Strong cybersecurity entails fully comprehending, monitoring, managing, and minimizing risk to your organization’s most valuable assets. An Information Technology (IT) risk assessment is one of the most common and effective ways to ensure your organization is maintaining strong security. This is an essential step for any business in the marketplace today.
Before Starting An IT Risk Assessment
There are three key questions you should be able to answer before starting an IT risk assessment:
- What are your company’s most important IT assets? In other words, what type of data do you handle that could significantly affect your business operations should it be compromised by hackers?
- What are the five main business processes that use or need this data?
- What kinds of threats (for example, data breaches) could impact your organization’s operations?
It’s also important to define what is considered risk. Answering these questions will require a thorough knowledge of the challenges and risks of doing business today.
What Is Risk?
In economic terms, risk refers to the probability and degree (high, medium, low, or none) of financial loss for an organization. Three factors are generally at play in determining risk. These include the following:
- The nature of a threat
- A system’s level of vulnerability
- The importance of the asset that could potentially be damaged or destroyed
Financial loss usually comes in one of the following three forms:
- Data Loss
- Application or system downtime
- Legal fines and penalties: Your organization can incur these types of costs if it fails to comply with information protection security requirements of PCI DSS, HIPAA, or other laws
There are also three crucial questions about risk you as an IT business executive should ask yourself:
- What is the risk you are mitigating?
- Does it constitute the highest priority security risk?
- Are you using the most cost-effective strategy to minimize risk?
Steps When Conducting An IT Risk Assessment
Here are key steps to follow when conducting an IT risk assessment:
Identify And Prioritize Assets
Examples of assets include servers, trade secrets, sensitive partner documents, and client contact information.
Here is some of the information you should collect for each asset:
- Support personnel
- Functional requirements
- IT security policies and architecture
- Network topology
- Information storage protection
- Environmental security
Although malware and hackers are among the most commonly thought-of examples of security threats, other dangers that could hurt your organization and its assets include:
- Natural disasters (floods, fire, earthquakes, hurricanes)
- System failure (dependent on computer quality)
- Accidental human interference (accidentally deleting key files, clicking on malware links, accidentally damaging equipment and other similar errors)
- Malicious behavior (interference, interception, and impersonation)
Any weakness that a hacker can take advantage of to breach security and hurt your business is considered a vulnerability. These can be pinpointed thanks to several different types of analyses (including an analysis of software security) audit reports, and vendor data.
Three different types of testing can also help identify system vulnerabilities:
- Information security test and evaluation (ST&E) procedures
- Penetration testing
- Automated vulnerability scanning tools
Evaluate any technical or nontechnical controls that are either in the planning stage or in place in order to minimize the risk of threats. Examples of controls include encryption, security policies, authentication subsystems and intrusion detection tools.
For instance, performing routine backups and storing them off-site can help minimize risks associated with accidental file deletion.
Conduct A Threat Impact Analysis
An evaluation of the effects of a threat should include:
- A system’s mission
- A system’s criticality, which is determined by data value
- A system and its corresponding data’s sensitivity
- An estimate of the frequency of a threat’s annual capitalization on a vulnerability
- A cost estimate of a remedy for each threat
- A weight factor based upon the relative effect of a particular threat on a vulnerability
Perhaps one of the most important steps of any IT risk assessment is the documentation of results. This report can help your company’s managers make more sound decisions regarding policies, budget and procedures, among other things. A final report should clearly explain each threat and its vulnerability, what assets are at risk, how this will affect your organization’s IT infrastructure, control recommendations for reach level of risk, and the probability that these types of dangers could happen again.
When weighing controls to minimize risk, you should also think about:
- Organizational policies
- Cost-benefit analysis
- Operational impact
- Applicable regulations
- Safety and reliability
Seeking More Information On IT Risk Assessments
Speak to the professional cybersecurity analysts at Vaultes Enterprise Solutions in Reston, Virginia, to learn more about IT risk assessments and to schedule such an evaluation. Vaultes is a Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB) that provides advanced cybersecurity solutions to commercial and federal clients across multiple industries.
The services Vaultes provides include application security, cybersecurity controls assessments, risk and compliance assessments, penetration testing and vulnerability testing. Call Vaultes today or contact them online to request a consultation.