Cybersecurity risk assessment: How to protect your organisation from the big, bad world
A cybersecurity risk assessment is a crucial element - or should be, at least - of any organisation’s cybersecurity efforts. While installing antivirus software is a great first step, the level of threat and risk that exists in the scary world outside requires a more thorough and sophisticated approach.
While your teams may be able to perform these assessments, themselves, this is best left to experts who leverage sophisticated risk assessment techniques, strategies and technologies. Continue reading this post to understand the standard elements of these assessments.
UNDERSTAND YOUR ORGANISATION’S PROCESSES, DATA SOURCES, AND ACTIVITY
The first part of conducting a comprehensive cybersecurity risk assessment is gathering data: What kinds of data you possess, what type of IT systems are in use, and what kind of hardware you’re using, to name just a few of the things you need to know.
In this process, you also need to understand the protective measures already in place to protect your resources. Perhaps, you’ve already undertaken a few security audits or compliance procedures, which will make this process easier and more intuitive.
Regardless if you have or haven’t, start gathering this data and work together as an organisation to identify the goals and scope of the cybersecurity protection you envision for your company.
In addition to these, you must also be aware of relevant regulations and other industry standards that may apply to your organisation.
FIGURE OUT WHAT SOME OF YOUR BIGGEST THREATS ARE LIKELY TO BE
One of the most important and obvious parts of a cybersecurity risk assessment is identifying the risks your company is facing.
Here, it’s important to distinguish between threats that are a result of concerted, external attacks and those that are present as a result of accidental or innocuous means. One of the best examples of the latter is things like poor password security.
The former category includes hackers and other malicious agents or activity, directly targeted at breaching your protection.
These threats and risks can be identified through penetration testing, red teaming, and other cybersecurity techniques aimed at protecting an organisation by conducting simulated attacks.
PLOT HOW THESE THREATS WILL BE CARRIED OUT AGAINST YOUR COMPANY
While it may be impossible to understand every possible way in which your organisation may be attacked, it’s important to use the data from your threat detection phase and plot out how hackers may attempt to compromise your systems, hardware, and data.
For phishing attacks, for example, you can try and identify how hackers may deceive employees and what kind of information they will try to get their hands on. Another example is how these malicious agents will use malware to extract confidential information or damage your systems and hardware.
IDENTIFYING HOW VULNERABLE YOUR ORGANISATION ACTUALLY IS
At this stage, you need to identify your level of vulnerability by understanding how likely it is that your organisation will fall victim to identified risks. This can be done by taking into account existing cybersecurity measures in place.
This may turn out to be more complex than you anticipate. For this reason, it’s usually best to leave this element to companies that are certified and experienced in carrying out cybersecurity risk assessments.
DETERMINE HOW A SUCCESSFUL CYBERATTACK WILL IMPACT YOUR OPERATIONS
One of the final elements of a cybersecurity risk assessment involves understanding how any one of the threats you identified, in this process, will affect your operations if successfully conducted.
While the aim, here, is to ensure that this never happens, it helps to be prepared for worst-case scenarios so you can mitigate the damage these cause.
CONDUCT A CYBERSECURITY RISK ASSESSMENT TO STAY FREE FROM MALICIOUS HACKS AND DATA BREACHES
A cybersecurity risk assessment is one of the best ways in which you can keep your company free from external threats and internal vulnerabilities.