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How to Perform a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

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How to Perform a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

Assessing your company’s data for cybersecurity risks lets an in-house or external IT team identify, estimate, and prioritize potential threats to organizational operations, assets, and networks. Cyber attacks may lead to crippling incidents that may inhibit organizations from doing specific tasks. Cybersecurity threat assessments help inform decision makers for them to create actionable strategies and perform solutions. The following are the steps to execute a cybersecurity risk check for your business.

review network resource How to Perform a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

1. Review Network Resources

A common mistake numerous decision makers do is to only audit resources that they think may be a potential risk. A cybersecurity risk assessment should check everything connected within the organization’s network. Many cyberattackers know better than to target a single entity in a business network.

For example, printers with the ability to connect to the Internet may serve as a storehouse for hidden malware. Connecting hard drives to the infected printer will help spread the virus to the computers within the network. As soon as the malicious software manages to reach one of the computers connected to the system, it may find its way to the organization’s servers.

Printers and other seemingly insignificant devices may seem like an unlikely place to start a cyber attack. It’s critical to think like a cyberattacker to make sure all devices in the network are safe from security threats.

identify potential threats How to Perform a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

2. Identify Potential Threats

Cybersecurity risks have two classifications: adversarial and non-adversarial. Cybersecurity awareness requires an organization’s IT staff to know the threats found in the right categories.

Adversarial threats are exploitable by third-party cyberattackers. A few examples are:

  • Individual attackers who may include trusted and privileged insiders
  • Cyber-attacking groups
  • Organizations hired by competitors for espionage
  • An entire nation

Non-adversarial threats, however, tend to come from regular users of the organization’s applications, websites, and software. Regular employees and administrative members may potentially harm the network because of negligence.

Weigh the intensity for risks found in either classification. Assess the abilities, intentions, and targeting opportunities of potential attackers for non-adversarial threats. For non-adversarial risks, weigh the potential damage to the network if an event harming the organization’s server structure may take place.

Identify vulnerabilities How to Perform a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

3. Identify Vulnerabilities

Vulnerabilities are different than risks. These elements are areas wherein cyberattackers can exploit to breach network security. Testing processes for the in-house IT system to identify weaknesses in the network may include:

  • Penetration testing procedures
  • Automated network vulnerability scanning equipment
  • Information Security Test and Evaluation (ST&E) protocols

Your in-house IT staff may reduce software-based network vulnerabilities by implementing patch management methods. Remember to consider hardware or physical weaknesses as well. For instance, flooding may cause physical damage to servers if kept in areas prone to this calamity. Moving the servers to a higher floor of the establishment will significantly help in reducing this tragedy from taking place.

Other ways to identify IT infrastructure vulnerabilities are:

  • Vendor data
  • Computer incident response teams
  • Audit reports
  • Vulnerability analyses
  • System software security analyses
Identify past threat events How to Perform a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

4. Gather Past Threat Events

Threat events are the actual cyber attacks that may potentially be carried out to infiltrate the organization’s IT network infrastructure. Gathering past threat events after looking at the potential threats, weaknesses, and cyberattackers will help the company protect its data. Your firm needs to define these incidents with a sufficient amount of information to complete the risk assessment.

The following are a few threats that may appear for organizations regardless of industry:

  • Unauthorized access

This cybersecurity risk may come from either adversarial or non-adversarial origins. It may potentially come from an attack, malicious software, or even a slight employee error.

  • Data leaks

Personal data or Personal Identifying Information (PII) are pieces of information that  may identify a specific individual from an organization. Attackers may breach this data at any time to alter, delete, or disclose it to a third-party or the public.

  • Data loss

Aside from spreading PII across a third-party or public domain, loss of data may occur when a cyber attack or in-house error deletes network information. This incident may stem from a botched backup or poor data replication procedure.

  • Information misuse

This threat comes from an insider issue. In-house staff members may accidentally or intentionally alter, delete, or use data without approval.Stay away from common cybersecurity misconceptions and rumors during an IT network assessment procedure. Take note of the steps to complete the assessment to check and double-check your in-house IT team’s work. Set expectations for all employees that it’s challenging to mitigate all potential hazards to your organization’s network. Still, failure to do assessment procedures is akin to handing your company to the hands of miscreants without a challenge.