Gartner research indicates that nearly half of cybersecurity leaders will switch jobs by 2025, revealing a significant retention issue in the industry. Even more concerning—25% of these leaders are actively seeking entirely different roles.

Why are so many leaving the industry? A multitude of reasons, from work-related stressors to feeling unappreciated within their organizations. Working in cybersecurity is no easy feat, as businesses face the constant threat of cyber attacks. While the work to defend against these threats is vital, it's also complex and undervalued in many industries.

So, how can businesses support and retain burnt-out cybersecurity personnel battling virtual threats on the frontlines? Four words—cyber risk management automation.

Traditional cybersecurity practices, such as a manual cybersecurity risk assessment or incident response, are time-consuming and error-prone. Automation streamlines these processes, effectively defending an organization's assets while relieving some burden from overwhelmed cyber risk professionals.

Curious about tapping into the efficiency of risk management automation? To fully understand the benefits of automation, let's back up. What is risk management in cybersecurity, exactly, and how does automation fit into this framework?

What Is Cybersecurity Risk Management?

Effective cybersecurity risk management involves assessing and minimizing potential threats to an organization's digital systems. This process entails analyzing the impact and likelihood of cyber threats, and then implementing strategies to reduce or manage those risks.

Think of it like getting regular checkups with your doctor. These help identify potential health issues before they become serious problems. Similarly, cybersecurity risk management involves consistently checking the health of your digital systems to identify and address any vulnerabilities or threats before they can cause irreversible damage.

What Is Automation in Risk Management?

Automation in risk management involves the use of software, algorithms, and artificial intelligence to automate tedious tasks traditionally performed manually. Businesses can look forward to numerous benefits as a result of using such risk management technology, such as:

  • Increased efficiency by automating repetitive tasks and saving staff time and resources

  • Reduced risk of human error

  • Cost savings due to decreased risk of errors and need for costly remediation efforts

  • Real-time monitoring and alerts that allow for faster responses to potential threats

These benefits are becoming more apparent to many organizations, as evidenced by a recent Statista survey. This survey revealed that businesses using extensive security automation jumped from 5.1% in 2019 to 33.9% in 2021. Overall, nearly 98% of the respondents said they use some form of automation within their key cybersecurity processes.

Why Is Cybersecurity Risk Management Important?

Cybersecurity risk management is the only way to safeguard your organization's assets from cyber attacks, data breaches, ransomware, and many other lurking threats in our digitally dependent society. Consider how the following two businesses suffered at the hands of such attacks.

Sensitive Information of 150 Million People Exposed in Equifax Data Breach of 2017

Equifax, one of three national credit bureaus, suffered a massive cyberattack in 2017 that exposed sensitive personal and financial information of around 150 million people, including their names, birth dates, social security numbers, addresses, and more.

This breach can be attributed to several failures in Equifax's risk management strategy, but the most egregious of them was surprisingly simple—an expired digital certificate. This certificate plays a crucial role in the inspection of encrypted data, which in turn prevents the unauthorized transfer of sensitive information.

Unfortunately, Equifax failed to renew the certificate, and this error went undetected until ten months after the certificate had expired. In the meantime, hackers slipped in, took what they wanted in small increments—and no one noticed. Clearly, Equifax did not have a proper risk management process in place if such a vital part of its cyber defenses was down for so long.

Equifax faced widespread criticism for its slow and inadequate reaction to the breach. The company's response, coupled with the severity of the attack, eroded the trust of consumers, investors, and business stakeholders. For example, after this incident, they lost a major contract with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) based on the IRS's assessment of Equifax's security controls. Equifax also had to pay $425 million to assist those affected by the breach as part of the final settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

Small Businesses Are At Risk Too—Law Firm Loses $198,610 in Phishing Scam

The loss of $198,610 might not be incredibly damaging to enterprise-level businesses, but for small- and medium-sized businesses—it's a big chunk of change.

A law firm in North Carolina, Owens, Schine & Nicola, P.C. (OSN), was the business that experienced this loss. It all started with a phishing email from someone posing as a fellow North Carolina attorney. This attorney requested assistance from OSN with a matter for a Chinese client. OSN agreed to assist, and they then received an email from the Chinese client, who was actually a fraudster. The perpetrator made a deal with OSN under which the law firm would recover a debt owed by a Connecticut-based business to the perpetrator.

OSN then received a check for $198,610 from this alleged debtor in Connecticut, which they tried to deposit into their trust account. At the request of the fake Chinese client, OSN wired the amount to an institution in South Korea—all before the check from the alleged debtor cleared. Once the check was finally reviewed and deemed fraudulent, it was too late.

OSN quickly submitted a claim with their insurance company, Travelers. Travelers denied their claim, trying to say that this didn't fall under their definition of “computer fraud.” OSN did not agree and promptly filed a lawsuit against Travelers. After a long battle, the court sided with OSN, and they were deemed covered for the incident (thankfully).

However, all of this—the stress, the lawsuit, the costs, the tarnished reputation—could have been avoided with some basic training on common phishing scams, a key part of any cyber risk management framework.

What Are the 5 Components of a Risk Management Framework?

The five components of a successful cyber risk management framework are assessment, mitigation, monitoring, communication, and governance. Let's examine each a bit closer. 

