What is a Cyber Security Risk Assessment and Why Have One Done?

What is a Cyber Security Risk Assessment and Why Have One Done?

What is a Cyber Risk Assessment?

NIST describes cyber risk assessments as risk assessments that are used to classify, measure, and prioritize risk to organizational processes , organizational assets, entities, other organizations , and the Nation as a result of the activity and use of the information systems.

A cyber risk assessment's primary aim is to help educate decision-makers and facilitate effective responses to the risks. They also have an executive overview to assist managers and directors in making educated safety decisions. The method of risk evaluation of information security risks the addressing of the following questions:

What are the most important assets of information technology at our organization?

-- data breach will have a major effect on our business, be it due to malware, cyber attack or human error? Think about customer info.

What are the specific risks and sources of danger to our organization?

Which are the flaws, internally and externally?

How is the effect if we exploit those vulnerabilities?

What are the odds of exploitation?

What cyber attacks, cyber threats or security incidents could affect the business' ability to function?

Which level of risk is comfortable taking for my organization?

When you can answer those questions, you can find out what to cover. That means you can develop risk reduction IT security measures and data protection strategies. You need to answer the following questions before you can do that however:

Which chance am I lowering?

Was this the greatest risk to health priority?

Am I the most cost-effective way of reducing the risk?

It will help you understand the information importance of the data you are seeking to protect and allow you to better understand the process of managing the information risk in the sense of protecting business needs.

Why perform a Cyber Risk Assessment?

There are a number of reasons you want to conduct a cyber risk assessment and a couple of reasons you need to do so. Let's talk them through:

Long-term cost reduction: detecting possible risks and weaknesses, and then working to minimize them, has the ability to avoid or eliminate security incidents that can save the company money and/or long-term reputational harm

Providing a information security risk assessment framework for future evaluations: information risk assessments are not one of the procedures, you need to monitor them regularly, having a successful first turn guarantees repeatable processes even with staff turnover.

Good organizational knowledge: Understanding organizational flaws gives you a good understanding of where you need to strengthen your organization

Avoid data breaches: data breaches can affect any company financially and reputationally.

Avoid compliance issues: Consumer data that is compromised because HIPAA, PCI DSS or APRA CPS 234 have not been complied with.

Avoid interruption of application: In-house or customer service systems must be available and operate for staff and consumers to do their jobs

Loss of data: theft of trade secrets, code or other key information assets may result in you losing your company to competitors

Therefore, cyber-risk assessments are central to knowledge risk management and the wider risk management policy of every company.

Who will do a Cyber Risk Assessment?

Your company preferably has in-house staff that can handle it. This means providing IT workers with an understanding of how the digital and network infrastructure operates, as well as managers who understand how information flows, and any specialized operational expertise that could be useful during evaluation. Organizational accountability is essential to a comprehensive evaluation of the cyber risk.

Small companies may not have the right people in-house to do a comprehensive job, so they may need to outsource a third party evaluation. Organizations often turn to cybersecurity tools to track their score for cybersecurity, avoid attacks, submit security questionnaires and reduce risk to third parties.

When to do a Cyber Risk Assessment?

Over the next sections we will start with a high-level overview and drill down into each stage. You need to understand what data you have, what resources you have and the importance of the data you are trying to protect before you do something to start evaluating and minimizing the risk. To answer the following questions, you may want to start by auditing your data:

Which data are we collecting?

Why and where do we store the data?

How do we secure the data and log it?

How long are we to hold the data?

Which does have access to the data internally and externally?

Is the place where we store the properly protected data? 

You would then want to specify the evaluation parameters. To get you started, here are a few good first questions:

Which is the intention of that evaluation?

What is the nature of the valuation?

Are there any goals or limitations that could influence the evaluation that I should be aware of?

To whom do I need access to all the information I need in the organization?

Which type of risk model does the company use to assess risk?

A couple of these are self-explanatory questions. What you really want to know is what you are going to be evaluating, who has the experience to adequately analyze, whether there are any regulatory guidelines or budget limitations that you need to be aware of.

Now let's look at what steps to take to complete a comprehensive cyber risk assessment, which will provide you with a blueprint for risk assessment.

Stage 1: Assess and Determine Information Value

Most companies don't have an infinite knowledge risk management budget so it's best to restrict the focus to the most important business properties.

To save time and money later, spend some time setting a norm to decide what an asset is important for. Many companies have financial value, legal status and market significance. When the standard is officially integrated into the information risk management strategy of the company, use it to identify each asset as important, significant or minor.

There are other questions you can ask about interest determination:

Are there any financial or legal penalties for the disclosure or destruction of this information?

How valuable to a competitor is that information?

Can the knowledge be recreated from scratch? How long would it take, and what the associated costs would be?

Will the loss of that knowledge impact sales or profitability?

Will this data lose impact on day-to-day business operations? Without that, will our workers work?

What would be the reputational harm leaked from that data?

