6 Steps To Performing A Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

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6 Steps To Performing A Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

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While cybersecurity regulations are standardised for use by all institutions, some organisations find it difficult to comply with all the requirements. The difficulties arise due to differences in size and operation strategies.

For example, a multinational company will have more departments for assessment than a mid-sized company.

Nevertheless, it’s necessary to conduct a risk assessment and ensure that your business abides by all the requirements of regulatory bodies. One of the surest approaches that you can adopt is breaking down the regulations into small and manageable tasks. Below are some helpful tips:

Step 1: Constitute a Risk Management Team

You will not achieve your compliance needs if you work alone. Always ensure that you form crucial alliances that will give insights on every stage. The cross-sectional approach ensures that you incorporate individuals from all the departments which provides an all-inclusive risk analysis. Your team should at least have the following members:

●     A representative of senior management for oversight

●     Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for review of the company’s network

●     Marketing Representative to give details of all the information collected and stored during the marketing

●     Privacy Officer to aid in identifying personally identifiable information (PII) available in the organisation

●     Human Resources team to work together with privacy officer to protect the company’s PPI

●     Product Management team to ensure that the product development process comply with regulatory standards

●     Manager for Individual Business Lines

Step 2: Catalogue Information Assets

Cataloguing the information in an institution gives a clear image of all the information that your organisation collects, stores, and transfers. It analyses the data that passes through Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS).

During the analysis, various departments assess the trustworthiness of all the vendors to ensure that they do not subject the data to risks. During the evaluation, you should ensure that you answer these questions:

●     Which information do departments collect and where is it stored?

●     Where are the vendors collecting the information from?

●     Where it is stored and what is are the transmission channel?

●     Which vendors are used by each department and which information does each vendor access?

●     Do you have authentication methods before getting data?

●     Where are the exact locations for data storage in your business?

●     Is the physical location of data storage safe?

●     Who accesses the data?

●      Do you have remote workers accessing data?

●     Which devices and networks are allowed to access/transmit the information?

●     Which server collects, stores, and transmit information?

Step 3: Assess Risk

Some information is critical for your business, and you should thus scrutinise the authenticity of every vendor that can access the information. You’ll achieve the risk assessment process by answering the following:

●     What are the critical networks, software, and systems for running daily business operations?

●     Have you classified the information whose integrity, confidentiality, and availability should be protected?

●     Which personally identifiable information does your organisation collect, store, or transfer and should be anonymised to prevent a breach in case of encryption failure?

●     What is the probability of data corruption and which devices expose your data to fraudulent activities?

●     What are the key areas that cybercriminals may target in your business?

●     What will be the reputation and financial risk of a data breach?

●     Will a cybersecurity attack impair the operations of your organisation entirely?

●     What are the mechanisms of rectifying a cybersecurity attack?

●     What is your business continuity plans in case of a cyberattack?

The catalogue will classify the information based on the risks, the ease of risk management, and the methodology of mitigating the risks.

Step 4: Analyse the Risk

To conduct an elaborate risk analysis, you should consider the following:

●     Probability of occurrence

●     Impact on finances, reputation, and the overall operations of the organisation

Multiplying the probability by the impact will give you the organisation's tolerance level. This step is critical when making the decision on whether to accept, reject, transfer, or mitigate the risks. For example, collecting financial data from your clients may have adverse effects on reputation and finances in case of a breach. As such, you may consider transferring the risk to a vendor.

Step 5: Setting Security Controls

Some of the controls that you should have in your organisation include:

●     Firewall configuration

●     Network segregation

●     Password protocols

●     At-rest and in-transit encryption

●     Workforce training

●     Anti-malware and anti-ransomware techniques

●     Multi-factor authentication

●     Vendor risk management software

When you institute these controls, you’ll significantly reduce the chances of data breach, thus improving the compliance and performance of every department in your business.

Step 6: Monitor and Review the Effectiveness

The increased use of technology by cybercriminals calls for dynamic strategies to protect your organisation's data. You should ensure that you have a continuous risk management software that will guarantee easy detection of threats.

Also, ensure that you develop risk mitigation processes that will effectively address the problem before it causes irreversible damage to the business' image, finances, and operations.

Ken Lynch is an enterprise software startup veteran and founder of Reciprocity.Ken earned his BS in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT.

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6 Steps To Performing A Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

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