Cybersecurity Risk Assessment
What is a cybersecurity risk?
A cybersecurity risk is any vulnerability that could be exploited and result in the business losing data or with compromised systems that result in service disruptions. Cybersecurity risks include anything that could compromise your systems like ransomware, malware, phishing, cyberattacks from external sources or data leaks or sabotage from the inside.
It is important to remember to differentiate between cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities. A vulnerability is a weakness that could potentially be exploited while a cybersecurity risk is what you will lose if that vulnerability is exploited.
Knowledge is Power
That is why you need a cybersecurity risk assessment?
It is impossible to combat cybersecurity issues without first understanding where your business is vulnerable. A cybersecurity risk assessment identifies the various information assets that could be affected by a cyberattack (such as hardware, systems, laptops, customer data, and intellectual property), and then identifies the various risks that could affect those assets.
A cybersecurity risk assessment reviews all the vulnerabilities and determining which vulnerabilities are likely to be exploited as well as the potential for damage to the business. Cybersecurity risks are categorized as either zero risk, low risk, medium risk, or high risks. This categorization is dependent the system vulnerability and the resulting damage from that vulnerability being exploited.
A cybersecurity risk assessment gives the business the ability to proactively defend themselves from cyberrisk. The key questions that the cybersecurity risk assessment answers are where is my business vulnerable, how would a cyberattack impact my business, and how do I fix the vulnerability?
If you can answer these questions, you can determine what to protect. This means you can develop IT security controls and data security strategies to mitigate risk. Before you can do that though, you need to answer the following questions:
Why should you perform a cybersecurity risk assessment?
Quite simply, it is not a matter or if you will be hacked, it is a matter of when. In order to minimize the potential damage to your business, you need to learn about your vulnerabilities, your risk, and understand how to prevent them.
What is the risk you are reducing?
This will ensure that you cover all aspects of loss mitigation – reducing the severity of a loss, reducing its frequency, and making it less likely to occur.
Are you reducing the risk in the most cost-effective way?
This will help you understand the information value of the data you are trying to protect and allow you to better understand the relative impacts of the mitigation options that are available to reduce risk.
Cybersecurity Risk Assessment Process
There are 3 main steps to a cybersecurity risk assessment: Identification, Analysis, and Documentation.
- Identify which data that you collect, and store is most valuable and in need of protection.
- Identify the asses that you need to protect. This can be physical assets like buildings or equipment or confidential information about your business processes that give you a competitive advantage.
- Identify vulnerabilities in your business that I person or entity could exploit to steal any of the items you previously identified
- Identify cyberthreats that could be used to exploit the vulnerabilities that you just identified.
- Analyze your current cybersecurity protocols for weakness and suggest remediation
- Analyze the probability of your vulnerabilities being exploited
- Set priorities based on the risk, the impact, and the cost to protect your information an assets
The last step of the cybersecurity risk assessment is to document your findings in a report. This report should contain a recommended action plan to protect the identified data and assets. This will help the company’s executives justify the budget for cybersecurity measures and policies.
Once everything is documented you can move on to the next step: Cybersecurity Risk Mitigation