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6 Critical Steps for Effective Cybersecurity Risk Management

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Two people touching a interactive display about Cybersecurity Risk Management

Cybersecurity risk management is usually about understanding, controlling, and mitigating the risks that your organization’s critical assets face. Effective cybersecurity risk management allows your organization to confidently embrace the emerging solutions and to leverage third and fourth-party vendors without having to worry about compromising your cybersecurity status.

The first step of cybersecurity risk management is carrying out a cyber risk assessment. This will give you a clear picture of the threats that might compromise your organization’s cybersecurity and how severe they might be. Here are critical steps for effective cybersecurity risk management that you should know.

1. Identify and Prioritize Your Assets

You need to identify and prioritize your assets. Assets include things like clients’ data, servers, and sensitive partner documents, among other critical assets your organization may identify. It’s important to work with the management and business users to create a list of all the valuable assets. Also, it’s important to define a standard for determining the importance of specific assets.

The common criteria for defining the importance of each asset include monetary value, legal standing, and importance of each asset to the organization. Once the standard is approved by the management, and formally incorporated into your organization’s risk assessment security policy, use it to classify the identified assets as critical, major, or minor.

2. Identify Cyber Threats

Identify threats faced by each of the recorded assets. For instance, your organization could be facing a risk of unauthorized access to clients’ data. The risk for unauthorized access can be posed by a direct hacking attack, malware attack, or internal risks. You may also face misuse of information by authorized users as a result of an unproved use of data or changes made without approval.

Also, look out for data leakage or unintentional exposure of information. This includes permitting the use of an unencrypted USB without restriction, transmitting Non-Public Personal Information (NPPI) over unsecured channels, or mistakenly sending confidential information to the wrong recipient.

3. Identify the Vulnerabilities

After coming up with possible threats, you need to identify the vulnerabilities and leading conditions affecting the likelihood that threats will negatively impact the organization. A vulnerability is a weakness that could give a threat the possibility of harming your organization. Vulnerabilities can be identified through analysis, audit reports, information security tests, evaluation procedures, and automated vulnerability scanning tools. In this case, you need security experts to help in the process.

4. Analyze Controls and Implement New Controls

Analyze controls that are in place in your organization to minimize or eliminate the probability of identified threats or vulnerabilities. Controls can be implemented through technical means, such as hardware or software, encryption, continuous data leak detection, intrusion detection mechanisms, two-factor authentication, and automatic updates, among other technical means. Controls can also be implemented through non-technical means, such as security policies and physical mechanisms like locks or keycard access.

5. Determine the Likelihood of Exploitation

Assess the probability that a vulnerability might actually be exploited by cyber attackers, taking into consideration the type of vulnerability, the capability and motivation of the threat source. Also, assess the existence and effectiveness of your organization’s controls. You should use these inputs to determine how much to spend to mitigate each of the identified cyber risks. Cask Government Services has qualified experts to help in this process.

6. Prioritize the Risks and Document Your Results

You now need to prioritize different risks based on the cost of prevention versus the value of information. You can use risk level as the basis for assigning actions to the senior management or other responsible experts in order to mitigate the cited risks. As you evaluate various controls to mitigate each risk, consider the organizational policies, cost-benefit analysis, feasibility, regulations, and safety and reliability, among other factors relevant to your organization.

Finally, you need to develop a risk management report to support the decision-making on budget, policies, and procedures. For every specific threat, the report should describe the risk, vulnerabilities, and its value. You should also include the impact, likelihood of an incident taking place, and recommendations for control. As your organization works through this process, you’ll understand the kind of infrastructure you operate,  your most valuable data, and how you can effectively operate and secure your organization.

At Cask Government Services, we help you to meet your strategic security goals by understanding your organizational strengths and weaknesses. Contact us today to learn more and get started.

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