IT Cybersecurity Risk Assessment: A Step by Step Guide

Updated: Aug 19



Is your business prepared to deal with the cost of cybercrime? According to recent statistics, the average British data breach costs companies £3.11 million. A huge 48 per cent of British companies dealt with ransomware last year, too.


These attacks can destroy companies. If you want to stay protected and keep your business alive, you need to run a cybersecurity risk assessment.


A cybersecurity risk assessment analyses your business' IT systems and discovers weak points. When you know the weak points in your system, you can work to patch them up. Patch them up and you could prevent a data breach and the financial consequences that come with it.


In this guide, we'll walk you through the process of performing a cyber risk assessment. When you're done, your system will be safer and your business will be at less risk. Read on to find out more!


1. What Is Your Most Valuable Information?

The first step of a cybersecurity risk assessment should be used to determine what information is most valuable to you. Small businesses in the UK are increasing their IT budgets but there will still be gaps in your system. You can't give everything maximum security, it would be very expensive and inefficient. Determining your most valuable information means deciding what gets that top level of protection. There are a few questions to ask regarding your information.


Would There Be Penalties If Attackers Exposed This Information?

Sensitive information such as customer details should be protected at all cost. GDPR breaches can cost you millions of pounds or a big chunk of your annual turnover. 

You should also consider non-legal consequences such as losing customer trust.


Would Competitors Be Able to Use This Information?

Key business information such as plans, sales projections, and other confidential information need to be kept safe at all costs. Ask yourself: would a competitor pay for access to this information?


Could We Work Without This Data?

If you couldn't work without this data, you need to protect it. Similarly, ask yourself how long it would take to rebuild this data from scratch.


2. How Are You Storing Data and Who Can Access It?

Another crucial part of any cybersecurity risk assessment is determining current security levels. Think about the types of data that your company collects. Are you storing it securely, using encryption?


When an employee accesses this data, do you use multi-factor authentication or one-time passwords? If employees access this data remotely, how are they accessing it? Can you ensure that they are using secure software?


Analyse the list of vendors that have access to your data. Can you be sure that they are using appropriate security measures when accessing your data? What level of access do they have?


3. What Threats Are You Likely to Face?

You need to consider what sort of threats you're most likely to face in the coming years. Data loss can be caused by a myriad of factors, not only cyberattacks.


Natural Disasters

If your server room was flooded and the servers were destroyed, would you be able to stay in business? Backups and cloud servers can work miracles here. 


Insider Threats

IBM has said that 60 per cent of cyberattacks are carried out by insiders. This can be due to anger at the company, bribery, extortion, or for monetary benefits.


Can you track your employee's activity? If not, this is a large security hole as you would not be able to suspend or sack an employee who committed these attacks. Ensure that you can keep track of employee activity on your network.

Employee Error

Not all data breaches are the result of malicious actions. Sometimes, human error is at fault. An employee may click a link on an email and download malware to the system or may reply to a phishing email.


What kind of security software do you have in place to help manage this? Do you have robust endpoint security on your systems that's managed by the IT department or security operations team? Leaving security software in the hands of employees is not a good idea.


Cyberattacks

Cyberattacks come in various levels of scope and sophistication. Is a hacker collective, nation-state, or individual hacker likely to attack you? If so, how do you plan on preventing this attack?


4. Know Your Vulnerabilities and Secure Them

By now, you should have a good idea of where your vulnerabilities lie. As well as vulnerabilities in your network, consider any exploits that you haven't fixed. We'd recommend checking out our blog post on the 10 most targeted security vulnerabilities for more information.


You'll need to create a solution to manage these vulnerabilities. For instance, managed IT security, rescinding data access from vendors, beefing up your employee monitoring capabilities, and ensuring that you have a robust backup schedule in place.


Even physical security is important too. For instance, you could add new keycard locks to your server rooms and maintain a list of who is and isn't allowed access.


5. Review Your Cybersecurity Risk Assessment Regularly

Cybersecurity is a fast-moving field and you can't afford to rest on your laurels. You should carry out a cybersecurity risk assessment regularly, at least once a year. 


When reviewing your previous cybersecurity assessment, take a look at the hard data. Did your measures lower the number of cyberattacks that you experienced? Did you suffer a data breach during the previous year?


Review any new exploits that have come to light in the past year and ensure that you are protected against them. However secure you think you are, it's likely that you'll need to make some changes to your system.


How RiskXchange can help 

RiskXchange uses data-driven insights to prevent breaches, helping organisations of all sizes pinpoint weaknesses to bolster their cybersecurity posture and to improve information security measures. With full visibility over your eco-systems' entire attack surface in near real-time, you can regularly monitor and mitigate risks to prevent unnecessary exposures.

RiskXchange’s security risk ratings can help you protect your data and manage cyber hygiene in all cases. We offer continuous cybersecurity monitoring, providing real-time visibility of users and their devices on all applications, software, and device types. Our cybersecurity monitoring best practices give organisations the ability to continuously look over their network on a case-by-case basis to stay one step ahead of any cyber threats.  

Our security ratings give a calculated assessment of an organisation’s effectiveness on all aspects of security performance and to protect data. Cybersecurity ratings draw upon a range of data to analyse and inform, ultimately enabling organisations to objectively review and act upon its processes and the security measures it has in place. 

More about RiskXchange

RiskXchange is an information security technology company, that helps companies of all sizes fight the threat of cyber threats by providing instant risk ratings for any company across the globe. RiskXchange was founded and is led by recognised experts within the security industry, who have held leading roles within companies such as IBM Security.

Find out more here

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