With the doors firmly shutting in 2021, we must focus on 2022. Like every aspect of our lives, we need to make new year IT support resolutions. 2021 has already had a lot of talking points from the cybersecurity perspective. For instance, According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) Q3 Data Breach Analysis, as of October 2021, the number of data breaches reported in 2021 had already exceeded those of 2020, thereby making 2021 a record year. Even more alarming has been the surge in malware and ransomware attacks. Between 2019 and 2021, there was a 62% increase in ransomware attacks; this is according to the 2021 Cyber Threat Report by SonicWall.
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The events of 2021 are a clarion call for individuals, organizations, government agencies, and cybersecurity experts to rise to the occasion and do thorough preparation for 2022 and the years that follow. From past trends, you can only expect cybersecurity risks to continue increasing and not to decrease. Good preparation starts with performing a cyber risks analysis. If you do not know what that is, there is no need to worry. This article explains everything you should know about performing a cyber risk analysis.
Meaning of Cyber Risk Analysis
Cybersecurity risk analysis is the process of determining the degree of harm a data breach or cyber attack would cause to your organization. Cybersecurity analysis will help you to make informed cybersecurity choices and decisions by identifying the most susceptible digital resources, the likelihood of the attack occurring, and the impact the attack will cause if it occurs. This way, organizations, individuals, and other key cybersecurity stakeholders can know the essential cybersecurity tools and measures to mitigate such risks.
A Step By Step Guide To Conducting A Successful Cybersecurity Risk Analysis
The following are the steps to follow to perform a cyber risk analysis;
- Outline the Scope of the Risk Analysis
The first crucial step in conducting a security risk analysis is outlining the scope of the risk analysis. Here, you have to determine which unit of the organization you are most interested in. For instance, you can analyze the risk on a department, web application, website domain, etc. You can also target the whole organization if it has an interconnected IT infrastructure. When performing the cybersecurity risk analysis, you must cooperate with all the stakeholders within the organization.
- Catalog all Network Resources and Assets
Next, you must take inventory of all IT resources and assets falling under the analysis. Here, it would help if you documented all digital assets, including your phones, servers, printers, computers, tablets, networks, WiFis, among others.
All data types and departments with access privileges to these assets should be listed, and vendors with access to information should also be noted down. It is important to trace down the path that data follows as it travels across the digital assets.
Also, do not take dormant assets lightly. In most cases, the most innocuous device can be the root cause of all cybersecurity troubles your organization will face. Lastly, never forget to take inventory of the resources located outside your physical organization. If you use cloud-storage systems or a customer relationship management tool, you must note them down.
- Develop Cybersecurity Controls
The next step you must take is to seal all the loopholes that might open your network to attacks. There are several measures you can employ to ensure that your network is safe. Having robust security protocols and an effective plan to manage all your sensitive data can go a long way toward ensuring that your network resources are secure. There are several security controls that you can adopt. They include the following;
- Installing a firewall
- Enforcing best password policies and practices for all employees and stakeholders within your organization
- Employ robust data encryption algorithms
- Using antimalware and antivirus security tools
- Employing two-factor authentication procedures to strengthen user authentication during signing in
- Using security plugins and extensions
- Employing a reliable hosting provider for your website
- Ensuring that you run on up to date software and operating systems
- Having a robust and reliable data backup and recovery system
It is always advised that you employ multiple security layers to strengthen your security walls. And for websites, always ensure that you purchase and install SSL certificates. SSL combines with HTTP to give rise to HTTPS, which is a secure transfer protocol. All communication and data transfers that occur via HTTPS sessions will be encrypted. Today, with most websites having multiple level-one subdomains, the Wildcard SSL certificate is the most viable certificate option users can choose. Just a cost-effective, cheap wildcard SSL will do a great encryption job for securing your chosen main domain and an unlimited number of first-level subdomains under it.
- Find Potential Network Loopholes and the Associated Risks
The next procedure is to find the vulnerable spots that the cataloged devices are susceptible to. Knowing where exactly the threats can come into your system will help you to better understand how you can safeguard your system against such threats. Now, you should know that cybersecurity threats will not target every digital resource in your organization. For this reason, you must identify the assets that are more valuable to attackers and check to see any vulnerabilities in them.
Threat identification is often not an easy task. You should know the possible tricks, tactics, and methods that an attacker is likely to leverage to target your network and resources. It is important to note that most attackers usually have motives. You must research to note the driving force that will drive hackers to hack your digital assets.
- Determine the Risk Priority Scale
Here, it would help if you classified the cybersecurity threats based on the likelihood of them happening. It would be best to set up a threshold tolerance level so that any level scenario appearing above the threshold should be given high priority.
From the risk priority scale, you will be able to decide the right course of action to take. Essentially, it would help to start by dealing with the risks that appear top of your risk priority scale.
- Evaluate The Effectiveness of The Controls and Repeat the Procedure
An excellent risk analysis procedure should encompass the ability to measure the results and also offer the assessor the opportunity to continue improving the processes. Indeed, networks and systems are continually evolving, and new devices are emerging on the market every passing day. Therefore, the risk assessment procedure should give an allowance to also assess new assets that the organization acquires over time. In a nutshell, an effective cyber risk analysis gives a clear framework for continuing to deal with cybersecurity risk.
Cybersecurity risk analysis is not a one-time thing, and it is something that should be performed frequently. For instance, you can conduct the analysis annually or semi-annually to ensure that no high-risk security vulnerabilities are left behind.
- Document The Results on Your Risk Assessment Report
Last but not least, you will have to develop a cybersecurity risk assessment report. The report is crucial because it will help the management make informed decisions such as budget, cybersecurity policies, procedures and many more. A good risk assessment report describes the asset or resources, its associated risk or vulnerability, the value of the risk, the impact, and the likelihood of the risk occurring.
Whether you are a small business, a governmental agency or a multinational eCommerce store, information risk management is the backbone of your cybersecurity strategy. It all starts with a cyber risk analysis which has been elaborated in this article. Cyber risk analysis is the genesis of everything needed to avert potential cybersecurity threats. Remember to conduct the analysis more frequently to remain a step ahead of hackers.