Managing cybersecurity in your environment is all about understanding, managing, controlling and mitigating the risk to your organisation’s critical assets.
If you think you’re securing your business just by installing anti-virus software with no additional checks or training, you are vulnerable to an attack. You are at risk whether or not you have deployed security services. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather have the best security tools on hand to prevent or ward off sophisticated attacks.
Before you get started, it’s important to answer the following questions:
- What are the organisation’s critical information technology assets (data)?
- What are the business processes that require this information to run effectively?
- What threats can affect the functionality of these processes?
When you know what requires protection, you can put your resources to better use keeping this information safe. It’s best to focus your investment on guarding against the highest-priority security risk, but it is advisable to adopt a layered approach to IT security.
Typically, organisations will have some sort of comprehensive enterprise risk management framework. However, for immediate risk assessment, we have compiled a five-step plan that will help your organisation lay the foundation for a successful security strategy.
- Collect and assess information
The first step is to take stock of your business resources and understand what hardware, software and data assets you have. Once you know this, you need to discern which of these are business-critical. To do so, you can think about your business’s key objectives and what assets are essential to meeting the goals that are aligned with your business strategy. This will probably be the longest step in the process, but being as comprehensive as possible lays the foundation for deriving real value from a security risk assessment.
- What are your greatest threats and vulnerabilities?
So now that you know what you have and what you need to secure, it’s important to understand what is considered a threat to your organisation. You should also assess any vulnerabilities you might have. Once this step of the security risk assessment is completed, you should have a detailed list of your potential threats and how your vulnerabilities can expose you to greater risks.
- Estimate the impact
This step in the process requires that you forecast what could happen to your business if each of the threats become realities. Classify the impact to see whether it’s low, medium or high. What adverse impact will a robbery, data breach or system downtime have on your business and your brand? Security-related incidents are usually classified in terms of how the event affects your integrity, availability and confidentiality. There are qualitative and quantitative approaches and methods to assist you with this.
- Review and plan the controls
Now that you’ve determined how bad things could get, it’s time to plan how to prevent things from ever getting that bad. What strategies and controls can you implement to mitigate or eliminate the identified risks? You’ll never be able to remove all the risks, but the aim is to reduce them to a manageable level. Security policies and controls outline the specific responsibilities of different groups of people – from the procurement and setting-up of new infrastructure to the implementation of new processes.
- Tools and techniques to aid security
So now you know what could happen if things went wrong and how you want to prevent that from happening, it’s time to decide what tools and techniques you should be using to mitigate threats. This part of the security risk assessment is about getting down to the nitty-gritty of IT security. How will you implement password systems? What tools will be used to automate data backups? And what techniques will you employ to manage user accounts? This is when you need to find the right solutions and procedures to match your company’s unique requirements.
Lastly, ensure continuous monitoring (controls, threat assessment and risk analysis) and repeat this cycle periodically because threats are evolving rapidly.