As cybersecurity is about protecting data and computer networks, risk assessment and management are essential aspects of this field. Consequently, it is crucial to understand what risks your business data and systems face and the best ways to analyze, assess, prevent, and mitigate potential risks and cyber-attacks.
Discover the six best risk management practices every business should consider.
What Does Cybersecurity Risk Management Entail?
Cybersecurity risk management is building a response strategy against cyber threats and other information security risks. Companies and organizations of all sizes and types need cybersecurity management strategies to protect their data and systems and issue timely and appropriate responses.
It is crucial for business owners and managers to understand that the best risk management strategies aren’t about eliminating all risk or shielding their data against all cyber-attacks or vulnerabilities. Security experts widely consider zero-risk an unrealistic and unattainable objective.
Instead, optimal risk management is primarily about analyzing the most likely threats and their potential impacts, rapid identification, assessment, and control of these threats as they happen, with a periodic reassessment of these controls to evaluate their effectiveness.
What Are the Benefits of a Cybersecurity Risk Management Process?
Although every type of organization, regardless of size or industry, whether for-profit or non-profit, can be the target of cybercrime, small businesses and organizations with more limited IT resources face significantly higher risks.
According to a 2021 survey by Digital.com, as many as 51% of small businesses have no cybersecurity risk assessment or management strategy, potentially leaving them vulnerable to an attack.
While adopting a robust risk management process helps mitigate these threats and prevents these companies from remaining at risk of the most common attacks (malware, phishing scams, and ransomware), it can significantly improve their reputation with partners and customers.
The Digital.com survey outlined that 87% of small and medium businesses hold at least one type of personally identifiable customer data, such as names, addresses, and phone numbers. Less commonly collected but more critical data includes bank details, birthdates, credit card information, and Social Security numbers.
Adopting a cybersecurity risk management process is necessary to ensure this data is safe from cyber threats, protecting the business and its customers. Failure to do so can endanger the company’s reputation, decrease partner trust, and drive customers away.
Examples of Cybersecurity Risk Management Frameworks
All cybersecurity risk management strategies begin with a basic assessment of the company, its environment, and the most relevant threats. Many companies use a specific equation to visualize this principle:
potential risk = chance of an attack × business impact of an attack
While identifying risks isn’t always an exact science, adopting a risk-based approach when creating a risk management and mitigation framework provides business owners with a valuable starting point.
Although many companies may choose to develop a custom security framework, it is a typical industry practice to adopt a pre-existing one designed by an established organization instead. The three most common cybersecurity risk management frameworks are:
NIST Cybersecurity Framework (NIST CSF)
The National Institute of Standards and Technology created the Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) to offer businesses and organizations a five-point standardized set of guidelines for securing information systems and managing risks at the organizational level.
The NIST CSF features five core functions:
- Identify: Define the organization’s assets, personnel, environment, governance, and business strategies, and identify all potential risk points and factors.
- Protect: Implement essential safeguards to protect data and assets
- Detect: Implement the necessary processes and resources to detect a cyber attack as quickly as possible.
- Respond: Apply the appropriate response processes, communicate with all relevant parties, and mitigate potential damage.
- Recover: Apply data recovery procedures, repair or restore any damage caused by the attack, analyze the incident to gather information, and implement adjustments and improvements to the procedure as needed.
Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)
The PCI DSS security framework is a security standard and risk management framework designed for businesses handling credit card information, such as eCommerce sites, online merchants, and other paid service providers. While it encompasses multiple industries, this model is an example of a purpose-specific framework.
While the detailed version of the PCI DSS standard outlines twelve primary requirements and three additional requirements, their purposes can be summed up using six core principles:
- Build and maintain a secure network and systems
- Protect cardholder data
- Maintain a vulnerability and malicious software management program
- Implement robust access control measures
- Conduct regular testing and monitoring of the network and systems
- Implement an organizational information security policy
Department of Defense Risk Management Framework (DoD RMF)
The DoD Risk Management Framework is an example of an industry-specific risk management framework, mainly designed for the defense industry and, more specifically, the DoD’s 300,000 contractors. However, the essential principles introduced by this model can be applied by companies and organizations outside the defense industry.