1. Assessment: Spot the Threat

A cyber risk assessment involves identifying potential risks to an organization's assets, including people, information, and technology. This process should include an internal evaluation of current security measures and business-critical technology. Organizations should also look externally and create a list of IT risks for risk assessment, which should consider threats like:

  • Unauthorized access to sensitive information or systems

  • Malware infections and virus attacks

  • Poorly configured or unpatched software and systems

  • Social engineering and phishing attacks

  • Weak or compromised passwords and authentication methods

  • Lack of employee cybersecurity awareness and training

  • Ransomware attacks and other forms of extortion

  • Regulatory compliance violations and penalties

  • Internet of Things (IoT) security risks

To simplify this undertaking, businesses can use cyber risk assessment tools. What is a risk assessment tool for cybersecurity? Some examples include automated vulnerability scans, risk assessment surveys, and phishing simulations.

2. Mitigation: Fight the Risk

Once you have identified risks, you must then take steps to reduce their likelihood or impact with risk treatment mitigation methods. What are the four cybersecurity risk treatment mitigation methods?

  • Avoidance - This method involves taking actions to avoid the risk altogether. For example, an organization may choose not to use a certain technology or conduct certain business practices that could increase its cybersecurity risk.

  • Transfer - Businesses often transfer risks to a third party, such as an insurance company. They do this by purchasing cybersecurity insurance or outsourcing certain cybersecurity tasks to a third-party vendor. If you use an automated risk management platform like Trava Security, you can give your insurance provider more detailed security and risk insights, which usually means a lower quote! Plus, the Trava platform offers an insurance broker interface to streamline the renewal and application process.

  • Reduction - Organizations must also reduce the likelihood or impact of cybersecurity risk. Examples of reduction strategies include implementing firewalls and antivirus software to prevent malware attacks, running an employee cybersecurity training program, and establishing backup and recovery procedures to minimize the impact of a cyber incident.

  • Acceptance - There may be some risks that an organization cannot fully mitigate or eliminate, and in these cases, it may choose to accept the risk. This acceptance means that the organization understands the potential consequences of the risk and is willing to proceed despite them. A business may do this when the cost or effort of mitigating the risk outweighs the potential impact of the risk itself. For instance, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many businesses allowed employees to use their personal devices to work from home. This move exposed a host of cyber vulnerabilities, but the cost of providing new equipment or not working at all outweighed the risks for many.

3. Monitoring: Stay Alert

As cyber threats continue to evolve, organizations must adopt a proactive approach to stay ahead of emerging trends. Regular monitoring—including assessments, testing, and strategy reviews—is a crucial component of a comprehensive cybersecurity program. A monitoring plan should detail:

  • The scope of your monitoring

  • How frequently it should occur

  • The requirements for recording any observations and areas of concern

Automation tools are especially helpful for monitoring, as they can track your IT infrastructure and network in real time, identifying and alerting you to potential cyber threats as they happen. With Trava Security, for example, you will receive alerts ranging from notifications of phishing attacks to suspicious activity on your system or devices.

4. Communication: Spread the Word

To effectively manage cyber risks, keeping all stakeholders in the loop is crucial. Communication must occur internally within the organization and externally with partners, customers, regulators, and other stakeholders. It is essential to not only disclose potential risks, but to also outline the steps taken to mitigate them and the possible consequences. Remember the Equifax breach from earlier? Their failure to effectively communicate this information led to an additional backlash that they could have avoided.

All risk management messaging should be clear and avoid jargon or overly complicated explanations. Additionally, those in charge of cybersecurity should encourage feedback and questions from stakeholders. They may have a unique perspective or thought that could improve your process.

5. Governance: Set Rules and Get Compliant

The governance component of the risk management framework involves establishing policies, procedures, and organizational structures to guide and oversee risk management activities. This component is critical for integrating risk management into an organization's overall business strategy and operations. Governance tasks include:

  • Defining roles and responsibilities related to risk management.

  • Creating an internal cybersecurity risk assessment template to provide a consistent approach to monitoring and mitigating risk.

  • Developing incident response and recovery plans.

  • Ensuring compliance with regulations and standards, like SOC2 or ISO27001.

  • Regularly reviewing these policies and procedures and updating them as needed.

What Software Is Used for Risk Management?

If you're wondering, “What are the automated risk assessment tools we should be using?” then look no further than Trava Security. Our team is a preferred cyber risk management provider for organizations of all sizes. With the Trava Security Control Panel, users can:

  • Run automated vulnerability risk assessment scans, including external, certificate, dark web, cloud, agent, web application, and Microsoft 365 scans.

  • Review and interpret risk assessment results, including visualizations of risk level scores and vulnerability by severity.

  • Take controls surveys to evaluate the effectiveness of current security controls within an organization.

  • Set up, execute, and assess internal risks as a result of social engineering and phishing campaigns, with numerous templates to choose from.

We understand that your cybersecurity needs are one of a kind and demand tailor-made solutions. No matter where you are in your cybersecurity journey, we're here to assist you through the whole process, from assessment to compliance. See how Trava has helped other businesses like yours here, or get the ball rolling with one of our risk assessment tools that's free—our cyber risk checkup!