According to research by Vodafone, more than half of SMEs in the UK have experienced some form of cyberattack. Businesses large and small must take steps to improve their security postures and one of the best places to start is with a cybersecurity risk assessment.
Here we answer some of the most commonly asked questions around the assessment and how to go about booking one for your organisation.
What does a cybersecurity risk assessment involve?
A cybersecurity risk assessment is a systematic process to identify, evaluate, and prioritise potential vulnerabilities and threats to an organisation’s information systems and data. This assessment considers both the likelihood and impact of various cyber threats, with the aim to guide the development of strategies and controls to mitigate risks. The process encompasses reviewing current security measures, identifying vulnerabilities in hardware, software, and human elements, analysing potential threats from both internal and external sources, and evaluating potential consequences of a breach. The outcome provides a foundation for strengthening an organisation’s cybersecurity posture and making informed decisions on security investments.
Who performs the risk assessment?
The assessment is typically performed by cybersecurity specialists, either from an organisation’s internal cybersecurity or IT team or by external consultants with expertise in this area. As it’s usually only very large companies that have internal cybersecurity specialists, assessments are most often conducted by external consultants for smaller businesses. For larger organisations, the process may involve collaboration between various departments, including IT, legal, operations, and human resources, to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the organisation’s assets and potential exposure. Whether conducted internally or externally, it’s crucial for the assessors to maintain objectivity and to prioritise the protection of the organisation’s assets and data over any other interests.
How is the scope of the assessment determined?
The scope of a risk assessment is determined based on an organisation’s objectives, regulatory requirements, and the specific assets and systems deemed critical to its operations. Key considerations include the types of data the organisation handles, the technologies and systems in use, and the specific threats and vulnerabilities relevant to its industry or sector. Input from stakeholders, such as business units, IT, legal, and executive leadership, helps to identify areas of concern or focus. A clearly defined scope ensures that the assessment is both comprehensive and relevant, allowing the organisation to effectively address its unique risks and maintain a secure operational environment.
How are assets identified prior to the assessment?
To identify assets for assessment, the assessor will start by mapping out your organisation’s critical business processes and functions. Following this, they will determine the technologies, systems, and information that support these processes. This includes physical devices like servers and computers, software applications, data repositories, and even intangibles like intellectual property or customer information. They will engage with department heads and key personnel to understand which assets are crucial for daily operations and which contain sensitive or regulated data. They will also consider assets that, if compromised, could cause reputational harm or legal implications. This holistic approach ensures you capture all essential assets that could be potential targets or vulnerabilities in the cybersecurity landscape.
How are threats identified?
Threats encompass the strategies and methods employed by cyber adversaries that could jeopardise an organisation’s assets. To pinpoint threats to individual assets, databases like the MITRE ATT&CK Knowledge Base are leveraged. Reports from security vendors and advisories are valuable for updates on emerging threats across sectors, regions, or technologies. Additionally, understanding an asset’s position within the Lockheed Martin cyber kill chain helps in determining its protective needs, as this model outlines the progression and goals of a typical cyberattack.
How are risks prioritised?
Assessors consider factors like financial loss, operational disruption, legal implications, and reputational damage as priority risk areas. They use a risk matrix to visually categorise risks based on their likelihood and impact, which aids in understanding their relative significance. After categorisation, the assessor will focus on addressing the most severe risks first, with recommendations for allocating resources effectively. Remember that risk appetite varies among organisations; what’s acceptable for one might not be for another, so any risk assessment must align with the risk priorities and unique goals of the organisation.
What is the best way to document and manage the risks?
The assessment team will set out clear documentation on the way to best manage risks. This may involve a centralised risk register or dedicated risk management software. This repository will detail each risk’s nature, its likelihood, potential impact, mitigation measures, and responsible parties. Integrating the risk management process into the organisation’s daily operations and decision-making is a key outcome of a risk assessment.
What are five main reasons I should book a cybersecurity risk assessment today?
In summary, then, the here are five key reasons you should consider booking a cybersecurity risk assessment for your organisation today.
- Protect Valuable Assets – Cybersecurity risk assessments help identify and protect your organisation’s most valuable assets, preventing unauthorised access, data breaches, and potential financial losses.
- Regulatory Compliance – Many industries are governed by regulations that mandate regular cybersecurity assessments. Non-compliance can lead to penalties, legal consequences, and reputational damage.
- Proactive Threat Management – The assessment identifies emerging threats and vulnerabilities, enabling your organisation to take proactive measures before a breach occurs, rather than reacting after the fact.
- Optimised Resource Allocation – Understanding where vulnerabilities exist helps your organisation to prioritise and allocate resources efficiently, ensuring the highest risks are addressed first.
- Stakeholder Confidence – Demonstrating a commitment to cybersecurity boosts trust among customers, partners, and investors, ensuring them that their data and interactions with your organisation are secure.
Book an assessment today
The help4IT team offer a range of cybersecurity solutions suited to both small and medium-sized companies as well as larger organisations. Hackers will stop at nothing to get to your valuable data, and it’s up to you to protect your business. Ignoring cybersecurity may work in the short term, but the time to be proactive is now. Book a cybersecurity risk assessment with us today.