Why you should perform risk management and threat assessments
We’re constantly talking about cybersecurity threats and breaches. Hundreds of companies experienced attacks last year, while many more faced threats and worked to prevent attacks. A strong cybersecurity protection plan includes monitoring systems for outside threats in order to shut them down before they become a problem. Because there is no way of knowing how many attacks have been prevented, it begs the question: Are all threats created equal?
When you’re monitoring a system, it’s nearly impossible to know if what you’re seeing is a threat on a grand scale or just a small blip. Cybercrime has evolved into multifaceted, sophisticated attacks. Criminals are working in large teams, carrying out long-lasting operations that follow a specific business model. Cybersecurity is more important than ever. Here’s what you need to know about threat management and monitoring.
Identify types of threats
Today’s digital world functions under the understanding that it’s constantly at risk. Businesses and individuals alike must manage those risks to effectively limit their exposure to threats. The first step to risk management is proper assessment. According to Sage Data Security1, while every risk assessment is different depending upon the business goals and systems in place, all assessments include the following basic types of threats:
- Unauthorized access: Whether malicious or accidental, unauthorized access can result from malware, purposeful cybercrime or even internal threats.
- Misuse of information: This happens when an authorized user either uses or makes changes to data without approval or permission.
- Data leakage: This includes accidentally sending sensitive information to the wrong recipient, succumbing to phishing attacks and transmitting files over insecure channels.
- Loss of data: Poor replication and backup processes can result in lost information.
- Disruption of service or productivity: This is included in most risk assessments.
After identifying the risks, subsequent steps of the assessment include determining risk impact, assessing your control environment, determining a likelihood rating and calculating your risk rating. The entire assessment is an ongoing, continual process and should be revisited regularly in order to maintain the highest level of cybersecurity. Once you understand your company’s resiliency, you can effectively measure your risk management data.
Quantify risk management data
Many businesses don’t realize that they’re under attack until it’s too late. Experts have found this is due to lack of preparation. Sticking your proverbial head in the cyber sand won’t mitigate risk — only proper preparation will.
Preparation begins with identifying and addressing potential gaps in your security to improve business continuity. Data sets quantify these gaps, and then put them in order of importance so companies can better prioritize and manage risks. Ensuring your company is working with quality data is the first and most important step toward effective quantifying. Companies need to report all risks, no matter how small. Increased sharing means better informed risk management strategies in the future.
To improve risk management practices, data must be up to industry standards. Companies are advised to follow the standards set by The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which includes guidelines and practices for protecting infrastructure. Specifically, NIST offers a hybrid cloud risk management model that groups activities into three categories based on the following levels:
- Tier One: organization level
- Tier Two: mission and business process level
- Tier Three: information system level
Although this framework is a professional recommendation and not an exact science, adhering to it helps companies improve their security programs. We must invest in tools to quantify cyber risk if we hope to manage it. This is true not only for companies but also for individuals. Sharing insights is an important part of gathering information to make the right decisions and keep cyberspace safe. The best way to ensure an informed outcome is through high-quality data.