As organizations rely more on information systems to do business, the inherent risks increase, which means all organizations are at risk of a cyber-attack. A cybersecurity risk assessment is about determining, managing, and controlling cyber risk across your organization. Managing risk, Is integral to any organization-wide risk management strategy. This article will guide you on how to perform the cyber risk assessment, reduce costly security incidents and avoid compliance issues.

What is Cyber Risk Assessment?

Cyber risk assessments are used to identify and rank the risk to operations and organizational assets resulting from the use of information systems.

The primary purpose of a cyber risk assessment is to provide an executive summary to help decision-makers and understand the value of the information you are trying to protect.

How to Perform a Cyber Risk Assessment?

A cybersecurity risk assessment is a large and continuous undertaking, so time and resources need to be made available to improve the security, identify potential threats, provide a template or avoid application downtime. It will need to be repeated as new threats arise, and new activities are introduced.

Ideally, your organization having IT staff with an understanding of how your infrastructure work, as well as directors who understand how information flows.

Now let's look at the steps that need to be taken to complete a comprehensive cyber risk assessment.

Step 1: Determine Information Value

You can't protect what you don't know, the first task is to identify what data, know what infrastructure you have, and the value of this data.

Summarizing this information helpful to understand the risk that faced security teams to identify best practices to avoid the risk.
Most organizations don't have a large budget for information risk management, so you need to limit your scope to the most business-critical assets. A third-party specializing in risk assessments may be needed to help you.

Step 2:  Prioritize Assets

After you already identify assets and risk assessment, this will allow you to prioritize which assets to assess. You need to work with business users and management to create the asset inventory list. It is a great way to visualize the interconnectivity paths between assets and processes.

There are some threats that will be in every risk assessment, common threat types include Unauthorized access, Misuse of information, or data leakage.

Step 3: Risk Analysis

Now it’s time to determine the likelihood of the risk, which refers to the harm to the organization resulting from the threat of exploiting a vulnerability. You need to have strong IT security controls including data backups, password manager, etc.

While hackers, malware, and another leap to mind, there are many other threats such as Natural disasters, System failure, and Human error.

Step 4: Identify Vulnerabilities

Now it's time to identify what has a chance of happening. A vulnerability is a threat that can exploit to harm your organization or steal data. They are found through vulnerability analysis, vendor reports, and security analysis.

You can reduce software threats with proper patch management via automatic forced updates. However, the chance of anyone's access to an organization's system is reduced by having key card access.

Step 5: Analyze Controls

Now, you should be determining the likelihood of the exploit considering the organization environment has in place. Analyze controls that are in place to minimize vulnerability. Controls can be implemented through encryption, intrusion detection mechanisms, or two-factor authentication.

Preventative controls attempt to apply encryption, antivirus, or continuous security monitoring, and detective controls try to discover when an attack occurs such as continuous disclosure of data.

Step 6: Calculate your Risk Rating

Now that you know the value of information, vulnerabilities, and controls, the next step is to determine the likelihood and impact of these cyber risks should they occur. It all comes down to a simple equation: Impact (if exploited) * Likelihood (of exploit in the assessed control environment) = Risk Rating.

Some examples of risk ratings are:

High–An urgent threat to the organization exists and risk reduction should be immediate.

Medium–risk reduction treatment should be completed in a reasonable period.

Low–Threats are normal and generally acceptable.

Step 7: Documentation

It's important to document all identified risks in a risk register. This should be regularly updated to ensure that management always has an updated account of its cybersecurity risks. Develop a risk assessment report to help management in making decisions on policies and procedures.

A successful risk assessment process should be aligned with your business objectives and help you reduce risks cost-effectively. You can then create a risk assessment policy that outlines what your organization must do to monitor its security posture, how the risks are mitigated, and how the following risk assessment will be carried out.