Cybersecurity has never been more important in today's digital world. Secure systems and networks are the pinnacles of protecting data, finances, identities, accounts, and any other private information. One of the first ways to enhance your cybersecurity is to analyze potential threats and vulnerabilities to create a better strategy.
The primary way to do this is to conduct a cyber risk assessment. Assessments help reduce long-term costs, organize data, prevent breaches and data loss, maintain online functions, and more. As a key component of risk management, cyber risk assessments offer the ultimate protection for your business now and in the future.
What Is a Cyber Risk Assessment?
A cyber risk assessment is used to identify, estimate, and prioritize the cyber risks that threaten the operations, assets, and information of an organization. Assessments are one of the only extensive ways to practice cyber attack prevention. Assessments are an essential tool to get ahead of problems and avoid private data being shared, identity theft, money loss, etc.
An adequate assessment should aim to answer questions including:
- What data breach would have the biggest impact on our business?
- What are the levels of impact, should there be a security breach?
- What are the most important technological assets we need to protect?
- What are both the internal and external vulnerabilities?
- What level of risk is the company willing to take? In what ways are we flexible versus rigid?
- What risk sources can be identified, and what safety measures do we have in place for unknown sources?
- How do we cost-effectively reduce risk?
What Is Included in a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment?
An assessment looks at the risks that can jeopardize your organization. Knowing the type of relevant threats starts by knowing what is at stake; what kind of assets do you use that are at risk? This could include software and other internal systems, hardware, customer data, financial accounts and information, laptops, intellectual property, or anything else that can be "hacked" and used against you.
How to Assess Your Cyber Risk
There are four main steps to a cybersecurity risk assessment as discussed below.
1. Determine Value
The first step is to determine the time and money your company can spend on risk mitigation and management. Going into a cybersecurity risk assessment without any set boundaries will create overwhelming and ineffective results. The same goes for the value of the assets you're looking at; set a standard of importance so that you can eliminate assets that don't need to be deeply considered. Create a scope of importance to inform your risk management policy.
2. Identify Threats and Weaknesses
The core of a cybersecurity risk assessment will involve finding potential threats to your security and the weaknesses that leave your business vulnerable. Understanding your infrastructure will be a key component of this step.
Threats may include hackers, malware, phishing scams, data leaks, cyber-attacks, human error, etc. There are also risks like competitors who prey on your data or strategy, natural disasters, or system failures. Common weaknesses or vulnerabilities can come from human error or misuse of information, poor system security, irregular or infrequent updates/audits, and overall poor security management.
3. Calculate Likelihood and Impact of Risks
Once you've identified the many potential threats and weaknesses that your organization faces, it's best to measure the impact that those risks would have on your business and how likely they are to happen. If you have significant vulnerabilities, the greater chances of losing something valuable are. Not only should you look at the likelihood of a breach happening, but you should also look at how successful that breach could be with your current protocols.
Finally, prioritize risks into levels of severity or seriousness, especially depending on cost, urgency, and value. If protecting an asset costs more than the asset's actual worth, it may not be a high priority or a priority at all unless it jeopardizes the reputation of the company.
- High — These threats require near-immediate action and corrective measures should be implemented as soon as possible.
- Moderate — While not as worrisome as high-level risks, moderate-level risks should be put into development and acted upon in a reasonable timeframe.
- Low — These risks should be further assessed to determine if they can be accepted as is or if there needs to be some kind of risk mitigation implemented.
Some organizations may consider this level of caution more of a concern for big companies because they seem to be likelier targets. However, small business cyber security is just as important—sometimes even more so. You may wonder why SMEs are a target for cybercriminals, but small businesses can be low-hanging fruit if they are left unprepared and unprotected.
How Acrisure Can Help
If you need to take a step in the right direction, Acrisure provides real-time vulnerability scans to help organizations understand the cyber risks that threaten their business. Plus, get AI-based security solutions for cyber threat prevention, detection, and response. You can start with an Acrisure risk assessment for your cybersecurity; we specialize in fast, accurate, and innovative cybersecurity that protects your business assets.
Also consider cyber insurance, a smart way to fill the gap between recognizing risks and preventing possible breaches. You can trust Acrisure Cyber Services to provide industry-leading coverage, risk management tools, and more. Contact us today for better cybersecurity.