Cybersecurity risks have been more of a concern for companies, regardless of scale, over the last few years. While technology has made it easier to do business for most, if not all, industries, the advancements are not without their drawbacks. More technological upgrades mean more ways for malicious individuals to exploit weaknesses in the network.
Cybersecurity risks and threats are nothing to bat an eye on. According to statistics, the global average cost of a successful breach clocks in at a whopping $3.86 million – almost $150 per stolen information. Unsurprisingly, more companies are investing in cybersecurity efforts that safeguard their assets and minimize the effects of an attack.
Knowing the status quo and studying the enemies are critical steps in preventing costly damages when it comes to cybersecurity. In this article, we explore the importance of cyber risk assessments, including actionable steps to take and best practices in fortifying a network.
What is Cybersecurity Risks Assessment?
Cybersecurity risks are an inevitable part of investing in digital assets. These risks can come in many forms. From ransomware to malware attacks, these threats can wreak havoc on day-to-day operations and the reputation of a business as a whole.
Cybersecurity risks assessment is defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology or NIST as:
“Risk assessments are used to identify, estimate, and prioritize risk to organizational operations, organizational assets, individuals, other organizations, and the Nation, resulting from the operation and use of information systems.”
This cybersecurity tool aims to equip key decision-makers with the cybersecurity information needed to create network security protocols. Cyber risk assessments provide a detailed report on the current state of affairs, the possible threats, and the best practices that safeguard a network’s integrity.
5 Reasons to Perform Regular Cybersecurity Risks Assessments
Depending on the software and the third-party program you choose for your company, cyber risk assessments are an investment. Aside from the upfront costs, downtown can be expected. Nevertheless, the benefits that cybersecurity risk assessments provide are invaluable. Below are a few reasons to prioritize this security measure:
- Provide Better Understanding of Your Digital Assets and Networks
As far as cybersecurity is concerned, the more aware you are of your cybersecurity protocols, the better prepared you would be in cases of attacks. Risk assessments provide a complete picture of your network and the potential attacks most likely to exploit its weaknesses.
- Avoid Data Breaches
The impact of a data breach, even for small and medium businesses, can be outstanding. Being aware of the lay of the land prevents instances of violations and minimizes possible damages from an attack.
- Avoid Downtime
Aside from financial losses, a breach can cause significant downtime on your network. This downtime can affect your team’s productivity, customer perception of your brand, and overall bottom line.
- Avoid Regulation Violations
The constant stream of available data has prompted the government to provide guidelines for what companies can do with the information they possess. These regulations also hold businesses liable for any breach.
- Prevent Data Loss
Data is essential to businesses because it gives them the edge over competitors. If a breach is successful, perpetrators might sell your information to competitors for a hefty price. As such, forgoing a cyber risk assessment can lead to losing out on significant deals.
6 Steps to Protecting Your Network through Cybersecurity Risks Assessments
There are various ways to conduct a cybersecurity risks assessment. The specific needs of a business and the scale of your operation determine the steps involved in the process. Here are typical steps most assessments cover:
- Audit Your Network
The first step in most cyber risk assessments involves auditing the current state of the network. This process entails identifying the specific data your business collects, how your operation stores data, and the steps you take to protect the information in your system.
- Prioritize Digital Assets
Most companies have a limited budget for cybersecurity. This is doubly true for small and medium operations. As such, the assets that need to be assessed are vital to maximizing this security tool. At the end of the day, while it is ideal to check the entire network framework, there is merit in prioritizing valuable data.
- Identify Weak Points
Identifying your network’s vulnerabilities is crucial to creating security standards and mitigating the effects of an attack. Network vulnerabilities come in many forms. Nevertheless, hackers can exploit any type of weak point to gain access to sensitive information.
- Identify Possible Threats
Aside from identifying weak points, determining possible threats also informs how a company formulates its breach and attack protocol. Like data, not all threats are created equal. The likelihood of occurrence and the severity of an attack are factors to consider when identifying risk.
- Analyze Network Security Risks Protocols
Most companies already have cybersecurity guidelines in place. However, over the years, attacks have become more sophisticated. The effects of breaches have become more severe and challenging to mitigate.
That said, reviewing your current security risk protocols against your network’s recent weakness and the possible risks threatening your operation is imperative. It is the first step in creating new guidelines that are sufficient to protect against the latest threats.
- Document Results for Future Assessments
The final step in most cyber risk assessments involves creating a full report on the process discovery. This report includes the identified threats, the possible solutions to risks, the impact of an attack, and the value of the data within the system. This report should provide enough information to support critical decision-makers in creating programs to strengthen cybersecurity measures. More than guidelines, complete documentation is also vital to future assessments. It provides a jumping-off point for scheduled analysis.
Identifying possible risks and knowing where your company’s cybersecurity protocols fare are the first two steps in ensuring the cybersecurity health of your company. It is an integral part of protecting your investments.
Nevertheless, it shouldn’t stop there.