Cybersecurity has been a concern for decades. As computers and the internet continue to develop—with mostly good intentions—the sad reality is that cyber criminals evolve as well. While early forms of hacking were relatively limited in scope and damages, these days cybercrime is far more sophisticated, complex, and damaging. Now, with over 5 billion people on the internet, the need for cybersecurity is hard to overstate.
Consider, for example, the fact that in the first half of 2022 alone there were over 231 million ransomware attacks globally. For perspective, this means around 71% of organizations worldwide were impacted by ransomware attacks. The real kicker is that ransomware isn’t the only form of cybercrime. It can also include things like:
Supply chain attacks
With so much of today’s commerce and connection centering around computers and the internet, taking a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity is paramount. That being said, addressing cybersecurity can feel like a daunting and mysterious task, often clouded by obscure terminology and an overwhelming to-do list. Usually, a good place to start is with a cybersecurity risk assessment. And here’s the good news, there are plenty of cybersecurity tools for beginners out there, including ours at Trava Security. These tools help simplify and streamline the cybersecurity process, leaving more time for you to focus on what really matters—your business.
In this article we’ll discuss:
Cybersecurity risk management
Cyber risk management platforms and online cybersecurity tools
A cybersecurity risk assessment involves an organization evaluating their current cybersecurity landscape. At a bare minimum, this includes taking stock of their vulnerabilities, threats, and risks.
Vulnerabilities refer to the weak points within an institution's existing infrastructure, hardware, software, or procedures.
Threats, on the other hand, are actions and activities that have the potential to exploit a vulnerability and pose damage to an organization.
Risks are where threats meet vulnerabilities, leading to potential asset loss, damage, or destruction.
Simply knowing what threats are out there or what vulnerabilities your company has is not enough. To truly assess your cybersecurity risk, you need to understand both threats and vulnerabilities. Only then can you accurately gauge the full scope of your risks.
The 5 steps that can help you simplify and execute a cybersecurity risk assessment are:
Determining the overall scope of the risk assessment. In this step, you have to decide how extensive your assessment needs to be. In many cases, trying to evaluate the entire company can be overwhelming and impractical. Instead, it might make sense to focus on a specific business unit, location, or aspect of your company.
Identify all of your current assets within the scope of this assessment. This includes taking stock of mission-critical, high-profile assets. This sub-step is important because it allows you to accurately estimate risks of a cybersecurity incident. Think of this as the same way an elementary school teacher has an attendance list during a fire drill. In order to make sure everyone is accounted for, they need an accurate record of who they are responsible for.
After you account for your assets, it’s time to move on to identifying threats. As we mentioned earlier, threats are the tactics and actions used to cause potential harm to your infrastructure. Using cybersecurity software tools like Trava can help identify threats, as well as the potential harm they may cause.
Once you know what you have to start with and what threats are out there, it’s important to understand their potential impact.You need to consider how threats could affect your infrastructure, customers, continuity of operations, and overall business success.
Analyzing potential risks and impacts. In step two you should have assessed everything that can possibly happen. Step three is to consider which of those scenarios are more likely and what kind of damage(s) could result. Typically, when deciding how likely a risk is to occur and cause damage, you need to consider three things—discoverability, exploitability, and reproducibility. In particular, you should think about how each of these factors pertains to vulnerabilities and threats. The reason it is important to base risk levels on discoverability, exploitability, and reproducibility is because the digital world is always changing. That means historical risks and vulnerabilities are not necessarily good indicators of present and future risks.
Prioritizing risks. Determine which risks to address first. Sometimes, this consists of creating a risk matrix with risk level on one axis and likelihood on the other. Naturally, something that is high risk and highly likely should be a top priority. Similarly, actions that pose negligible risk or are deemed very unlikely might end up with lower priority.
Documenting risks. It is important to have a record of risks for current risk assessments, as well as future ones. While historical risks are not necessarily great indicators of future ones, it is important to try and mitigate redundant work. In other words, if you don’t have to reinvent the wheel for every risk, don’t. Similarly, having a log of documented risks can help you determine which ones have been addressed, which have been neglected, and can provide insight into your overall risk management process.
Similar to cyber risk management tools, a risk assessment tool simply helps users assess the current landscape of their cybersecurity risks. There are many risk assessment tools and platforms available in today’s marketplace. To help you determine which ones are worth using, let’s take a look at what a good tool should include.
