Cybercrime is projected to cost the world around $6 trillion by 2021. The digital age has brought with it a plethora of malign actors.
Hackers, social engineers, identity thieves, scammers, extortionists, and other cybercriminals are taking advantage of the internet to disrupt businesses and individuals.
Despite the rapid increase in cybercrime, many companies still don’t have a concrete cybersecurity plan.
There is no quick-fix when it comes to defending against cybercrime. Today, cybersecurity is no longer just an IT department problem. Every individual in the organization needs to be accountable for cybersecurity. To keep your company safe and protect your critical systems, you need to perform a risk assessment. Here’s a guide on cyber risk assessment.
What Is Risk Assessment
In the cyber world, risk assessment is a procedure undertaken to identify cybersecurity risks and plan for a proper response. It helps an organization to recognize relevant threats, internal and external vulnerabilities, and the weaknesses that are most likely to be exploited.
Why You Should Perform The Assessment
The primary goal of the assessment is to provide decision-makers with information that will help them develop and implement the correct risk mitigation strategies. When you are unaware of the risks, it’s impossible to create a watertight security strategy. Other critical reasons for performing the analysis include preventing long term costs, protecting your organization’s reputation, improving your processes, producing a template for future assessments, reducing security incidences, and complying with regulatory requirements.
Who Should Conduct The Assessment
The assessment should preferably be conducted by in-house IT professionals who have extensive knowledge of the organization’s digital and network infrastructure. Senior leaders with an understanding of the company’s inner workings should also be involved. Organizations that don’t have in-house IT experts need to partner with a cyber risk assessment firm or professional. Various advanced tools are also helping organizations to perform risk assessments and monitor their cyberspace.
How To Perform A Cyber Risk Assessment
Experts recommend that you should perform a risk assessment at least once every two years. Here are the steps to take when conducting a risk assessment.
1. Identify And Prioritize Assets
Your organization needs first to determine what to protect. Locate and classify your assets, starting from the most important to the least critical. The assets can be data, applications, networks, or systems. To determine the value of any asset in your organization, gauge the financial and legal implications of losing the asset, ask yourself if a loss of the asset will interrupt your business’ day to day activities, consider the reputational damage if critical data is leaked, and the extent of the damage that can occur when your competitor gets their hands on your data. After doing a valuation, create a list of mission-critical assets. To make sure nothing is left out, involve the management and other employees.
2. Identify Threats
The assets you have will determine the type of threat you will face. Threats are any weaknesses that can be used by criminals to access your assets. Some of the risk companies encounter include malware attacks, cyber intrusions, misuse of data by internal employees, accidental and intentional data leaks, unintentional loss of data, corporate espionage from rival companies, system failure, and natural calamities.
3. Rate The Impact Of These Risks
Some risks can cause more damage than others if they occur. To determine the severity of each risk, measure the impact every threat can have on your critical assets. If the effects are significant, rate that risk as high. If the effects are moderate, label that risk as average. For low impact risks, label them as insignificant. This step allows you to focus your efforts on risks that are more sensitive.
4. Analyze The Control Environment
You need to rate the effectiveness of your current controls. Measure the performance of the various controls that are in place around your organization, including the administration controls, authentication controls, current risk management controls, and data security controls.
5. Determine a Risk Likelihood Rating
The next step is to identify how likely a risk is to occur and the impact of the threat on your infrastructure. Some risks are common but less threatening, while others are rare but dangerous. Evaluating the likelihood of risks will help you know what to expect and plan for. Also, assess the potential for success in the event the threat happens.
6. Implement And Monitor New Security Controls
After identifying critical assets, recognizing main threats, calculating the likelihood, and rating the impact, document the results, and then give your organization’s cybersecurity an overall risk grade. Now, use this assessment to eradicate the threats. Depending on the grade, you can take measures such as using reliable firewalls and antivirus tools, updating software and operating systems, training employees, and establishing new rules. After implementing the new controls, conduct another risk assessment to make more improvements.
Cyber attacks are increasingly evolving and getting more sophisticated. A single breach can cripple your company, damage your reputation, land you in legal trouble, and even force you to close down. To protect your organization from digital criminals, make sure you conduct regular risk assessments.