Although digitization has created new commercial opportunities, especially for small and mid-sized companies, it has also given rise to a number of cyberthreats. Data breaches and ransomware penetration are common cyberattacks that have devastating repercussions for companies and their customers.

The global average cumulative cost of a data breach was $3.86 million, according to IBM’s 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Study. According to the survey, 70% of respondents assumed that working remotely would increase the cost of a data breach, which became a major security issue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cybercriminals are increasingly targeting small and mid-sized companies as cyberthreats become more popular and costly. SMBs are easy targets since their cyber security controls are either limited or non-existent. According to Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report, small business victims accounted for 28% (nearly one-third) of all breaches.

The bottom line is that your business network needs a rigorous cyber security evaluation. We’ll go over everything you need to know about cyber security assessment in this quick guide, starting with what it means.

What Is Cyber Security Assessment and How Does It Work?

The process of defining, reviewing, assessing, and prioritising your organization’s assets, information (data), activities, persons, and applications that may be affected by cyberthreats is known as cyber security risk assessment. The main aim of a cybersecurity assessment is to find security flaws and develop effective risk mitigation strategies. It is based on the idea that “prevention is better than treatment.”

You’ll probably end up enforcing security measures against incidents that are unlikely to happen to your company if you don’t conduct a proper cyber security risk assessment. This could result in a huge waste of time and money, particularly for small businesses that already have limited resources.

In the other hand, you could be unaware of the true threats to your IT network, which may result in a data breach or ransomware attack. As a result, proper cyber security risk management is the foundation of all modern companies, big and small.

Cyber Security Risk Assessment’s Advantages

When done correctly, cyber security risk management will provide the company with a number of advantages. The following are some of the most common advantages of IT evaluation.

1. Regulatory Obesity

Many governments and regulatory agencies have established strict cyber security regulations and laws in response to the ever-increasing risks of cyberthreats. Lack of regulatory enforcement can put your company in hot water in many countries, including the United States.

Many laws, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Data Protection Act of 2018 (DPA), and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), mandate that companies conduct cyber security risk assessments. As regulations tighten in various countries, comprehensive risk assessments will ensure you stay one step ahead of your competitors and regulators.

2. Threat Protection that is Highly Targeted

An in-depth understanding of your organisation, its work culture, business goals, and IT climate is provided by a comprehensive cyber security risk assessment. As a consequence, risk management, along with cyber protection initiatives, will help you increase your efficiency, connectivity, and revenue. This will allow you to outperform your competitors.

3. Lower Chances of Data Loss

The first step toward implementing a proactive IT strategy, which focuses on mitigating threats and vulnerabilities until they compromise your data, is to conduct a cyber security risk assessment. When compared to break-and-fix IT, this strategy significantly decreases the chance of data loss.

4. Cyber-Protection That Isn’t Expensive

IT risk management is a cost-effective way to improve your cyber protection because it helps you to detect security weaknesses and possible threats before they cause harm. Depending on the results of the evaluation, you will be able to find a suitable option that best suits your budget and security requirements. That’s why the majority of managed services providers advise conducting a comprehensive IT audit.

5. Risks and Security Measures Recorded

Another advantage to risk management is that it allows you to keep track of different threats, weaknesses, and protection measures. This log will help you figure out which security measures succeeded and which ones didn’t, so you can keep improving your network’s security as new threats arise. Based on real-time monitoring, you will continue to improve the security controls.

The Cyber Security Risk Assessment Process

To say the least, the process of assessing cyber security risk is difficult. Various steps and elements will be required depending on the size and complexity of your IT network. The following are the most common steps in the cyber security evaluation process.

1. Determine the IT Security Goals and Requirements

The first step is to establish your IT security goals and needs. When discussing overall cyber security enhancements for your computer network, you can write down precisely what you want to do. To better understand your security needs, talk to your staff, various department heads, and even your customers.

2. Make a List of Your Assets and Prioritize Them

Servers, confidential personal and commercial details, trade secrets, financial records, legal and other documents, and the website are all common components of a business computer network.

Identifying these assets is easy, but prioritizing them is more difficult. Your marketing lead does not consider what your tech support guy considers business-critical. As a result, make sure to collect as much information as possible about the estate. To get you started, here’s a list.

  • Consider the following factors when prioritising your assets:
  • Specifications for hardware and applications
  • Specifications for functionality and efficiency
  • requirements for users and support
  • Requirements for physical and cyber security
  • Network topology and architecture

3. Make a List of Potential Threats

You’ll need to recognise possible threats after you’ve identified and prioritised your properties. The following are the most common threats:

Floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, landslides, explosions, and other natural disasters are examples of natural disasters. They have the ability to devastate your infrastructure.

Cyberattacks such as data breaches, ransomware, phishing, and social engineering are common examples of external threats. According to research, external actors will be responsible for approximately 70% of data breaches in 2020.

Internal Threats: By 2020, 30% of data breaches will be caused by internal actors. They may involve disgruntled ex-employees who are attempting to damage your network on purpose. However, your current employees can delete data or open an email connection by mistake, resulting in a data breach. When designing your risk management strategy, you must consider all of these possibilities.

