of IT infrastructure is at risk. Organizations have to manage these risks, and that process starts with risk assessment. Risk assessment helps you understand how great of a risk your business is facing and how to manage it.

Get Professional Cybersecurity Help

Due to the evolving nature of the digital risk landscape and compliance requirements, it can be difficult for businesses to get a holistic view of their current cyber security posture and assess risks. But you can’t protect yourself against what you don’t know. Without a proper risk assessment, your business is left exposed to all kinds of threats.

Veltec Networks can help you gain complete visibility of your organization’s security and risk profile, allowing you to address areas that are most critical in achieving your business objectives. Our team of IT security experts will work closely with your organization to manage cyber risks while maintaining a balance of productivity and operational efficiency.

Get in touch with us today for more information on how we can help your business manage risks more effectively.

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