Cybersecurity risk assessments are an essential element to any information security program. But, as the technology landscape continues to evolve, ensuring your company’s data isn’t vulnerable to a potential threat has become slightly more complicated.

So, how do you get a comprehensive evaluation of your company’s vulnerability level? And, where do you start? Let’s look at some answers to these questions.

6 Essential Steps for an Effective Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

A great resource for learning how risk assessments are performed is The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Guide for Conducting Risk Assessments. The NIST 800-30 Rev. 1 outlines these six steps for effective cybersecurity risk assessment:

1. Identify Threat Sources

The first step to an effective risk assessment is to identify and classify threat sources. Some examples of the different categories included are “Adversarial Threats” (e.g. hostile nation-states and organized crime groups) and “Environmental Threats” (e.g. hurricanes and earthquakes). Several organizations offer comprehensive threat catalogues such as CMS, BSI, ENISA.

2. Identify Threat Events

The second step is identifying potential threat events, the relevance of the events, and correlate them to the appropriate threat sources. A few examples are phishing attacks, session hijacking, and forced physical entry—which is good, old-fashioned breaking and entering.

3. Identify Vulnerabilities

After identifying threat events, organizations must identify vulnerabilities and predisposing conditions affecting the likelihood that threat events will result in loss. NIST 800-30 helps by providing a taxonomy of predisposing conditions and some sample scales for establishing vulnerability in Appendix F. Organizations should consider conducting a current state analysis against a security framework. Example frameworks include NIST CSF, NIST SP 800-171, NIST 800-53, COBIT, and the ISO 27000 Series. It is also recommended that organizations conduct a technical penetration test to identify vulnerabilities.

4. Determine the Likelihood of Exploitation

The fourth step involves determining the likelihood of the selected threat events resulting in a loss. This is a fairly-involved process, which contains at least three sub-steps to arrive at a solid end result. Appendix G of NIST 800-30 contains all the information needed to complete the step.

5. Determine Probable Impact

This step is focused on determining the most likely impact of a loss event. Again, the steps are fairly involved, but detailed guidance is contained in Appendix H of NIST 800-30.

6. Calculate Risk as Combination of Likelihood and Impact

The last step in a risk assessment is to combine the likelihood and impact values calculated in steps 4 and 5 to arrive at a risk value. NIST 800-30 provides detail on how to use a 9-block matrix to accomplish this in Appendix I.

Want a Way to Automate the Process?

One of the most difficult aspects of risk assessments is managing the process. Although the technology landscape has evolved, many companies still rely on manual processes and Excel spreadsheets to manage the risk assessment process.

Automating the risk assessment process can provide numerous benefits for your company. You can save time, reduce errors, and improve the overall accuracy of your risk assessments. Additionally, automation can help ensure that all necessary data is collected, organized, and analyzed in a consistent and standardized manner.

One of the key benefits of automation is the ability to generate reports quickly and easily. With an automated system, your team can generate reports with just a few clicks, rather than spending hours compiling data and formatting spreadsheets. This not only saves time but also reduces the risk of errors in the reporting process.

Another advantage of automation is the ability to integrate data from multiple sources. By integrating data from different sources, such as vulnerability scanners, threat intelligence feeds, and other security tools, companies can gain a more comprehensive view of their security posture and identify potential risks more easily.

In addition to streamlining the risk assessment process, automation can also help you stay up-to-date with changing security threats and compliance requirements. You have the ability to quickly identify and respond to new threats, as well as ensure that your company is meeting all relevant compliance regulations.

Automating the risk assessment process can be a game-changer. As cybersecurity advisors, we realized the painstaking processes companies were using to manage their risk assessments, and to optimize this process we created a solution to help eliminate the headache of writing reports once an assessment is complete.

If you’re tired of manually managing your risk assessment process using spreadsheets and time-consuming manual processes, it’s time to consider automating. Don’t let the headache of managing risk assessments hold you back – take action today and explore the benefits of automation for your organization’s security. Contact us now to learn more about our solution and how it can help your company streamline your risk assessment process.

Content provided by LBMC security professional, Van Steel.

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