In today’s time, almost all organizations are enabled with internet connectivity and IT infrastructure and therefore these organizations are exposed to cybersecurity risk even more. In this case, cybersecurity risk assessment becomes a very important function in any organization as it determines the gravity of the particular risk and also helps in managing that risk. Moreover, assets could also be identified which are under great threat of cyber attack through this risk assessment exercise. This risk assessment is conducted to assess only cyber threats and not the risk related to natural disasters like floods, fires, etc. The only way to reduce money-motivated cyber incidents like data breaches and other cyber attacks is by mitigating the risk identified during the risk assessment exercise. When these risks are mitigated, it reduces the organization’s regulatory and compliance issues as well. This assessment process creates a risk-aware culture in a particular organization.
What is cybersecurity risk assessment?
Cybersecurity risk assessment means analyzing, and evaluating risks by identifying all the assets or resources in the organization exposed in cyberspace and the associated cybersecurity risk prevailing in these assets. This risk assessment also enables organizations to determine the level of risk and appropriateness of the current tools and techniques applied to prevent any cybersecurity risk. The risk assessment raises risk awareness among the employees or workers working in the organization and encourages them to adopt best security practices.
5 easy steps to perform a cybersecurity risk assessment
The following are the most effective and productive risk assessment steps:
1.Determine the risk assessment scope
The first and foremost step is to make sure all the personnel of the organization involved in this assessment process are aware of its terminology and functionality. Before initiating this assessment process organization should have the support of all the stakeholders or departments and they should also assign an independent third party as an expert to conduct this assessment process to ensure a free and fair assessment. These third parties are usually certified or authorized to conduct these types of assessments by the regulatory bodies established to ensure the best security standards in the particular industry.
2.Identify and prioritize assets
The next step is to identify and map all the assets or resources in the organization prone to such cybersecurity risk. The assessor can plan out the assessment in the whole organization or on a specific unit or location. To identify the risk better assessor can also draw not necessarily a network architecture diagram from the assets and the inventory as well as the entry point of the network.
3.Analyze the risk and determine the potential impacts
In this step, organizations analyze the various likelihood of risk identified and they rated high to low according to the exploitability, reproducibility, and discoverability of threats and vulnerability.
Examples of ratings:
High – When the threat source is immune from any security control in place and capable of executing the threat.
Medium- When the threat source is not immune from any security controls in place but still capable of executing the threat effectively.
Low- When the threat source is not immune from any security control which is in place and also it is not capable of executing the threat effectively.
4.Determining or calculating and prioritizing the risk
Now the organization will use a risk matrix to calculate the risk and prioritize them accordingly i.e., severe to low. The most commonly used matrix is 5*5.
Impact (if exploited) * likelihood (of exploit in the assessed control environment) = risk rating
The risk assessed should be addressed according to their severity. Few actions must be taken to mitigate these risks assessed like discontinuation of an activity that has a tendency to create more risk than benefits, there is another way by sharing some part of the risk with other departments or personnel, and the most effective way to control the effects of the risks is to deploy the security controls over the networks or resources prone to cyber-attacks.
5.Keep an account or document the risks
The assessor should make a report of all the steps discussed above undertaken by him. The main objective behind this step is to keep track of the risk prevailing in the organization and to make sure that management is aware of the risk assessed. This report consists of risk identification date, risk scenarios, the security measures at present, the risk level, the treatment plan, cyber security measures, the residual risk, and further resonating with the risk scenarios.
A cyber security assessment is a routine process in any organization nowadays as it helps in preventing any organization from being attacked by cybercriminals. And to mitigate the risk of new ways of cyberattacks by implementing the best security standards, regular assessments of these new techniques are necessary. Altogether healthy organization builds a healthy business and a healthy business comes at a cost of trust, and competitive advantage over its competitors. An organization can easily lose its trust among its customers and competitive advantage when its cybersecurity measures are not compatible or sufficient with current innovative ways of cyberattacks. This cybersecurity risk assessment is one of the ways to ensure that the organization is healthy i.e., free from any cyber risk.
Author : Risk Assessment – Mr. Ishaan Rai, Intern, CyberPeace Foundation