Understanding Cybersecurity Risk Assessment
In rudimentary terms, a cybersecurity risk assessment refers to the act of understanding, managing, controlling and mitigating cybersecurity risks across your business’ infrastructure.
In its Cybersecurity Framework (CSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) states that the purpose of cybersecurity risk assessments is to “identify, estimate and prioritize risk to organizational operations, assets, individuals, other organizations and the Nation, resulting from the operation and use of information systems.”
The primary purpose of a cybersecurity risk assessment is to help key decision-makers take informed decisions to tackle prevalent and imminent risks. Ideally, an assessment must answer the following questions:
- What are your business’ key IT assets?
- What type of data breach would have a major impact on your business?
- What are the relevant threats to your business and their sources?
- What are the internal and external security vulnerabilities?
- What would be the impact if any of the vulnerabilities were exploited?
- What is the probability of a vulnerability being exploited?
- What cyberattacks or security threats could impact your business’ ability to function?
The answers to these questions will help you keep track of security risks and mitigate them before disaster strikes. Now, imagine periodically having the answers to these questions whenever you sit down to make key business decisions
No business today is 100 percent secure from cyberthreats and more businesses are waking up to this reality now than ever before. It’s no wonder cybersecurity investment in 2020 is pegged to grow by 5.6 percent to reach nearly $43.1 billion in value.1 With cyberattacks surging due to widespread remote work and increased online interactions during the pandemic, it seems likely that this trend will only continue to grow further.
While 58 percent of IT leaders and practitioners consider improving IT security their topmost priority, nearly 53 percent of them find cybersecurity and data protection to be among their biggest challenges as well.2 That’s primarily because cybersecurity is not a one-and-done exercise. Your business might be safe now but could be unsafe the very next minute. Securing your business’ mission critical data and the data of your invaluable clients/customers requires undeterred effort sustained over a long period of time. While there are several pieces to this puzzle, the most important one, considering today’s threat landscape, is ongoing risk management.