A cybersecurity risk assessment improves the future security of an organization. However, it is a detailed and complex undertaking, which requires time and resources. A cybersecurity risk assessment comprises five major categories: scoping, risk identification, analysis, evaluation, and documentation. Here is how you can go about the matter.
Determine the Risk Assessment Scope
Before you start a risk assessment, you must know what comes under the scope of assessment. You must have the support of all stakeholders involved in the scope of the assessment and may require a third party specializing in risk assessment for additional help. Those involved in the risk assessment process must be familiar with the employed technology to ensure understanding. Review standards and frameworks and avoid using a compliance-oriented approach, as it does not guarantee that your organization is not a risk.
Identify Cybersecurity Risks
Start by identifying your assets and formulating an inventory of all that comes under the scope of risk assessment. Create a network architecture diagram from the asset inventory list to visualize the interconnectivity between assets, processes, and entry points into the network. This makes threat identification easier.
Then, identify the risks that may cause potential harm to an organization’s assets. Use a threat library and find out where each asset falls in the cyber kill chain. The cyber kill chain helps you map out all the stages and objectives similar to a real-world attack and determine the kind of protection you may require.
Finally, identify what may go wrong. Summarize and organize all relevant information to make it easier for stakeholders to understand their risks. Moreover, it helps security teams identify the necessary and appropriate measures to address those risks
Analyze Risks and Determine the Potential Impact
Impact refers to the magnitude of harm that may result from the consequences of a threat on a vulnerability. Analyze the risks and determine the likelihood of these scenarios occurring in reality and their impact on the organization. The risk likelihood should be determined on the discoverability, exploitability, and reproducibility of threats and vulnerabilities. Rank likelihood on a scale of 1: rare to 5: highly likely. For impact, use a scale of 1: negligible to 5: very severe.
Determine and Prioritize Risks
Classify every risk scenario using a risk matrix. Any risk scenario above the organization’s tolerance level must be prioritized and addressed. Discontinue an activity if the risk outweighs the benefits. Share a part of the risk with other parties via cyber insurance or outsourcing operation to third parties. Deploy security controls to reduce the likelihood and impact levels. Leave room for an acceptable level of residual risk as no system can be 100% secure
Document the Risks
Document all identified risks and scenarios in a cash register. Review and update these risks regularly to ensure that management is aware of its cybersecurity risks. Be sure to include the risk scenario, identification date, current security controls, risk level, treatment plan, progress status, residual risk, and risk owner.