What is a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment?
Completing a cybersecurity risk assessment means deciding what could go wrong should an IT risk materialize, and subsequently determining the impact, likelihood, and assurance of that risk. The types of systems involved include your networks, infrastructure, policies, servers or applications. An enterprise-wide assessment (separate from your cycle of readiness assessments performed to evaluate alignment with IT compliance frameworks) typically takes about 30-60 days to complete and is performed at least every 1-2 years.
Your cybersecurity risk assessment should not be viewed as mutually exclusive from your IT risk management program; to understand the relationship between the two, think of your cybersecurity risk assessment as a point-in-time review of your organization’s people, applications, policies, and procedures with a goal of uncovering vulnerabilities. Simultaneously, IT risk management is an ongoing process where you are mitigating, monitoring, and reporting on all of those risks identified and working continuously towards preventing them.
Let’s say your company’s database was hacked. When things hit the fan, can you demonstrate that you were doing everything correctly on your end? Did you follow guidelines and review their effectiveness? Could you quickly present relevant and accurate information to examiners or auditors? Assessing cybersecurity risk ahead of time through automated software significantly reduces the manual time and re-work typically associated with this process.
In today’s business environment, technological advancements easily outpace regulatory requirements and standards. Such advancements prove to be a double-edged sword; although this streamlines operational capacity, reduces costs, and increases efficiency, it also opens up new vulnerabilities. New technologies mean new tools for both businesses and attackers alike, but the more you rely on technology, the more exposed you are to related weaknesses. Some common cybersecurity threats today include:
- Hacking, resulting in data loss or theft
- Impersonation of executives to retrieve confidential information
- Knowledge, privilege or data abuse
- Unapproved hardware or software installation
- Polymorphic malware
Cyber risk does not discriminate; any organization operating today inevitably has countless cyber aspects to its operations. Whether it’s touchpoints with other applications or platforms, employees processing potentially sensitive data, or maintaining an online presence, cyber risk is never a hypothetical.