IT security risk assessments are key to identifying threats facing an organisation’s data, information systems, and networks, and assessing the possible consequences should any adverse events take place. IT security risk assessments must be conducted on an annual or bi-annual basis or upon any major changes occurring within an organisation, such as mergers and acquisitions, business re-organisation, new technology added to company infrastructure, or when workers move to a remote working model.
IT security risk management is not only important for protecting your organisation and ensuring your security measures are up-to-scratch, but it could also be mandatory. Some IT information security frameworks, such as CMMC and ISO 27001, require IT security risk assessments to be conducted and documented for an organisation to be deemed compliant. IT security risk assessments are a key component of any cybersecurity program. Risk assessments allow organisations an overview of their vulnerabilities and risks, and how they are changing over time. This is so that decision-makers can put appropriate safeguards and measures in place to respond to risks quickly and appropriately.
Understanding IT Security Risks
The terminology “information security risks” applies to the damage that attacks against IT systems can cause. IT security risk incorporates a whole host of potential events, including regulatory enforcement actions, data breaches, reputational damage, financial costs, and a lot more.
According to NIST, risk is a measure of the extent to which an entity is threatened by a potential event or circumstance and is typically a function of the adverse impacts that would arise if the circumstance or event occurs; and the likelihood of occurrence. Information security risks are those risks that arise from the loss of confidentiality, integrity, or availability of information or information systems, and reflect the potential adverse impacts to organisational operations (i.e., mission, functions, image, or reputation), organisational assets, individuals, other organisations, and the nation.
Why is it important to have an IT risk management plan?
IT risk management plans are extremely important because they help an organisation determine what the risks are to reduce their likelihood and provide a means for better decision-making to avoid future risk.
The Risk Assessment Process
There are two categories of IT risk assessments that can be performed. However, the most effective approach is to incorporate elements of both of the following:
Quantitative risk assessments, or assessments that focus on percentages and numbers, can help establish the financial impacts of each risk.
Qualitative risk assessments assess the human and productivity aspects of a risk.
Both of the above have value and will allow you to communicate risk with different departments and stakeholders. For example, financial and legal teams will most likely be interested in the numbers while operations teams, such as customer service and sales, will be more concerned about how an event would affect their efficiency and overall operations.
Why is it important to document a risk management framework?
Good documentation in a risk management framework will inform the decision-making process and, in some cases, create a competitive advantage.
IT Risk Assessment Tactics
Are you struggling with IT security and risk management? These 10 effective IT risk assessment tactics will help you assess, manage, and protect infrastructure risk.
1. Conduct Regular Vulnerability Scans
Conducting regular vulnerability scans is key to pinpointing weaknesses within a network and to identify any new threats that might arise. RiskXchange enables users to monitor cybersecurity ratings, add vendors or partner organisations easily, and report on the health of their cybersecurity programmes and compliance. RiskXchange also conducts a vulnerability assessment to check for weakness within a network, application or system that could be compromised or easily accessible by an outside party. They must be continuously monitored to identify new threats as and when they crop up.
2. Perform Penetration Testing
It is fundamentally important to perform penetration testing checks for vulnerabilities alongside the similar method of vulnerability scanning. In penetration testing, vulnerabilities are tested, and the reports are sent back to the organisation so they are aware of what security protocols should be put in place.
3. Conduct Security Audits and Compliance Assessments
Security audits and compliance assessments are carried out by governing bodies who set out a predefined set of rules, standards, and guidelines with which an organisation is expected to comply. Being in compliance with industry rules and regulations is important to ensure that your organisation is compliant, and its reputation is secured.
4. Establish Access Control Policies and Procedures
Establishing access control policies and procedures allows increased network security by limiting resources and user access to only parts of the network deemed necessary. Access control policies manage where, when and who can access information. Organisations can better maintain information, data, and physical security from unauthorised access by defining a policy that limits access on an individualised basis. Providing different levels of access can help limit risk exposure and make it easier to monitor and maintain a robust cybersecurity posture.
5. Implement Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) is a security solution that helps organisations recognise potential vulnerabilities and security threats before they have a chance to disrupt operations. SEIM tools give responders the data they need to act immediately and quickly.
6. Monitor and Respond to Security Incidents
RiskXchange can help your organisation monitor its vendors continuously, automate security questionnaires, and reduce third and fourth-party risk. RiskXchange can also help your organisation monitor its attack surface, prevent data breaches, discover leaked credentials, and protect customer data. RiskXchange prevents breaches by monitoring an attack surface continuously across key domains—identifying critical security issues before hackers do.
7. Regularly Update and Patch Systems and Applications
Regularly updating and patching systems and applications is key to ensuring your attack surface is narrowed. Patching cadence determines how many vulnerabilities are evident on your system and how many critical vulnerabilities are still to be patched. A large number of data breaches occur because an organisation fails to update their systems, networks, and software. It’s important to apply security patches within 30 days of the software’s release to reduce cyber risk.
8. Backup and Disaster Recovery Planning
Backup and disaster recovery planning is key to “getting on with things” once an event has taken place. Getting back on your feet as quickly as possible is an important part of limiting damage and reducing the threat. Creating a disaster recovery plan provides a comprehensive strategy to guarantee business continuity if malicious damage to a company’s infrastructure were to occur.
9. Educate and Train Employees on Security Awareness
Educating and training employees on security awareness is essential. Investing in a comprehensive cybersecurity training program can help create an environment where employees are aware of the risks and know how to protect against them. Not only does it provide increased security awareness but improves compliance, reduces liability, reduces costs and a whole lot more.
10. Engage Third-Party Security Experts for Independent Assessment
RiskXchange is one of the firms leading the fight against cybercrime, coming up with novel solutions to everyday problems experienced at the hands of hackers. RiskXchange generates objective and quantitative reporting on a company’s cyber security risk. With full visibility over an ecosystems’ entire attack surface in near real-time, you can regularly monitor and mitigate risks to prevent unnecessary exposures. RiskXchange’s passive data collection methods are effective and have no impact on your network performance. Using data-driven insights to prevent breaches is the best way to reduce an attack surface and prevent cyberattacks.
Why is it important to review IT risk management processes?
It is important to review IT risk management processes because there are many factors that affect the likelihood and consequences of an outcome. There is also the cost to consider and whether the plan is relevant in the current climate. Ongoing review is key to ensuring the risk management plan remains relevant.
Best Practices for IT Security Risk Assessment and Management
IT security risk assessments are essential to support business decisions. With that in mind, here are some best practices for achieving successful security risk assessments that drive efficiency and optimisation in managing risk.
- Understand the risk landscape.
- Manage risk at scale.
- Drive stakeholder engagement.
- Create a culture of compliance.
- Evaluate and monitor risks.
- Effectively report risks.
- Document the approach.
Get in touch with RiskXchange to find out more about effective IT security risk assessment tactics.