Read the full guide on cybersecurity risk assessments here →
What is a cybersecurity risk assessment?
A cybersecurity risk assessment is the analysis of your company assets and procedures to identify gaps that could make you vulnerable to a cyber-attack.
Once you have identified those gaps, you can then rank them from highest and most immediate threat to least.
This will allow your organization to go perform your risk mitigation process in order of importance, saving critical resources and maximizing efficiency.
How to perform a cyber security risk assessment of your business
Follow these 5 vital guidelines when conducting your assessment:
1. Figure out the scope of your assessment
This will be a lesson in thoroughness. You will need to identify every asset that will be evaluated to accurately determine the full scope of the project.
We would recommend starting small with a single asset type and moving systematically through in that fashion.
Once you have chosen your asset type, you will need to figure out any other devices or information it touches in any way.
Take your time on this step of the process as this will ensure you are getting a comprehensive look at your entire network. Cutting corners here could mean critical vulnerabilities being unintentionally ignored.
2. Determine the value of each asset
Once you have completed step 1, it’s time to talk value.
It’s important to remember that the value of an asset likely extends beyond just the cost of the hardware/software. Consider the intangible cost of an asset and the cost of the loss of an asset to your business.
Typically we find most assets’ actual value extends well beyond the expectation. We live in an interconnected world and your business is no different.
For each asset, gather specific information where applicable such as software, hardware, end-users, purpose, criticality, and any security policies in place.
3. Identify gaps in your security
This is where a lot of the complexity comes in. It is nearly impossible to do this without having a background in cyber security or information security.
What you are going to want to do is calculate the likelihood of various business loss scenarios. Essentially you are looking to identify security holes, calculate the impact that an exploit would have on your organization, and mitigate those risks.
The most common threats that affect every organization typically include:
- Unauthorized access: from attackers, malware, or employee error.
- Misuse of info by authorized users: data may be altered, deleted, or used without approval.
- Leaked data: identifiable information being leaked intentionally by attackers or unintentionally by poorly configured systems.
- Business disruption: loss of revenue/reputation damage due to business downtime.
4. Perform an info value vs cost of prevention analysis
This is the way you figure out what to prioritize first and what is most immediately beneficial.
What we are looking for is to assess the importance of securing a category of your data compared to the relative cost for your company to do so.
To do this, you take the likelihood of a threat and its potential impact against the cost of preventing it and compare them against each other. We can then produce a plan for which holes need to be patched first.
Something to remember is that the impact of a cybersecurity incident extends beyond just money. It is common for a brand’s reputation to be negatively affected after suffering from a cyber incident. Take this into consideration when performing your information value vs cost of prevention analysis.
5. Establish security controls (and continuously monitor them)
Once again, this is a complex task requiring multiple skill sets to complete and do well. The key here is continuous monitoring of security controls.
Threat actors aren’t static threats, they are constantly finding the newest vulnerability/angle to attack from. To stay ahead of the curve you have to constantly monitor and adjust your threat mitigation strategies.
A good practice is to update your cybersecurity assessment roughly once per year.
6. Document your findings!
This report doesn’t mean a lot if you cant reference it later. This report will serve as an invaluable tool you can use to develop new (and more effective) security practices.
You can also use your report as a training tool for new hires coming into your organization.
Take your time here. Meticulously organize your findings, you won’t regret it.