Every business needs a cybersecurity risk assessment these days.
Recognizing and understanding the specific risks facing your business makes you better prepared to plan for potential scenarios outside your control. What would happen if your employee falls for a phishing email and your customer data gets held by ransomware? How likely is that to happen? Asking questions like that through a risk assessment has become one of the most critical projects for any business to undertake.
You can avoid many kinds of business disruptions and disasters by conducting a thorough risk assessment of your business, to lay the groundwork for a comprehensive disaster management plan. Continue reading to see how.
A risk assessment is a comprehensive survey and analysis of all the risks that your business faces. It’s also a key part of any business continuity and disaster recovery plan. While there are certain risks that unite every business – such as those associated with information security – still others will hinge on specifics like your company’s geography, industry, and organizational structure. Here’s how to get started conducting a thorough risk assessment of your business.
While many risk assessment guides start with identifying possible business risks, sometimes kicking things off with the company’s assets may prove more beneficial. This approach creates a tailored, specific assessment that thoroughly captures all risks associated specifically with your company.
Every company has assets, things that they use to carry out the vital functions of the business. Among these include:
Data security and privacy hinge on reducing and mitigating your risks of a breach, theft, or corruption of confidential information.
Hazards, or business risks, refer to events or conditions that might result in a loss of profit due to uncertainties. These events are typically unforeseen and may happen suddenly, giving the company little or no time to take proactive steps once the hazard occurs, seeming inevitable. With a risk assessment, we want to identify these hazards. There are different types of risks that might affect a business:
We can’t actually plan for every hazard in existence. Start with known risks according to geography, industry, and the company. Then, use a risk assessment matrix or another analysis of your business assets to explore the possible unknown risks that you may be overlooking. (Our experts at Team Securicy help conduct or review risk assessment.)
For most companies, a global pandemic was not on their cybersecurity risk assessment. But companies with a risk assessment (as well as a full business continuity and disaster plan) were more prepared for the disruptions brought on by COVID-19, the rapid shift to remote work, and the rise of malicious actors jumping to profit off of coronavirus anxiety.
Every asset will have vulnerabilities on some level that make it susceptible to a given set of hazards. A risk assessment seeks to identify and mitigate those vulnerabilities. During the impact analysis, you’ll take a look at the different ways in which each hazard or risk might affect assets and the wider business operations. Some impacts or consequences to consider might include:
Identify the consequences associated with each asset should it be rendered non-functional, compromised, or eliminated entirely. Then, determine the likelihood that those vulnerabilities will be liabilities in the event of a disaster, or exploited by an actor. That will help you identify the weak spots in your disaster planning and information security strategy.
Figure out what it will take to protect an asset, either by mitigating or eliminating vulnerabilities, or replacing the asset with a more secure alternative. Follow these tips to ensure that your plan remains cost-effective:
Finally, use the information acquired in the risk assessment above to create a risk assessment policy. This policy should contain the framework necessary to analyze each new asset as it enters the company in the matrix of known threats. It should also include recommendations on how best to secure the asset in the context of your security policy. Also consider adding policies regarding:
A risk assessment policy is a vital tool for any company interested in developing a robust information security strategy. That’s why we include a risk assessment tool with each free Securicy account, as well as essential security policies addressing topics like remote work, and a Business Continuity Plan Builder. If your security program is just starting out, free templates, tools, and expert advice will help get you on the right track.
It’s an essential step in business continuity and disaster planning and creates a map of your company’s operational landscape. If you haven’t conducted a risk assessment of your company, you need to as soon as possible. Forewarned is forearmed and being prepared goes a long way to ensuring your company survives the worst-case scenarios.