Without a dynamic digital transformation strategy in place, it’s difficult to keep up with competitors and consumer behavior. That’s why 70% of organizations have an ever-evolving digital transformation strategy in place. As digital environments improve, though, so do the skills of cyber criminals. That’s why the need for cybersecurity is stronger than ever. The first step you can take to protect your digital environment is to conduct a cybersecurity risk assessment.

A cybersecurity risk assessment helps your business identify any potential threats, vulnerabilities, and risks in your tech stack. If you don’t have a cybersecurity team within your business, though, you might find it difficult navigating where to start. Following guidelines set by institutions like the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) can assist you in doing your own risk assessment.

What Does NIST Do?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce that develops measurement systems, creates new technologies, and sets standards for technology of all kinds and sizes. They put these standards in place to promote innovation within the U.S.’s tech industry. NIST compliance:

  • Keeps the U.S. competitive on a global scale

  • Boosts economic security

  • Enhances the quality of life for U.S. citizens

Not every business has to adhere to NIST standards, particularly when it comes to risk assessments. However, you can use them as guidelines to keep your business safe from cyber threats.

What Is a NIST Assessment?

According to NIST Special Publication (SP) 800-39, a cybersecurity risk assessment is “the process of identifying the risks to system security and determining the probability of occurrence, the resulting impact, and additional safeguards that would mitigate this impact.” Essentially, the NIST risk assessment framework guides your business in identifying where your tech environment has weaknesses that could result in damaged or lost assets, such as valuable data. From there, you can decide what steps to take to better protect those assets.

Risk assessments like these are particularly valuable for small and medium-sized businesses because it’s not economically feasible—or practical—to pay for the highest-end cybersecurity software out there. Instead, risk assessments show these smaller companies where to invest their money to keep their most vulnerable assets safe. Cybercriminals increasingly go after small and mid-sized businesses due to their lack of cybersecurity, so these businesses especially need to use risk assessments.

How Do You Do a NIST Risk Assessment?

The NIST risk assessment steps are:

  1. Prepare for the assessment. This entails defining the:
    1. Purpose as it relates to what the assessment will produce and what decisions can be made based on the assessment.

    2. Scope as it pertains to time frame, technological considerations, and applicability within the organization.

    3. Related assumptions, constraints, priorities, risk tolerance, and trade-offs.

    4. Information about threat, vulnerability, and impact to be used as inputs.

    5. Risk model, assessment approach, and analysis approach to be used.

  2. Conduct the assessment. Within this step, there are several sub-steps:
    1. Identify threat sources that your business faces.

    2. Recognize what events those threats could produce.

    3. Find any vulnerabilities within your technology that cybercriminals could exploit through the events identified in the previous step.

    4. Determine both the likelihood and the probability of success of each threat event.

    5. Determine what consequences would arise due to each threat event.

    6. Rank the risk level of each event based on your company’s vulnerabilities, the likelihood of a related threat event, and the consequences of each event.

  3. Communicate assessment results to key stakeholders within your business so that they can make informed decisions related to cybersecurity and risk management.

  4. Maintain the assessment. A risk assessment cannot be one and done. You must continue to perform risk monitoring and re-run assessments based on new findings during monitoring. Doing so will allow your company to adjust to new threats and vulnerabilities as needed.

You can find more details about the NIST risk assessment process in NIST 800-30. If you are a part of a small or midsize business, the tasks of performing a risk assessment and keeping up with regular monitoring of your tech stack can be daunting. With Trava Security, it doesn’t have to be. We walk you through every step of your cybersecurity journey no matter what level of experience you come in with.

Conduct Risk Assessments Using Trava Security

No matter what cybersecurity standards you want or need to meet, Trava Security has you covered. We will help you maintain compliance so that your systems stay safe while your staff focuses on other high-level tasks. We will perform scans and risk assessments on your systems so that you know where your vulnerabilities are and how to fix them. With the information our scans provide, too, you can properly insure your company in case of cyber attacks in the future.

If you want to get started on keeping up with NIST standards, check out our cyber risk scoring tool for a free risk assessment.