Stage 2: Asset Identification and Prioritization

The first step is to identify assets for evaluating and deciding the scope of the assessment. This helps you to decide what properties to analyze. You do not want to analyze each house, employee, electronic records, business secret, car, and office equipment item. Know, not all properties are equal in value.

To build a list of all important properties, you need to collaborate with company users and the management. 

Phase 3: Threat Identification

Any vulnerability that could be exploited to breach security and cause harm or steal the organization's data is a threat. Although hackers, malware, and other risks to IT security are bearing in mind, there are several other threats:

Natural disasters: as well as any cyber intruder will kill floods, hurricanes , earthquakes, lightning and fire. Not only do you lose data but also servers. Consider of the risk of natural disasters when choosing between on-premise and cloud computing servers.

Device failure: Do the most important systems run on equipment of high quality? Will they have a good backup?

Human Error: Are your S3 buckets correctly designed to contain confidential information? Will the organisation's knowledge in malware , phishing and social manipulation is appropriate? Anyone can accidentally click on a connection to malware or enter their credentials in a phishing scam. Strong IT security controls are required including daily data backups, password managers, etc.

Adverse threats: third-party vendors, rivals, trusted rivals, protected insiders, collectives of hackers, ad hoc parties , corporate hacking, manufacturers, nation-states

Some common threats impacting each organisation, including:

Unauthorized access: from both attackers, malware, employee mistake

Data misuse by authorized users: usually an insider threat when data is changed, removed or used without authorisation

Data leaks: Personally identifiable information (PII) and other confidential data, through attackers or by weak cloud service configuration

Data failure: failure or unintended deletion of the data as part of bad backup or replication

Disruption of service: loss of income or reputational harm arising from downtime

After you recognize your organization's threats you will need to determine their effects.

Stage 4: Address vulnerabilities

Now it is time to switch from what "might" happen to what has an potential to happen. A vulnerability is a weakness that could be exploited by a attacker to breach security, damage the organization or steal sensitive information. Vulnerabilities are detected by vulnerability analysis, audit reports, vulnerability database at the National Institute for Standards and Technology ( NIST), vendor data, incident response teams, and security analysis of software.

With proper patch management, you can reduce organizational software-based vulnerabilities via automatic, forced updates. But don't ignore the physical limitations, having keycard access decreases the risk of anyone gaining access to the operating system of an organization.

Phase 5: Analyze and implement new controls

Analyze measures in place to reduce or remove the risk of a threat or vulnerability. Controls may be enforced by technological means such as hardware or software, encryption, intrusion detection systems, two-factor authentication, automatic updates, continuous monitoring of data leakage or through non-technical means such as security protocols and physical controls such as locks or access to keycards.

Tests should be graded as preventive or detective tests. Preventative controls aim to avoid attacks such as encryption, antivirus or continuous security monitoring, detective controls seek to figure out when an attack happens including continuous detection of access to the data.

Step 6: Measure the probability and effect of different scenarios each year

Now you know the importance of information, threats, vulnerabilities and controls, the next step is to assess how likely these cyber risks will occur and their effect if they occur. It's not only that you could be facing one of these incidents at some stage, but what opportunity it might be for success. You can then use these inputs to decide how much to spend on minimizing each of the cyber risks you found.

Imagine creating a database that holds all the most confidential details about your business and that details is priced at $100 million based on your assumptions.

You assume at least half of your data will be exposed in the event of a breach before it could be contained. This leads to an additional $50 m loss. But you expect this to happen rare, say one incident in fifty years. The result is an estimated $50 million loss every 50 years or annually, $1 million annually.

Arguably explaining the reduction of a $1 million budget per year.

Phase 7: Prioritize risk based on mitigation costs vs. the importance of information

Using risk level as a guideline to assess risk reduction measures for senior management or other responsible individuals. Here are a few general directives:

Strong-to implement corrective steps as soon as possible

Medium-Right steps established within a fair time period

Small-Decide whether to accept or minimize the risk

Remember, you've now calculated the asset's worth, and how much you can invest to secure it. The next move is simple: if it costs more than it is worth to protect the asset, it does not make sense to use a preventive measure to protect it. That said, note that not just financial impact may have a reputational effect, so it's also important to factor that in.

Phase 8: Record findings from study on risk assessment

The final step is the production of a risk evaluation report to assist management in budget, strategy and operational decision taking. The report will describe the risk, vulnerabilities and benefit for each hazard. Along with guidelines for effects and probability of occurrence and control.

As you work through this process, you can understand your company's resources, what is your most important data and how you can run and protect your business better. You can then develop a risk management strategy that determines what the company needs to do on a daily basis to track its security posture, how threats are handled and mitigated, and how the next risk assessment process should be carried out.

If you are a small business or multinational information risk management firm is at the heart of cybersecurity. Such systems help to develop rules and guidelines that provide answers to what risks and vulnerabilities might be causing financial and reputational harm to the company and how they are mitigated.

Ideally your cybersecurity score will increase as your security implementations progress and you respond to the quality of your current evaluation.