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What is a Cyber Risk Assessment?

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A cyber security risk assessment identifies the information assets that could be affected by a cyber attack (such as hardware, systems, laptops, customer data and intellectual property). It then identifies the risks that could affect those assets.

Risk assessments are part of the ongoing process of managing the cybersecurity risk. Poor preparation means you may be unable to respond effectively to a breach or incident.

It’s important to remember that no two risk assessments or security measures are identical and an assessment should be adapted to your particular business needs.

The potential risks for cyber security come in two main forms – threats and vulnerabilities:

Threats are the events that jeopardise cyber security (such as a vulnerability being exploited by a hacker).

are the events that jeopardise cyber security (such as a vulnerability being exploited by a hacker). Vulnerabilities are the weaknesses that allow threats to be successful.

Types of threat

Threats include:

  • Vulnerabilities
  • Risks

Vulnerabilities are vulnerabilities that are associated with specific threats. The vulnerabilities and their associated risks are then assessed.

Risks come in three main forms:

  • Short term – Represents the reduction of business value, organisational effectiveness or reputation.
  • Intermediate term – Represents the risk of organisational failure or negative regulatory consequences.
  • Long term – Represents the risk of catastrophic loss of the business.

There are two methods of identifying vulnerabilities, threats and associated risks:

1. The information security management system (ISMS)

A cyber security risk assessment will be conducted on an ongoing basis due to regular updates of the assessment. The ISMS is constantly updated to reflect current information.

A cyber security risk assessment will be conducted on an ongoing basis due to regular updates of the assessment. The ISMS is constantly updated to reflect current information.

2. The Risk Analysis Framework

This framework is used only to assess new security data, rather than existing information.

Regardless of which method you use, it’s important that you acknowledge the existence of threats and vulnerabilities before you can come up with a strategy to deal with them.

Identify risks to business continuity

Businesses can never be too careful when it comes to identifying risks to their IT security.

1. Identify your data assets

A cyber risk assessment will identify the information assets that could be affected by a cyber attack (such as hardware, systems, laptops, customer data and intellectual property). Remember to include intellectual property along with physical and human assets.

2. Identify the controls you have in place to protect your data

By doing so, you can identify any controls that you may need to improve or implement. Security controls and countermeasures are designed to protect your data assets from risks.

3. Identify your key business data

Your IT systems store and process key business data. It’s important to identify what this data is and how you will protect it from any risks.

4. Cost-effective cyber security

A successful cyber security strategy helps you to reduce costs (such as disaster preparedness costs or costs associated with a major attack).

Analysing your data assets

A data value analysis helps to quantify the costs of protecting your data against cyber attacks. This exercise will help you to understand the cost of the risks related to your data.

Calculate the potential loss if a cyber attack occurred. The loss can be calculated in a number of ways:

  • Actual and probable loss of income
  • Potential loss to reputation
  • Lost opportunities
  • Incremental costs (the cost of prevention, monitoring, remediation or re-issuing credentials)
  • Loss of reputation
  • Loss of business continuity

Protecting your data

The most important part of your cyber security strategy is to protect your data. To do so, you’ll need to implement a cyber security plan (to mitigate, detect and respond to any threats or vulnerabilities).

Mitigate the risk

The main aim is to prevent any incidents from occurring. A cyber security risk assessment will identify the main threats and vulnerabilities in your systems and processes. This data will help you to implement appropriate countermeasures, which are designed to prevent specific threats.

For example, you could check your IT infrastructure for malware regularly or implement antivirus software. However, if an attack does happen, it’s important to be prepared to deal with the consequences.

Detect the threat

It’s vital to be able to identify when an attack is happening to your systems and to be able to respond quickly and effectively. There are a wide variety of strategies you could implement:

1. Review data logs

Ensure that logs are being captured and monitored, so that any suspicious activity can be identified.

Ensure that logs are being captured and monitored, so that any suspicious activity can be identified.

2. Perform regular audits of your key data

It’s important to be able to show people that your data is protected properly from any exfiltration.

It’s important to be able to show people that your data is protected properly from any exfiltration.

3. Conduct a cyber security risk assessment

Regular risk assessments help you to identify any new risks and areas of improvement.

Regular risk assessments help you to identify any new risks and areas of improvement.

4. Check your backups

Backups are really important to have in place to enable you to restore any data which might have been lost during a cyber attack.

As part of your IT infrastructure, you should also implement a cyber security plan to help you to detect and respond to any incidents.

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