Cyber Security Risk Assessment: How To Do It?

Cyber security risk assessment is a process that helps organisations identify and mitigate cyber threats. It is important that you assess your own organisation's risks and make sure they are minimised. This can be challenging, especially if you are a small business owner or manager with limited resources. 

In this article, learn about what it takes to conduct a Cyber Security Risk Assessment, the process of conducting one, and why organisations need to conduct one. 

What is Cyber Risk and how does it relate to Cyber Security Risk Assessments? 

Overall, cyber risk is the threat of information systems being compromised or used in ways harmful to the organisation. It is the threat of hackers accessing sensitive data, stealing intellectual property, and disrupting operations. 

Once you are able to understand what cyber risk is and what it entails, risk assessments are what you should be looking at next in your journey to data protection compliance. 

A cyber security risk assessment can help you understand and identify the following: 

  • How your organisation's IT infrastructure has been compromised over time, allowing you to better identify vulnerabilities that may have been missed  
  • How different types of vulnerabilities can affect your organisation's ability to be prepared for a cyber attack 
  • Different kinds of potential threats to the security of your network and computer systems 
  • How to identify any threats against your organisation's systems, networks, or assets (such as intellectual property) 
  • How to determine how well you are protecting your data from unauthorised access and use, including via external actors such as hackers 
  • How to assess your organisation's ability to respond to an incident if one occurs 
  • How to determine if your organisation needs to invest in more advanced security measures like firewalls, antivirus software and data encryption tools 

Why perform a Cyber Security Risk Assessment? 

A Cyber Security Risk Assessment can help you identify and assess the risks that your organisation faces from hackers. These risks are likely to pose a serious threat to your organisation. 

It is important to have an idea of what these risks are, and how much you can afford to spend on them. Below are a few other reasons you would want to perform a Cyber Security Risk Assessment:

  • Reduction of long-term costs 
  • Provides a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment Template for future assessments 
  • Better organisational knowledge 
  • Avoid data breaches 
  • Avoid regulatory issues 
  • Avoid application downtime 
  • Data loss 

A Cyber Security Risk Assessment first looks at the types of attacks your organisation is most vulnerable to, then determines what steps you need to take to protect yourself from these attacks.This information helps you make informed decisions about how best to protect your organisation without spending too much money or time on unnecessary measures. 

Who should perform a Cyber Security Risk Assessment? 

A good cyber security risk assessment can also help you make decisions about what kind of security measures you need to take, whether that means hiring more people or investing in new technology.  

It is best for organisations to have in-house risk assessment teams. This includes having IT personnel that are familiar with your digital and network infrastructure, executives who are familiar with the flow of information, and any other private organisational knowledge that may be relevant during the evaluation. 

Cyber Risk Assessments need transparency and communication through the organisation as a whole. Small organisations may be unable to conduct a complete evaluation in-house and so may enlist the help of a third party. 

Organisations are also relying on software to monitor their cybersecurity score, prevent breaches, distribute security questionnaires, and limit the danger of third-party attacks. 

How do you perform a Cyber Security Risk Assessment? 

A Cyber Risk Assessment is a process that you can use to identify any potential risks that might be associated with your organisation's digital network. You may want to perform this process regularly, or at least once a year, to make sure that your network is operating as safely and securely as possible. 

  1. Analyse the current state of your organisation's data centre, including its physical security, staffing levels and training, as well as its technology infrastructure. 
  2. Evaluate ways that hackers could infiltrate your network and access sensitive data. 
  3. Analyse how hackers might use social engineering techniques such as phishing emails or fake websites designed to look like legitimate ones so they can gain access into systems that are not properly secured by firewalls or other measures designed to protect against outside attacks. 
  4. Perform a security audit of all digital assets within your organisation which includes both internal servers and external devices connected via wireless networks such as smartphones.
     

The UK GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the NIS Regulations (The Network and Information Systems Regulations) have established harsh measures that can make or break an organisation's response to a cyber security incident. 

Controlling your risks, costs, and exposure all depend on how quickly you can recognize and minimise such situations. It is possible to save your organisation millions of pounds by doing an effective assessment of its cyber risk. 

Why do organisations need incident response planning? 

Incident response planning is a critical component of data protection in any organisation, but it is especially important for organisations that are larger and more complex. The simple reason for this is that incidents can quickly become disasters if they are not handled correctly. 

You are also able to set up systems that allow you to monitor all activities within your network including email traffic and social media posts and respond automatically if anything suspicious happens. 

What are the incident reporting requirements under the UK GDPR and NIS Directive? 

As an organisation, you have an obligation to report any data breaches to the appropriate authorities. If you think that your data has been stolen or compromised, it is important that you take steps to protect yourself and your organisation. 

If you are an organisation with fewer than 250 employees, the UK GDPR only applies to personal data that is processed by you. If you are an organisation with more than 250 employees, you must comply with both the UK GDPR and the NIS Directive (or a similar set of laws). 

Under the UK GDPR, organisations are required to notify relevant individuals about data breaches within 72 hours of becoming aware of them. If possible, they must also notify regulators and law enforcement agencies as soon as possible. 

Under the NIS Directive, organisations must notify regulators if they suspect they have experienced a security incident that could put their customers at risk. 

What are the frameworks that outline and require incident response measures? 

Incident response frameworks help outline your organisation's overall incident response plan, as well as the measures you will put in place to respond to incidents. 

Incident response is required under the following standards:

  • ISO 27001 (information security management system) - The international standard for an Information Security Management System (ISMS). 
  • ISO 22301 (business continuity management system) - The international BCMS standard. 
  • The PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) 

Under the rules of the Cabinet Office's security policy framework, UK government agencies must also report cyber events, thereby requiring a CIR for such organisations. 

What are the two types of risk management techniques?

Risk management is the process of evaluating and understanding risks, as well as determining how to manage them. It can also be defined as the method of predicting the occurrence of undesirable events in an organisation. 

Risk management techniques can be divided into three categories: 

Component-driven risk management techniques 

System-driven risk management techniques 

Integrated risk management techniques 

These techniques focus on identifying and managing risks by applying a specific approach to each component of a system 

These techniques focus on identifying and managing risks by analysing an entire system or organisation as a whole 

This combines both component-driven and system-driven approaches by using both approaches at once 

 

These techniques are different from the traditional techniques of risk assessment, which is a process used to determine the likelihood of risk occurring. 

Conclusion 

The need for cyber security risk assessment is clear. It is an important part of not just any organisational operation, but an important aspect of data protection to be able compete in today’s rapidly changing world. 

If you are interested in learning about other data protection standards like ISO 27001, read our comprehensive blog on how to get started with ISO 27001 certification. 

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