Cyber threat and risk assessments are a vital part of this digital age, but how do you perform one? If you run a business or deal with any amount of sensitive data, this assessment is something you should do regularly and take seriously to protect yourself, your business, and your costumers.
So, what are the best practices to use when performing a cyber threat and risk assessment?
- Identify the highest valued information first
- Work closely with the organization leaders
- Identify the likelihood of internal threats
- Identify the likelihood of environmental threats
- Find external vulnerabilities
- Determine the biggest threats to cybersecurity
- Assess the precautions already in place
- Determine the cost of suggested security vs. The value of data
- Included scenarios in your risk and threat assessment
- Consider third-party monitoring
The term cyber threat and risk assessment looks quite complicated but it’s not that intimidating if you take the time to learn a little bit more about this, as this will make it easier to understand. Here is a little more information on the process.
What Is a Cyber Threat and Risk Assessment?
A cyber threat and risk assessment, put in the simplest terms possible, is the process of evaluating the threat, vulnerability, and information value of a cyber system.
Once the evaluation is complete, a plan for risk management is drawn based on vulnerabilities determined by the evaluation.
The purpose of this type of assessment is to help people make informed decisions about how they handle and secure cyber assets.
Cybersecurity is a crucial part of any organization that uses digital tools to manage important information. Any big government or business organization performs them regularly to keep the personal information they are in charge of safe from cyber threats, like hackers and viruses.
If you are in charge of cyber risk management, here are some tips to help you perform a thorough threat and risk assessment.
1. Identify The Highest Valued Information First
Determining information value can be a big job, depending on the size of the organization you are assessing. Some organizations might not have the resources to assess the whole of their system.
You are probably better off trying to identify the highest value data. Look for:
- information on consumers and personnel
- data that might damage the reputation of the organization if it were to be leaked
- patented data, or anything valuable to a competitor like company secrets, plans, and strategies
- any information that cannot be recreated or information that would take a long time to recover.
- information that would impact the day to day goings-on of the organization.
Even if you are planning do a complete risk and threat assessment, having priorities and a plan of attack can help you tackle the task thoroughly and completely.
2. Work Closely With the Organization Leaders
Working with the organization leaders may seem like a no brainer to some, and a hassle to others, but it is very important to identify internal security threats and information value.
If possible, ask them for a list that includes:
- software and hardware
- data they prioritize
- IT policies and architecture
- information flow, user interface, and end-user information
- information storage
- environmental security and physical security controls
- any other security, storage, or usage information they can.
Even those who aren’t tech-savvy might give you a better picture of the day to day operation and the average risk of the system your assessing. These people will undoubtedly know what is in their domain and their people who can help give you further information.
3. Identify the Likelihood of Internal Threats
While most organizations are somewhat prepared for external threats, they sometimes forget to prepare for the internal ones. Anything from a turn-coat data thief, to an accident caused by carelessness, can severely threaten the security of information.
Consider these in your risk analysis:
- information handling procedures and training
- data storage software
- the scale of competition against the organization
- the ease of accidental deletion of information,
- the ease of information recovery.
A simple lack of training can cause a massive leak in a security system. If you are running a cyber threat and risk assessment, make sure to factor in accidents as well as malicious intent.
4. Identify the Likelihood of Environmental Threats
The danger to data isn’t simply theft, but loss as well. You can power up your firewalls and encryptions all you want, but if your hardware is destroyed physically, your data is gone.
Consider the threat of:
- fire hazards
- earthquake damage
- tornado/ hurricanes
- critical system failure
Make sure the organization is running off quality software and has an adequate defence against likely environmental disasters. From earthquakes in California to clumsy coffee drinkers, make sure to protect against as many sources as possible.
5. Find External Vulnerabilities
This is another no brainer, but make sure to check threats from competitors and hacker type situations as well.
Keep an eye out for defence against:
- unauthorized use of hardware, software, or networks
- unauthorized users
- inadequate security of important data
- service disruption caused by low-quality networks, software or hardware.
People who decided to surf the web on the organization’s networks or computers don’t always realize the threat that they might pose to the whole network. Make sure to gauge how likely or easily authorized users can get onto unauthorized websites.
Also, consider how vulnerable the organization’s own websites maybe, find out when these are pen-tested and how regularly this is done. Many organizations may use automated pipelines where DevSecOps tooling has been set up to automatically check on their websites on a daily scheduled basis.
6. Determine the Biggest Threats to Cybersecurity
After you catalogue the risk and information value, take time to prioritize the biggest risks first. That way, even if the organization can’t take care of all the cybersecurity issues right away, they have a list of what to handle first.
- the value of the information to be protected
- the size of the vulnerability
- the likely hood of someone finding that vulnerability
This list will be a great asset to you and the organization you’re working for.
7. Assess the Precautions Already in Place
You know the biggest threats, now before you make suggestions on how to fight against them, consider the defences already in place and how they might match up against those threats.
Take into account:
- policies and standard work practices.
- firewalls, encryption, and other software safeguards
- passwords, codes, and keys that manage information access
Check to see if what the organization has on hand is on par with what you have determined is the most likely risk.
8. Determine the Cost of Suggested Security vs. the Value of Data
Once you’ve planned improvements on what needs to be improved, make sure to weigh the cost of those improvements vs. the value of the information you are protecting.
Take into account:
- man-hours and labour costs
- the cost and scale of hardware upgrades
- the cost and scale of software upgrades
Make sure that all the money time and money you think should be put into risk management is worth it.
9. Included Scenarios in Your Risk and Threat Assessment
You can talk all day about security and the danger of malware, but a lot of times, it will go right over a person’s head. When you give your assessment to someone, consider going through likely scenarios.
Make sure to include:
- the likely hood and possible origins of the threat
- the scale and ease of risk and damage
- just how your changes can prevent these things from happening
This may be the best way to convey your point to people outside your area of expertise who might not grasp the actual size of the threat.
10. Consider Third-Party Monitoring
A final thing to mention is that many organizations might benefit best from third party monitoring. Third-party monitoring companies have built up expertise in dealing with similar organizations like yours and this can be invaluable.
These companies will help those who are:
- less tech-savvy
- have large operations
- require a lot of upgrades based on cyber risk and threat analyses
- are operating on a budget that does not allow for their own cybersecurity team.
The simple suggestion and a referral to a reputable cybersecurity monitor can go a long way in helping an organization protect its data and information from anything happening to it.
If you keep these steps and practices in mind, you will produce a thorough and helpful cyber risk and threat assessment that will help an organization to keep its information safe in this cyber age.
What is cyber security threat? A cyber security threat is a malicious act that could cause disruption, the theft of data as well as damage to data, extortion through using ransomware activities.
What is risk in cyber security? Risk in Cyber Security is the likelihood of potential damage from breaches or attacks compared to the impact of what the damage could be. The more likelihood of an attack with a higher impact makes the risk very high. Whilst low likelihood with low impact makes the risk low.