What is a cybersecurity assessment?

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RiskXchange can help your organisation utilise an effective cybersecurity assessment.

Cyberattacks are on the rise right around the world, so much so that the FBI reported a record increase in cybercrime complaints in 2020 – up 69% from a year earlier. The problem is so widespread that over $4.1 billion losses were reported in the United States alone last year, not to mention the rest of the world.

This is why keeping on top of your cybersecurity needs is paramount. Routine cybersecurity assessments are a key part of a holistic risk management strategy, which not only helps to keep your business in check but also provides a comprehensive overview of your cybersecurity ecosystem and any third-party vendors associated with it.

A cybersecurity risk assessment does exactly what it suggests – it identifies information assets which are likely to be affected by a cyberattack (such as systems, hardware, customer data, laptops, and intellectual property), and then identifies the possible risks that could affect those assets. A cybersecurity assessment also allows a more informed decision on how to allocate funds to best protect a network.

Let’s take a closer look at some popular cybersecurity assessment frameworks and how your organisation can utilise an effective assessment.

Detailing a cybersecurity assessment

A cybersecurity assessment is slightly different to a cybersecurity audit in the sense that it analyses your organisation’s cybersecurity controls and the ability they have to remediate vulnerabilities. Cybersecurity assessments should also be conducted in-line with your business objectives. This type of assessment not only provides a high-level analysis of your network’s weaknesses, but also supplies security teams with the knowledge they require to incorporate the correct security controls to mitigate risks.

Why conduct a cybersecurity assessment?

A thorough cybersecurity assessment is key to ensuring whether or not your organisation is prepared to defend itself against a number of threats. The purpose of a good cybersecurity assessment is to identify any vulnerabilities and narrow the gaps in the cybersecurity posture of your organisation. It also informs board members and decision-makers on the entire cybersecurity positioning of the organisation, which helps when it comes to implementing plans, strategies, and budgets to bolster security and protect the business.

Different types of cybersecurity risk assessment frameworks

There are different types of cybersecurity frameworks depending on where you are in the world and within what industry you reside. The broader frameworks include the ISO 27000 standards and the NIST Cybersecurity Framework:

ISO 27000

The standard describes the purpose of an Information Security Management System (ISMS), a management system similar to those recommended by other ISO standards such as ISO 9000 and ISO 14000, used to manage information security risks and controls within an organisation. Bringing information security deliberately under overt management control is a central principle throughout the ISO/IEC 27000 standards.

NIST Cybersecurity Framework

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework was developed in collaboration with government agencies and the private sector and offers guidance on how both internal and external stakeholders of organisations can manage and reduce cybersecurity risk. It lists organisation specific and customisable activities associated with managing cybersecurity risk and it is based on existing standards, guidelines, and practices.

Other more specialised cybersecurity frameworks include:

HIPAA – The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is a set of guidelines for transferring patient information among healthcare providers.

GDPR – The General Data Protection Regulation is a law that outlines the rules for when it comes to collecting and processing sensitive data from users living in the EU.

CMMC – Developed by the U.S. Department of Defence, the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification ensures that defence contractors have undergone a cybersecurity assessment to reach the necessary level of cyber maturity.

PCI-DSS – The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard ensures all participating companies process, store or transmit credit card information in a secure network environment.

FERPA – The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act protects the privacy of student education records under federal law.

How to conduct a cybersecurity assessment

Although cybersecurity assessments will differ from one country to another and from one industry to the next, the general principle remains the same. Let’s take a closer look at the basic guidelines used when conducting a cybersecurity assessment:

1. Scope of the assessment

Evaluating the scope of the assessment is key to identifying all assets that could be affected. Start by limiting it to one type of asset at a time rather than all of them at once. Once the asset type has been selected, pinpoint any other devices, assets, or information that it connects with, and then move onto the next doing the same thing. Assessing this way ensures you’re getting a comprehensive look at your entire network.

2. Determine the asset’s value

Once the assets included in the assessment have been pinpointed and defined, the next stage is to determine the value of each asset (bearing in mind that the asset may extend far beyond its actual cost). The qualitative risks and the intangible factors associated with each asset should be considered within the cybersecurity assessment.

3. Identifying the risks

Identify the cybersecurity risks is the next step in any cybersecurity assessment so that you can calculate the likelihood of numerous loss scenarios for future decision-making. Forward thinking is crucial – considering situations where the asset could be exploited and the total impact that could have on your organisation. This step is also an important part of ensuring you are meeting any cybersecurity compliance requirements.

4. Value of the asset vs. cost of prevention

Once the value of an asset has been determined, it must be compared with the cost of protecting it. If the cost of preventing an incident is more than the asset is worth, then it’s worth considering an alternative prevention method that makes more financial sense.

5. Continuously monitor security controls

The next step is to incorporate security measures that can continuously monitor cybersecurity measures within the organisation. This not only ensures that controls in place are meeting organisational requirements but are also protecting sensitive information on an ongoing basis.

Get in touch with RiskXchange to find out more about a comprehensive cybersecurity assessment.

How RiskXchange can help

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.

With full visibility over your eco-systems’ entire attack surface in near real-time, you can regularly monitor and mitigate risks to prevent unnecessary exposures. Our 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.

About RiskXchange

RiskXchange provides a powerful AI-assisted, yet simple automated and centralised 360-degree cybersecurity risk rating management approach. We generate objective and quantitative reporting on a company’s cyber security risk and performance, which enables organisations with evolving business requirements to conduct business securely in today’s open and collaborative digital world.

RiskXchange is an information security technology company, which helps companies of all sizes fight the threat of cyber threats by providing instant risk ratings for any company across

the globe. RiskXchange was founded and is led by recognised experts within the security industry, who have held leading roles within companies such as IBM Security.

Find out more here.