Why Your Company Should Invest in Security Assessments

In today's always-connected world, one data breach is a major news and social media story, causing serious irreversible damage to your reputation and business.


According to the latest data breach report by IBM and the Ponemon Institute, the cost of a data breach in 2021 was US$ 4.24 million, a 10% spike from the average cost in 2019 of $3.86 million.


That's why, like implementing an accounting firm's annual financial audit, you should start thinking about conducting an annual cyber security risk assessment.


What is a cyber security risk assessment? A risk assessment is an evaluation of the potential vulnerabilities in your information technology (IT) infrastructure and the likelihood that they could be exploited by malicious actors. The goal of a risk assessment is to identify areas where you are most vulnerable so you can take steps to mitigate those risks. More and more, businesses are recognizing the importance of conducting regular risk assessments as part of their overall cybersecurity strategy.



Security compliance


Security assessment helps evaluate the company’s information security against globally recognized standards and implementation of best practices. Through security assessments, an organization can identify what is required to meet the set standards including improvements to do.


For instance, the PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) applies to every entity that stores, processes, or transfers cardholder data. Any company storing, processing, or transferring cardholder data must comply with PCI DSS.


Security assessments (at least annually) keep your organization current with industry security best practices and standards and allow you to identify any areas that need to be addressed.



The benefits of conducting a risk assessment


No matter how large or small your company is, you need to ensure the security of your information assets. Here are the benefits of risk assessment:


  • Identify Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities

In cybersecurity, “risk” is the potential loss when a threat exploits a vulnerability. It is important to address vulnerabilities because these are opportunities for negative outcomes. A weak corporate password policy, for instance, is a risk for unauthorized network access and sensitive data exposure. To address this, a company must implement a longer password length requirement or blacklist commonly used passwords to minimize the risk associated with this vulnerability.


  • Reduce chances of Data Loss / Leak / Breach


The possibility of data loss or leak or breach – particularly sensitive customer data – is enough to keep any business owner or company awake at night. A risk assessment is a proactive approach that exposes vulnerable areas of the company data before they are compromised, whereas most businesses implement reactive strategies. They act only when the data loss or breach was done.


What’s the difference between data loss, data leak, or data breach? Data loss is the unintentional removal of sensitive information, which can occur as a result of an information system error or cybercriminal theft. Data leaks are unauthorized disclosures of sensitive information due to flaws in the digital landscape. A data breach, on the other hand, is when sensitive data is accessed by an unauthorized party or taken by cybercriminals.


  • Understand The Company’s Ability to Address a Security Threat


Cybercriminals are not the sole source of risk so companies must consider and confront even non-malicious threats. Risk assessment specialists have the resources and experience to find vulnerabilities where the company may have ignored or initially thought safe like inconsistencies in governance, compliance gaps, vendor risks, and human element. When a company understands its ability to address those risks, the management can create an informed risk-mitigation plan.



How to go about conducting a risk assessment for your business


Now that you understand the benefits of cybersecurity risk assessments, let’s get to how you can prepare for one.


  • Step 1: Create a Risk Management Team


Identifying cyber threats and minimizing the risks to the company's IT systems and data requires a cross-departmental collaboration. Understanding and integrating business objectives with information security goals is the first step in the risk-based approach. As a result, you'll require feedback from multiple departments. The risk management team may also better convey the risk to employees and respond to incidents.


  • Step 2: Catalog Information Assets


The next step is cataloging all of the company's data assets including the IT infrastructure as well as the numerous Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solutions in use across the organization. The list should also include the third-party vendors as third-party providers pose a major risk of data breach.


  • Step 3: Assess Risk


Once you’ve identified your information assets, it’s time to assess the risks to them and your enterprise because some information is more critical than other information. Identify the systems, networks, and software which are critical to business operations, the sensitive information that needs to be protected, and the devices which are most at risk.


  • Step 4: Analyze Risk


After listing all the risks, rank them according to priority through risk analysis. Analyze the chance of a cybercriminal gaining access to the asset, as well as the financial, operational, and reputational consequences of the risk to the company.


  • Step 5: Set Security Controls


Define and implement security measures to assist you to manage potential risks such that they are either completely removed or the likelihood of them occurring is much reduced. Network segregation, software, firewalls, password protocols, and multi-factor authentication are examples of controls.



Tips for mitigating cyber security risks


  • Implement firewall, antivirus software, and other security solutions


Most cyber-attacks can be thwarted with the help of a firewall. The firewall will serve as a barrier between the company network and the rest of the internet. It will provide the company with more control over outgoing and incoming traffic that can be simply blocked.


Antivirus software is also essential. It can aid in the detection of viruses on the employee's computer. If the staff use mobile devices, antivirus software should be installed on those devices as well.


  • Use Multi-factor authentication.


Data breaches are caused by stolen or weak credentials in more than 85% of cases. Multi-factor authentication is the best solution to overcome this problem. Even if an attacker steals the password, the MFA will prevent them because they must first prove their identity before they can access the network.


  • Data encryption.


One of the cheapest and most basic forms to mitigate cyber security risks is data encryption. Even small businesses can encrypt their information because data encryption does not necessitate access to massive systems. In the event of a data breach, attackers will be unable to access the information because it is encrypted.



The future of cyber security and how businesses can stay ahead of the curve


It is clear that business firms need to stay ahead of the curve by taking cybersecurity seriously and investing in technical and behavioral protections.


As a countermeasure, the Cloud is becoming more popular, with more than half of US-based multinational corporations (MNCs) using it. Third-party servers are utilized to store and process vital data instead of endlessly spending on computer infrastructure.

Cloud computing is growing increasingly popular as a result of providers' high-capacity networks and computing power, as well as the relatively low cost of services and adaptability to corporate evolution via a "pay per usage" model. Furthermore, businesses benefit from the convenience of storing data in a secure environment.


Conclusion


More than just analyzing risks, cybersecurity risk assessments assist the company in proactively neutralizing threats before they harm the firm. At the end of the day, this sense of calm pervades the company's DNA, instilling greater confidence in all stakeholders. It's a wise investment that companies will never regret!


Privva is a major cyber security risk assessment expert in the industry. Its cyber risk mitigation technology and solutions reduce the chances of data breaches by strengthening vulnerabilities both internally and throughout the company network.


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