Hardware and Power Failure: You must determine the degree of risk associated with hardware and power failure. Hardware that has been well-maintained and updated is less likely to malfunction. Having a power backup may also be beneficial in the event of a power outage.

4. Identify Security Vulnerabilities or Gaps

This encompasses not just software or programs, but also human and physical weaknesses. Leaving your server room unlocked, for example, may expose it to internal attacks. Be sure to assess the security of your office and hardware.

There are several automated vulnerability scanning tools available to assist you in identifying software flaws. To detect possible security holes, most managed IT providers use different approaches such as penetration testing and network auditing.

5. Recognize and Assess Current Security Measure

You must also find and review current security measures in addition to finding vulnerabilities. Both technological and non-technical protection measures should be assessed. Checking applications such as antimalware, firewalls, email authentication, and data encryption fall under the first category. Examining the current cyber security policy, incident response strategy, and physical security is part of the latter.

6. Evaluate the Attack’s Possibility

Once you’ve identified the current weaknesses and protection measures, you’ll need to determine the likelihood of an actual assault. Most businesses categorise possible threats into three categories: strong, medium, and low.

7. Determine the Potential Threat Consequences

The next logical step is to determine what will happen if an attack occurs. Due to the fact that nearly 86 percent of breaches in 2020 were financially driven, most businesses should concentrate on the financial implications of an assault. However, you must also understand the effect on your brand’s reputation, as well as the loss of consumer confidence and data integrity and confidentiality.

8. Make Security Risks a Priority

There’s a good chance you’ll come across some possible cyber security threats. You’ll have to rank these threats according to how much harm they can do to your network or device. You may categorize them as extreme, medium, or low-level threats once more using the simple form. Some businesses, on the other hand, use a point system that ranges from zero to ten. The highest level of impact is ten, with zero representing the lowest or no risk threat.

9. Make a Plan or Strategy for Risk Management.

You can now develop a risk management strategy or plan based on the information gathered during the risk evaluation. At the very least, your strategy should involve the following:

  • The risk and/or weakness should be defined in detail.
  • What effect will it have on your network/business?
  • hazard level (high, medium or low, or point system)
  • Steps you should take to solve the problem

If you’ve come up with a strategy, make sure to put it into action right away. The earlier you can improve your cyber security policies, the better your company will be protected.

10. Ensure that Everything is Recorded

The most important phase in the IT security risk assessment process is documentation. Be sure to keep track of everything, from the risk and vulnerability detection to the outcome. You may also develop a risk evaluation report that details all of the measures taken, as well as the conclusions and control recommendations. In the long run, documentation will assist you in keeping track of your cyber resilience.

11. Continue to Evaluate the IT Environment on a Regular Basis

It’s important to note that risk management is a continuous operation. Your cyber security requirements will evolve as new threats arise and your company expands. Furthermore, as time passes, you will gain a better understanding of how the cyber security programs are doing. As a result, you’ll need to refine your network on a regular basis. This means you’ll have to fine-tune the cyber security risk assessment process on a regular basis.

Cybersecurity Risk Assessment Checklist

The following checklist will assist you if you plan to conduct your own cyber security risk assessment. Make certain you don’t overlook any of these information.

  1. Create a well-documented strategy for the staff and suppliers to implement when it comes to best IT practices. Communication, email, privacy, encryption, data sharing, internet access, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and remote access should all be protected.
  2. Define a comprehensive remote employee protocol that outlines how they can connect to your network, how they can get IT support, and which devices they can use to connect to your network.
  3. Create and execute a password and account management strategy that is well-defined. Set password policies, uninstall any accounts that are no longer active, and train workers not to exchange passwords or user IDs.
  4. Ensure the cyber security tools such as firewalls, antivirus, data encryption, and antimalware are enterprise-level. Password protect everything on your network, from your router to your printer, particularly IoT devices.
  5. Ensure that all stakeholders in your company are involved in the cyber security evaluation process from the start, not just the IT guys. Consider it a way to boost your company’s overall efficiency, connectivity, and security.
  6. Find all of your assets, no matter how insignificant they seem, and include them in the cyber security evaluation. You may list them as low-risk investments, but they should be seen as part of your overall strategy.
  7. Understand your location’s local, state, national, and international IT and data-sharing regulations. To escape fines and legal action, as well as to protect your brand’s name, you must follow these rules.
  8. You must devise an incident management strategy. If at all necessary, go for total automation. Companies that have completely implemented security automation will save $3.58 million on the estimated overall cost of a data breach compared to those that haven’t.

Final Thoughts

A comprehensive cyber security evaluation is the most effective way to begin enhancing the security and reliability of your company’s network. Knowing the current vulnerabilities, security holes, and device controls will assist you in developing a cyber security strategy that maximizes your resources while still meeting your business needs. That’s why conducting an IT security assessment is such an important part of adopting enterprise-level cyber security. This quick guide will give you the courage you need to begin preparing your cyber security assessment.

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