Cyberthreats get more sophisticated every day. While you may be familiar with attacks like phishing, malware, and ransomware, how prepared are you to defend against social engineering, denial of service, or cryptojacking?
Unsure whether your data security standards are up to snuff? A cybersecurity risk assessment may be ideal for you. A cyber risk assessment identifies risks and vulnerabilities in your network, giving you the power to prevent breaches. Interested? Keep reading to learn more about risk assessments, get answers to some FAQs, and find out what comes after an assessment.
What Is a Security Risk Assessment?
A cybersecurity risk assessment (also known as an IT security assessment) is a procedure that detects and evaluates security threats. A security risk assessment is best conducted by a professional and is key to helping your business identify risks that lead to cyberattacks.
A security risk assessment is required before you can upgrade your cybersecurity measures. Upgrading before conducting a security risk assessment is flying in the dark, because you have no way of knowing what your most pressing issues are. Informed decisions are key to success in all facets of business, but especially with cybersecurity. A risk assessment helps you get the information you need.
Vulnerabilities are rarely obvious. Trying to find them on your own is a myopic approach, because you’ll always be biased by your perception of your company. The risk assessment process takes the perspective of an actual cybercriminal, which more effectively identifies pressing vulnerabilities.
Cybersecurity Risk Assessment FAQs
Now that we better understand how a cybersecurity risk assessment works, let’s review some frequently asked questions.
What Is the Purpose of a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment?
A cybersecurity risk assessment is designed to identify threats and vulnerabilities in your network. Identification is the first step in actually improving and patching these threats.
How Long Does a Risk Assessment Take?
The amount of time a risk assessment takes highly depends on the size and complexity of your organization. For a small business with barebones online processes, a risk assessment can be done within weeks.
For large organizations with hundreds of employees, multiple locations, and intricate online processes, an assessment could take months.
Regardless of the size of your company, an assessment is worth pursuing. In fact, studies show that small businesses may be more vulnerable to data breaches. According to StrongDM, 46% of breaches impact businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees. Furthermore, smaller businesses are less likely to recover from a cyberattack, with 60% closing within six months of a cyberattack according to Fundera.
What Industries Need a Cyber Risk Assessment?
Industries like healthcare, finance, and government contracting stand the most to gain from risk assessments. These industries must meet strict compliance requirements or risk facing fines, legal consequences, and reputational damage.
However, every business with online processes can benefit in some way from a risk assessment. Modern businesses are highly reliant on digitally stored information. What would happen if your business lost access to its data? If this possibility concerns you, a cyber risk assessment is worth considering.
What Does the Risk Assessment Process Look Like?
There are numerous steps involved in the risk assessment process. It should begin with identifying the goals of your organization and breaking down how the assessment will help you reach them.
After this initial collaboration, your IT provider should work with you to outline internal factors like:
- Your Company’s Mission
- Your Locations
- Relevant Stakeholders
- Security Requirements
After considering these factors, the assessment process itself should be outlined. Work with your provider to answer questions like:
- How should risks be quantified?
- How are you prioritizing and categorizing your risks?
- What’s considered an acceptable level of risk?
- What are your tangible and intangible assets?
Once all of these questions are answered, the risk assessment process can begin. During this process, your assessor should define your risks, describe their severity, and develop a plan to address them.
Who’s Involved in a Risk Assessment?
Everyone should be involved in a properly conducted risk assessment. It should include constant communication between the assessor and the assessee.
Need the Right Risk Assessment Partner?
Cybersecurity risk assessments should be a collaborative process. For expertise and high-quality service, consider Virtual-Q.
What’s the Difference Between a Cybersecurity RIsk Assessment, Penetration Testing, and an IT Security Assessment?
A cybersecurity risk assessment and IT security assessment are interchangeable terms. Penetration testing is a specific process that falls under the greater cybersecurity risk assessment umbrella. Penetration testing is the part of the cybersecurity risk assessment in which your provider tries to breach through your cybersecurity measures to put their strength to the test.
Next Steps After a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment
After conducting your IT security risk assessment, you should have an actionable plan to tackle the weakest parts of your cybersecurity.
Need help executing that plan? Basically, there are four ways you can address any risks or vulnerabilities in your organization:
- Avoidance: Avoid the risk by circumventing the processes that cause it.
- Mitigation: Mitigate the risk by implementing new security controls.
- Transference: Transfer the risk to a third-party organization like a managed service provider or insurance provider.
- Acceptance: Simply accept the risk if you deem it acceptable. Businesses usually choose this option when they don’t have the resources to address vulnerabilities.
Risk assessments are only the first step. The real challenge is moving forward and addressing any security concerns that were identified.
Become a Security Titan With Virtual-Q
From identification to implementation, Virtual-Q is your full-service cybersecurity provider. Cyberattacks are constantly developing. Instead of trying to stay on top of it yourself, partner with trusted professionals. Lock down your business’s cybersecurity and contact us today.