LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS
cybersecurity risk assessment
jessica murray, account manager
A cybersecurity risk assessment is used to identify information assets that may be targeted by cyberattacks. It also helps you assess the current state of your organization’s cybersecurity and evaluate potential threats to your data. Ultimately, an assessment will inform decision-makers and help them develop preventative measures and policies to address the risks.
Why is a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment Necessary?
Whether your company is large or small, you’ll find a cybersecurity risk assessment useful. Conducting a risk assessment can help you safeguard against cyberattacks and prevent your financial information, private customer information, and other sensitive data from being compromised.
Some benefits of a cybersecurity risk assessment are:
- It increases your awareness of the vulnerabilities in your system and helps you understand where you need to improve
- It leads to long-term cost reduction
- It might be necessary for obtaining cyber insurance
- It might be mandated by law
How to Perform a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment
Let’s dive into the main steps involved in cybersecurity risk assessment:
Characterize the System
The first step is to characterize your system. This includes identifying all your company’s digital assets and deciding on the scope of the assessment based on the value of the assets. This will help you determine the threats you face and prioritize which assets to assess. Ask the following questions to characterize your system:
- What is the system?
- What kind of data does it use?
- What vendors do you use for your system?
- What internal and external interfaces does the system use?
- Who uses the system? (List every user)
- Where and how does the information come and go?
The next step is to analyze potential threats to your company’s systems and data. You need to identify potential sources of risk, and why and how vulnerabilities might occur.
Common threats include hackers, malware, cybercriminals, competitors, employees, natural disasters, system failure, and human error. Some common cybersecurity issues include:
- Unauthorized access
- Misuse of information
- Data leaks or breaches
- Data loss
- Service disruption
After you identify the threats to your cybersecurity, you also need to evaluate their impact.
Threats include everything that “could” happen. For accurate risk assessment, however, you also need to identify your system’s weaknesses or vulnerabilities. To find these, you can conduct vulnerability analyses, audit reports, or software security analyses.
Rate the impact of risks
The next step is to determine the impact on your system if a threat was exercised: this is called an impact rating. Impact ratings include:
- High – substantial impact
- Medium – damaging or inconvenient but recoverable impact
- Low – minimal or negligible impact
Analyze the controls
Now it’s time to analyze the controls you have in place to minimize or mitigate threats and vulnerabilities. Controls include:
- Hardware or software
- Intrusion detection
- Two-factor authentication
- Automatic updates
- Physical mechanisms like locks
Control assessment can be rated on a scale from inadequate to satisfactory.
Determine the likelihood rating and overall risk rating
Once you’ve identified the threats and vulnerabilities to your cybersecurity, assigned an impact rating, and analyzed your controls, you can rate the likelihood of risks occurring and how they may affect the system. You can rate the likelihood as high, medium, or low. Then, you can calculate the overall risk rating using your impact rating and likelihood rating. The rating can be severe, elevated, or low.
Implement and monitor new security controls
After calculating and pinpointing the risks to your data security, the final step is to implement and monitor your new controls and reevaluate identified risks. It might include strengthening your passwords, restricting employee access to data, updating your encryption systems, or hiring a third-party security team.
Conducting a cybersecurity risk assessment is important if you want to safeguard your data from threats effectively. Since new threats can arise at any time, it is vital that you conduct these assessments regularly. This might seem like a daunting process, especially if it’s to be a regular occurrence, but it doesn’t have to be!
Lutz Tech can lend you the expertise needed to reduce the cost and stress involved in this crucial process. If you have any questions or need any assistance, feel free to contact us!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JESSICA MURRAY + ACCOUNT MANAGER
Jessica Murray is an Account Manager at Lutz Tech. She has over 5 years of experience in the technology field. Jessica is a trusted advisor that sees clients through the full sales cycle. Her responsibilities include developing proposals and providing recommendations to clients to assist them in reaching their business goals.
AREAS OF FOCUS
- Client Relations
- BS in Management Information Systems, Briar Cliff University, Sioux City, IA
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