As more businesses rely on cloud computing technologies for various functions, cybercriminals see increased opportunities to make a quick buck, wreak havoc, or both. Whether a business is a small operation or a global enterprise, if they’re not regularly conducting a cybersecurity risk assessment, it may be just a matter of time until they’re targeted. This begs a pair of questions:
What, exactly, is a cybersecurity risk assessment?
What are the main cybersecurity risk assessment tools, and how do you use them?
Keep reading for the answers to these questions and more.
What Is a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment?
A cybersecurity risk assessment is exactly what it sounds like—a process or methodology for identifying, analyzing, and evaluating cybersecurity risk factors. Conducting a risk assessment helps organizations to identify any vulnerabilities in their systems or processes, assess the level of risk, and develop a roadmap for enhancing their cybersecurity.
If you’re wondering why a cyber risk assessment is so important, consider the following:
There’s a widespread increase in cybercrime, both in frequency and attack types. In 2021 alone, 66% of organizations were affected by ransomware attacks.
Companies are increasing their usage on IoT devices and cloud technologies. By 2028, the market for IoT and cloud computing platforms is expected to grow by 14.6%.
As organizations continue to adopt remote working models, additional cybersecurity concerns come into play.
What Are Cybersecurity Risk Assessment Tools?
The term “cybersecurity risk assessment tool” typically refers to a specific process or framework for assessing, understanding, and improving cybersecurity. It can also refer to a specific activity, like using an online Cyber Risk Score assessment to get a general idea of an organization’s potential vulnerabilities, threats, and risks.
There are several different frameworks for conducting security risk assessments. A few of the most common include:
The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) framework, which consists of five distinct stages related to protection, detection, identification, response, and recovery.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO)’s IEC 27001 standard, which relates to the governance of information security management systems.
The Department of Defense (DoD)’s Risk Management Framework, which centers around “developing effective monitoring and analysis capabilities, incident response procedures, efficient communication management and control, and timely reporting.”
The Factor Analysis of Information Risk (FAIR) framework, “the only international standard Value at Risk (VaR) model for cybersecurity and operational risk.”
Which Is the Most Commonly Used Risk Assessment Tool?
The “Gold Standard” is the NIST cybersecurity framework. In short, it provides a comprehensive, consistent, and repeatable methodology for assessing an organization’s cybersecurity posture. The most up-to-date version of the NIST framework contains five main components, which we’ll discuss next.
How Do You Perform a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment?
When the NIST framework is adopted, a cybersecurity risk assessment framework consists of five main phases or activities:
- Assessing the organization’s overall cybersecurity posture, which NIST defines as “the security status of an enterprise’s networks, information, and systems.” This step entails:
Taking an inventory of all physical as well as cloud-based IT assets.
Evaluating the security controls that are currently in place.
Choosing an appropriate cybersecurity assessment method or framework, like those we’ve defined above.
Investigating and addressing attack vectors, or methods would-be cybercriminals might use to target the organization and its assets (e.g., malware, phishing, insider threats).
Creating an actionable and timely roadmap for cybersecurity improvements and continued diligence against emerging threats.
Identifying and evaluating any cybersecurity gaps, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities, and prioritizing the most urgent or impactful.
Planning for cybersecurity improvements and creating a roadmap/timeline for implementing changes and monitoring their effectiveness over time.
Executing the plan in order to mitigate risk by addressing any/all identified vulnerabilities.
Monitoring the cybersecurity strategy’s effectiveness and further refining policies and procedures for continued improvement.
What’s Your Cybersecurity Risk Score?
A cybersecurity risk score is one way to quantify security posture. It is determined by three key variables: threats, vulnerabilities, and risks.
It begins with vulnerabilities, which are weak points within an organization’s assets and overall cybersecurity posture. In other words, vulnerabilities are potential entry points for cybercriminals.
Threats refer to actions or activities that can attack and exploit those vulnerabilities.
Finally, risks attempt to quantify various threats’ potential impact—whether monetary, reputational, disruptive, etc.
At Trava, we firmly believe two things to be true about cybersecurity:
Cybersecurity is an absolutely essential consideration for modern businesses across a wide range of industries, and
Cybersecurity doesn’t have to be complicated. With Trava, it isn’t.
A great first step to understanding and improving cybersecurity is taking a Cyber Risk Checkup, which Trava provides free of charge. Submit a short form, and we’ll perform a top-level scan of your domain. From there, you can explore our wide range of cybersecurity solutions, which include vulnerability scans, cybersecurity risk assessment surveys, phishing simulations, and more.
You can learn much more about cybersecurity fundamentals and best practices by checking out our resources page, scheduling a demo of our services and platform, or contacting us directly with any inquiries.