The best risk assessment and management tool is one that makes it simple to evaluate your current risks, as well as how you can develop and implement next steps to address them. One of the easiest ways a tool can do this is to handle everything for you. Instead of spending your time focusing on the ins and outs of cybersecurity, you can use platforms and managed services personnel to handle it for you. That not only frees up your time to do what you’re passionate about, but it also ensures your cybersecurity is handled by the experts.
For example, a platform like Trava can help you perform risk assessment scans for a variety of applications ranging from Microsoft 365 to external infrastructure. What’s more, a quality tool shouldn’t just tell you where your risks are, but also how to address them. Trava can also help you achieve compliance goals, like SOC2, or run different assessment types. On top of all those insights and actionable next steps, what a good tool really offers is simplified and effective cybersecurity.
There are several different types of security risk assessments in cybersecurity. Determining which one(s) are best really depends on the needs of your organization. Different assessment types include:
Application Security Program Assessment
CIS Control Assessment
Cloud Security Assessment
Incident Response Readiness Assessment
Ransomware Simulation Assessment
Social Engineering Assessment
Table Top Exercises
Third-party Risk Assessment
Like other risk evaluations, a NIST assessment allows you to examine relevant threats to your organization. This includes internal and external vulnerabilities and threats. What makes a NIST assessment different, however, is that it must be performed to the standards set forth by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Performing a NIST risk assessment can be simplified into four steps: preparation, execution, findings, and maintenance.
Preparation: As we mentioned earlier, preparation involves identifying the purpose and scope of the assessment. It also includes determining the inputs, as well as the assumptions and constraints to use.
Execution: This is where you actually conduct the assessment. It involves identifying threats and vulnerabilities, as well as determining the potential consequences they could have.
Findings: Once the assessment is complete, you need to document and share the findings.
Maintenance: Now that the current assessment is complete, it’s time so set yourself up for continued future success. This requires staying up-to-date on and continuously monitoring identified risks, as well as scanning for new ones.
The NIST Cyber Risk Score (CRS) tool provides a numerical value to an organization’s level of exposure to cybercrime as well as the potential damages to their IT infrastructure. Essentially a CRS helps summarize, identify, and communicate the risk of a company in a valuable and easily digestible way. Basically, one way to think of a CRS is like a credit score for a company’s risk. It looks at a handful of factors and then calculates an overall risk score.
As you continue to think about cybersecurity and what your company’s current landscape looks like, it’s important to understand the 5 Cs: change, compliance, cost, continuity, and coverage.
Change: This refers to the constantly changing circumstances for an organization. It can include factors like technology advancements, market shifts, new competition, financial fluctuations, etc. When it comes to cybersecurity, those who are able to stay agile and adapt to change tend to be more successful. Whether it means changing your own robust systems and processes, or keeping up new technologies, being able to adjust on the fly can help minimize your risk of cyber attacks.
Compliance: Along with governance and risk management, compliance is a main cybersecurity goal for most companies. Simply having security protocols in place is not sufficient to mitigate the risk of cybersecurity threats. To truly do so, an organization must actually adhere to their cybersecurity processes. To that end, companies should transparently measure and report on how well security measures are being followed.
Cost: Naturally, cost is a main concern for every company. In order to adequately provide value to customers and maintain a healthy organization, organizations must make sure that they are spending money on products and services that provide value. In other words, when investing in cybersecurity, it might sound great to go way over the top and spend on a plan that comes with all the bells and whistles. But the reality is that if you spend too much—especially on features you do not need or on tools that don’t provide a good ROI—you can put your organization at serious financial risk. Instead, evaluate cost in the context of what you are getting in return, whether that’s a platform, a services team, or simply peace of mind that your company is secure.
How accessible those backups are
How up-to-date they are
How long it will take to get back to mission-critical business operations
Coverage: The size of your business’s IT infrastructure can also be referred to as coverage. Generally speaking, the more coverage (the larger your IT infrastructure) is, the more susceptible a company is to cybersecurity threats. Naturally, as your business grows or downsizes, its coverage might also change. It’s important to take these changes—and how they might impact your vulnerabilities—into consideration.
At Trava Security, we know that the world of cybersecurity can feel confusing and overwhelming. We exist to help simplify it for you. Between our platform capabilities and our 24/7 on-demand team of service providers, we can help take your mind and energy off of cybersecurity and put it back to work on the mission-critical parts of your business. To see our platform in action, schedule a demo with us or contact us to learn more!