Here are the six steps of the DoD RMF:
- Categorize the information systems according to NIST standards to accurately determine the risk level for each
- Select the appropriate security and privacy controls from a standardized list (NIST 800-53) to maintain consistency and a repeatable approach
- Implement the selected controls into the information systems
- Assess the selected controls to ensure they work as intended
- Authorize the information systems
- Monitor the information systems continuously, periodically conduct updates, and apply the appropriate remediation to any issues or threats as they arise
6 Best Risk Management Practices to Consider
Whether your business has adopted a standardized model or a custom-designed risk management framework, specific measures and procedures can benefit any organization’s risk analysis and threat mitigation capabilities. Use these risk management measures to mitigate potential damage to your business.
Encourage a Cybersecurity Culture
All organizations, including those that do not conduct most of their business online, can be targeted by cybercriminals. Consequently, every member of your personnel should be mindful of cybersecurity basics.
The best first step to mitigating cybersecurity risks is to educate your employees and team members. Teach them where typical security risks come from, what they look like, and how best to respond to each of them.
Managers should lead by example, demonstrate the best practices, and encourage team members to follow them.
Prioritize the Risks to Your Business
Just as zero-risk is not attainable, neither is the possibility of protecting all systems against all types of threats, especially as the nature of cyber attacks is continually evolving.
Instead, a more efficient approach is to spend as much time as possible analyzing your systems and environment and identifying the most likely threats.
Referring to the potential risk equation, the most relevant threats to your system are those you identified as being both the most likely to occur and the most damaging to your operations if it does.
Implement Continuous Monitoring Systems
One of the most efficient aspects of cybersecurity risk mitigation is continuous monitoring and an efficient communication and reporting protocol. Your security team needs detailed and accurate logs of every event on the organization’s network and systems before determining the best remedial action.
Similarly, the system needs to be configured to print and archive records continuously and at sufficiently regular intervals. If event logging is too infrequent, it can significantly delay your team’s ability to detect and respond to a threat.
An adequately configured autonomous monitoring system can detect dormant malware, unexpected user activity such as intrusions from inside the organization, and other potential risks before they have the chance to cause damage.
Build the Right Communication Channels
Proper communication with the right people is critical if your system detects a threat. The basic cybersecurity principles should apply to your IT staff and your entire team of employees. Consequently, adequate two-way channels to communicate cybersecurity events and concerns should be available to your personnel.
For instance, if your security team detects an intrusion or a potential issue, they must be able to issue the correct messages and notifications to all departments detailing the potential risks and what they can do, such as changing the password ASAP.
Similarly, non-IT personnel should have a direct line to communicate potential security issues. For example, if an employee notices unusual activity, they should be able to report it directly to the security team to investigate and potentially stop or mitigate a breach.
Develop an Easy-to-Understand Response Plan
Responding to a cybersecurity event is highly time-sensitive. Even if you adopt an established cybersecurity risk management framework, it is crucial to ensure your organization has a clear, well-defined response plan in case an incident does occur.
The plan should be as detailed as possible, with multiple backups or fall-back steps. However, it must also be as easy to understand as possible so personnel with non-technical skills know what to do and how to respond timely.
Periodically Re-Evaluate the Situation
Cybercrime constantly changes and evolves. New threats emerge every day, from new forms of cyber attacks to discovering new vulnerabilities in software and hardware.
For example, a particular strategy that might have been viable five years ago may no longer be usable today due to the ever-changing nature of cyber threats. Consequently, periodically reviewing and updating your organization’s security controls and incident response plans is essential.
Contact a Trusted Detroit Cybersecurity Expert Today
At National Technology Management, we understand better than anyone else that managing your business’s cybersecurity needs can be challenging, especially when you need to focus on growth. We designed the SafeSecure fully-managed IT services plan so you can leave every aspect of your company’s network security in the hands of our experts.
Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss how to protect your organization from a cybersecurity breach.
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