Cyber Security Risk Assessment Methodology

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By Ken Lynch

Businesses meet risks every day. For business owners, this is not something new, especially in the digital world. Today, nearly every organization depends on information systems and IT to run a business. The only proper way to secure the company is by managing risks, and to get there, you need to conduct a risk evaluation.

Cyber Security Risk Assessment Methodology

Often business owners find a risk assessment process as daunting and inconvenient. But, when you conduct a Cyber risk assessment, you make sure there is business survival by protecting it from threats. Here are steps you should follow to help you reduce risks cost-effectively.

Step 1: Create a Risk Management Team

One huge mistake business owners make is assuming they are Cyber-superheroes. It is impossible to keep up with every ongoing activity happening inside the organization that is why setting up alliances within the organization helps you to stay alert for threats. Having a team not only helps you to gather information on the firm’s overall risk profile, but it also becomes simpler to communicate risks and to carry out a holistic analysis. When creating a team, make sure it comprises of the following individuals:

  • Senior Management- to confirm the oversight
  • Chief Information Security Officer- to view network architecture
  • Privacy Officer- to track personally identifiable information
  • Marketing- to compare notes on data gathered and stored
  • Product Management- to guarantee product security during the development cycle
  • Human Resources- to share their judgment on employee personally identifiable information
  • Head of Each Leading Business Line- to examine total data across the company

Step 2: Catalog Information Assets

Having an inter-department team ensures that you record assets data. Sure enough, you know what your organization collects, transfers and stores. But do you fully comprehend the PaaS (Platform-as-a-service), SaaS (Software-as-a-service), and the IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-service) that the other departments are using?

It is possible that other departments may use SaaS vendors who can leave your data susceptible to risks. A third-party vendor stands as one of the significant risks of a data breach. So, it is necessary to keep vigilant of data by asking questions such as these:

  • What information is accessible to vendors?
  • Where is the data stored?
  • Which databases store info?
  • Where do they garner the material?
  • Which networks transmit data? Etc.

Step 3: Assess Risks

Information varies in comparison. You certainly can’t have all data holding the same importance as the other. Also, not every vendor takes seriousness in securing data.  With that in mind, you have a responsibility to scrutinize every probable risk that vendors and information may pose to the business. A few questions to help you make a proper analysis are like:

  • What are the possibilities of data distortion?
  • Which devices get vulnerable to the risk of data loss?
  • If the potential risk occurs on the business, do you have a backup plan to get you up and running again?
  • What is the probable reputation, financial and business operational risk that may arise from a data breach?
  • Which software, systems, and networks are likely to be a target for a data breach? Etc.

Considering every location vulnerable to cybercrime is necessary. The risk assessment operation does just that by collecting info from your asset catalog and trying to examine such points. You can never go wrong when conducting a Cyber-security risk assessment because you will go through the entire company’s data, plus you will explore the impact it has on your firm.

Step 4: Analyze the risk

There are two significant aspects to consider when analyzing risk; probability and impact. Probability is the likelihood that a cybercriminal can get information. The impact is the effect that the data event can have on your firm’s operational, financial, and reputational stance. When you multiply the two, it will be easy to find the firm’s risk tolerance level. From there you can choose, depending on the level, to mitigate, accept, avoid, or transfer risk.

Step 5: Set Security Controls

When you have determined the way to deal with the risk, the next step is setting security controls. Security controls are a critical aspect of risk assessment operations. They take into account:

  • Workforce training
  • Password protocols
  • Network segregation
  • Firewall configuration
  • Vendor risk management program

The way you set your controls matters a lot. For instance, if you set up a series of controls to secure your infrastructure, you need to make sure that the third-party business associates and the vendor risk management program coordinate with your information security standpoint.

Step 6: Check and Review the Effectiveness

As malicious actors continue to evolve new methodologies to hinder security controls effectiveness, you need to set up risk management programs that watch IT environments for new threats. Thus, make sure that the risk analysis is flexible to counter any new threats effectively.

Ken Lynch is an enterprise software startup veteran, who has always been fascinated about what drives workers to work and how to make work more engaging. Ken founded Reciprocity to pursue just that. He has propelled Reciprocity’s success with this mission-based goal of engaging employees with the governance, risk, and compliance goals of their company in order to create more socially minded corporate citizens. Ken earned his BS in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT.  Learn more at ReciprocityLabs.com.

Cyber risk stock photo by ImageFlow/Shutterstock

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