The number of data breaches in 2021 was the highest it has ever been. That’s why every company should conduct an annual cybersecurity risk assessment.
How do you perform an assessment? While relying on expert cybersecurity help is best, here are the five steps every assessment should take.
1-Determine the Scope of the Assessment
Do you want to analyze the weak points of your entire system, or do you want to examine a small slice of your cybersecurity framework?
If you’re not sure what the scope should be, it helps to develop a hypothesis of where your vulnerabilities may be. Has one of your IT professionals identified a vulnerability in the past? If so, this may inspire you to look at your system in the context of that cybersecurity threat.
2-Identify the Risks
After determining the scope, identify what risks currently exist for your network. You can categorize the risks into three different areas:
- Threat sources: Understand why vulnerabilities in your system exist.
- Threat events: How would hackers use your system’s vulnerabilities to wreak havoc?
- Vulnerabilities and conditions: Examine your security controls and data permissions to identify vulnerabilities related to human error.
3-Analyze and Determine Potential Impact
With an idea of what cybersecurity risks exist for your system, you can measure the actual or potential impact of those vulnerabilities. To calculate risk, you need two variables:
- The likelihood of a breach
- The impact of a breach
You can measure each vulnerability on a three-point scale for each variable: low, moderate, and high. The higher the vulnerability ranks in each category, the more severe the risk.
After ranking the risks, you can adequately assess and prioritize them. If a breach is highly likely to occur and would devastate your system, its risk should be pretty high on your priority list.
Developing a plan of action for each risk is also essential. The best approach is to create multiple courses of action for a single cybersecurity problem, evaluate each solution, and pick the one that would be most effective.
Finally, make the risks you’ve discovered known to your IT department and anyone else who needs that information. If applicable, they’ll make the necessary changes to your system and take steps to address the risk.
Protect Your Network the Right Way
Completing a cybersecurity risk assessment on your own is possible, but only if you have previous cybersecurity experience. If you’re going into an assessment unaware of cybersecurity nuances, you could accidentally leave specific vulnerabilities unchecked.
Working with a cybersecurity professional to ensure a successful assessment is crucial.