What is a cybersecurity risk assessment?
A Cybersecurity Risk Assessment is a comprehensive risk and gap analysis evaluation for an organization’s security posture. This assessment is designed to identify and assess potential risks and vulnerabilities, and prioritize risks to its information technology (IT) systems, processes, and policies.
The main objective of a cybersecurity risk assessment service is to provide recommendations and actionable insights to enhance security by identifying vulnerabilities for potential risk and threats. The findings of these assessments serve as a foundation for developing tailored security strategies and remediation for implementing necessary measures to enhance the organization’s resilience against cyber threats, ensuring the protection of sensitive data and critical assets.
There are many different frameworks and methodologies available in the realm of cybersecurity risk assessments, but a common objective unites them all: enhancing cybersecurity resilience.
Two of the more popular frameworks being:
- The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework stands out as a widely embraced choice, offering organizations a versatile and organized method to evaluate their cybersecurity risks and subsequently strategize to mitigate them effectively.
- The ISO/IEC 27001:2013 (ISO 27001) is an international standard that presents a holistic approach to information security management, encompassing robust provisions for risk assessment and treatment
Why you need a cyber risk assessment
“You don’t know what you don’t know.” This is an oft-repeated phrase that definitely applies to cybersecurity risk assessments. Many organizations don’t know where to begin when trying to start their cyber journey, and they often ask for a “pen test” or penetration test.
This is not a bad starting point, but … it’s not your best option for determining your current cybersecurity posture. A pen test may tell you that someone can or can’t get into your web application or infrastructure (sometimes!), but it won’t tell you if there’s a process to discover vulnerabilities before the code is deployed, or if you have other risks on the corporate information technology (IT) side that could lead to a compromise.
Consider these facts:
- The average cost of a data breach for small to midsize businesses (SMBs) range upward of $120,000 to $1.24 million
- SMBs account for over 50% of all data breaches
- About 50% of SMBs are not prepared for a data breach and/or have no cybersecurity measures in place at all
- At least one open-source vulnerability is found in 84% of codebases
- The keystone of all cybersecurity programs is a comprehensive cybersecurity assessment
If you haven’t had a cybersecurity risk assessment recently, the time to do so is yesterday.
The digital landscape grows more treacherous with the accelerated innovation of generative artificial intelligence and machine learning that offer advanced tools to cybercriminals that perfect phishing emails, deep fakes, malware deficiencies, etc.
SMBs are cyberattack targets precisely because they are low-hanging fruit. Cybercriminals are banking ― literally ― on SMBs to have weaker cybersecurity architecture that is penetrated easily.
Don’t be one of them.
Security gaps all have one thing in common: lack of visibility. Simply put, you can’t protect what you can’t see. A cyber risk assessment equals visibility and visibility equals trust.
Whether you are ready to build a stalwart cybersecurity program to protect your assets and reputation, need to meet compliance regulations, or show your security posture for an audit or questionnaire, a thorough comprehensive cybersecurity risk and vulnerability assessment is critical.
Ok, so now that you know you need a cybersecurity risk assessment … Now what? How do you perform a cybersecurity risk assessment?
This is how cybersecurity professionals do it.
The 5 cybersecurity risk assessment steps
1. Discovery – Take an inventory
The first step of a risk assessment is inventory. Take an in-depth review and catalog existing policies, procedures, and tools already in place across departments within your organization. By evaluating what your organization currently utilizes, you can see gaps that may exist between intent and actual implementation.
2. Analysis – Determine system vulnerabilities
Next, run an evaluation that:
- Determines threats to your organization. You could use something like the MITRE ATT&CK Framework to determine what specific threats apply to your organization.
- Probes your existing attack surface, network infrastructure, and cloud environment for gaps an attacker could use to their advantage.
- Analyzes publicly available data (aka open-source intelligence or OSINT) to see what public information your company is presenting externally that may leave you vulnerable.
- Analyzes security or compliance frameworks for potential gaps against compliance and security baselines (e.g., CIS-18, NIST 800-53, and ISO 270001).
3. Investigation ― Talk to your humans
To ensure a thorough assessment, conduct 1:1 interviews with key members of departments across your organization to collect intelligence on critical data and process workflows and the assets required to support data governance and the physical security of facilities where critical data is located.
The people in the day-to-day operations of your organization can shine light on hidden vulnerabilities, unprotected entryways, and security gaps. When Cyber Defense Group’s team conducts interviews in our process, we do it across an organization ― human resources, sales, operations, legal, C-suite executives, etc. ― not just the IT team.
4. Reporting ― Write it down
Now that you have dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s with a panoramic scope of your cyber environment and cybersecurity posture, it’s time to put your findings on paper to present to management, the board, or for an exterior questionnaire or audit. It’s important to ensure your executive summary is clear and concise, using the BLUF format to ensure comprehension by those that may be too busy to read the entire report.
5. Roadmap ― Make an action plan
The last and most important step to this process is ACTION. Using the detailed risk report of your cyber environment based on the previous stages, you should highlight remediation priorities, taking business objectives into account, and create a project schedule for implementation and execution of the roadmap across your organization.
Need help with a cybersecurity risk assessment?
The process of planning and completing a successful security assessment is time-consuming and requires up-to-date expertise about cybersecurity. Malicious actors only need a tiny crack in your security to get in, so it is prudent to be as meticulous as possible with any assessment of your environment and run assessments regularly.
For these reasons and many more, many companies find it best to partner with experienced cybersecurity professionals.
Cyber Defense Group is that partner.
Our cybersecurity risk and vulnerability assessments include detailed executive summary reports ― a comprehensive technical security and risk report including compliance guidelines for ISO and SOC maturity levels, risks, and gaps. with remediation and security improvement recommendations from our highly experienced team based on our assessment.
With Cyber Defense Group’s cybersecurity risk assessments, our team of cybersecurity experts partner with key members of your departments to initiate a roadmap of remediation and security improvement recommendations based on our findings.
In other words, we don’t hand you your results and go. We teach your team “to fish,” engineering a high-level action schedule from a security, IT, and business mindset.
If you’re looking for more guidance on how to move your cybersecurity resilience forward with a comprehensive, professional cybersecurity risk assessment, Cyber Defense Group can help.
Get in touch with our team and begin your cybersecurity risk assessment today.