Every year, 800,000 people experience cyber-attacks across the board. As digital technologies become more commonplace in both individual and commercial contexts, these occurrences will continue to increase.

The only effective way to counteract cyber attacks and minimise their impact on operations is through the formulation of a robust cybersecurity strategy. This is especially true for businesses in contemporary times as they often rely on digital infrastructure in key operations.

This is the very reason why cybersecurity has become a prominent part of risk and security management in businesses. In fact, according to Wall Street Journal, 66% of CIOs are planning to increase their investments in cybersecurity in 2023.

The first step in implementing cybersecurity for a business is conducting a risk assessment. Here is how you can conduct a cybersecurity risk assessment for your business to improve its security risk management capabilities.

How to conduct a cybersecurity risk assessment

2.8 billion malware attacks and 255 million phishing attacks were reported in just the first six months of 2022. Cybersecurity risk assessments play a vital role in preparing businesses to handle situations like this by providing adequate incident response plans and minimising the potential impact.

Here is how you can conduct a cybersecurity risk assessment to improve risk and security management in your organisation.

Define the scope of the assessment
Determining the scope of the assessment allows you to focus your efforts and resources on one particular aspect of the business, especially if you lack the resources to conduct an organisation-wide assessment initially.

Risk management standards like ISO 31000 and frameworks such as NIST can be useful in this instance.

Identify potential vulnerabilities
Once the scope is defined, you can identify the assets within the organisation’s infrastructure and analyse them for vulnerabilities. Distinguishing the critical assets that require protection will be helpful for the next step.

Using risk assessment software can significantly improve the quality and speed of risk assessments.

Assess and prioritise risks
With the organisation’s assets and their associated vulnerabilities identified, you can engage in assessing their potential impact and prioritise them based on the likelihood of risk and severity of consequence.

Using risk assessment matrices is ideal as they offer a comprehensible, visual representation of risk.

Implement management strategies
With the risk landscape properly identified and quantified, you can now implement strategies to manage it. Depending on the nature of the risk, you may choose to avoid, transfer, or mitigate the risk.

Training programmes, new policies, and expanded internal controls can be incorporated in this instance.

Ensure continuous improvement
One of the most important aspects of risk management is continuous monitoring, evaluation, and improvement and this is particularly true for cybersecurity as the risk landscape is continuously changing.

The software can again be helpful here as you can automate certain processes of continuous improvement.

Why you should conduct a cybersecurity risk assessment

Apart from contributing to the overall risk and security management initiatives of an organisation, cybersecurity risk assessments offer the following benefits.

  • Reduce costs incurred from cybersecurity incidents
    The average data breach cost businesses that have less than 500 employees an estimated $2.98 million in 2021. Risk assessments allow you to pre-identify and manage incidents that can cause financial losses that affect your bottom line.
  • Gain a better understanding of the risk landscape
    75% of security professionals consider social engineering to be the most dangerous threat. Risk assessments allow personnel undertaking risk management within organisations to understand these risks better, minimising risk potential.
  • Implement a cybersecurity programme
    71% of businesses fell victim to ransomware attacks in 2022. With an effective risk assessment, you can implement an effective risk assessment programme that covers every facet of cybersecurity threats.
  • Avoid data breaches and losses
    Australia saw a 26% increase in data breaches during the second half of 2022 compared to the first. With a risk assessment, you can improve the resilience of your IT infrastructure to reduce the likelihood of risk.
  • Avoid compliance issues
    39% of organisations cited regulatory compliance as a significant challenge. With risk assessments, you can pinpoint potential compliance risks and manage them to avoid the issues that can arise from non-compliance.

Improve your organisation’s risk and security management efforts with cybersecurity risk assessments

Cybersecurity has become a vital aspect of risk and security management as the world embraces more digital technologies.

Risk assessments are a key aspect of cybersecurity risk management and conducting an effective assessment can make a huge difference in an organisation’s risk management capabilities. As such, the steps detailed above will help you create a risk assessment that will help your organisation effectively identify, assess, and manage the risks you face.