Five things to consider when performing a cybersecurity risk assessment

Five things to consider when performing a cybersecurity risk assessment

Throughout 2020, attempts to breach UK businesses’ IT systems surged by 20% to an average of 686,961 attacks on every business per year. That’s an attempted hack of your business every 46 seconds. Got your attention?

There has never been more urgency to undertake a cybersecurity risk assessment. It is an essential process that all businesses and organisations must go through, and while keeping your organisation’s data safe might seem like an overwhelming task, it’s much more manageable when you understand the risk levels your business is currently at.

Types of Cyber Risks to Your Business

A cybersecurity risk is any potential for hackers to breach your system to access data including financial and sensitive business information. There are a few different types of activities that are considered risks. These include:

  • Cyber-attacks – an assault by cybercriminals on your network
  • Ransomware – malicious software that denies access to your data until a ransom is paid
  • Phishing – a fraudulent message designed to look genuine in order to obtain sensitive information
  • Malware – any software intentionally designed to cause damage to a computer, server or computer network
  • Insider threats – threats to your system from people or persons within your organisation
  • Data leaks – when sensitive data is accidentally exposed such as lost hard drives or laptops

 

What is a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment?

A security risk assessment is simply about managing and mitigating the risk to your business’s critical assets. It’s pretty straightforward once you shed the daunting language, and once done, you’ll be able to understand just how easy it is to access information you have on your system, as well as the potential cost of being exposed to a cybersecurity breach. You can then tailor your security to match your organisation’s ability to withstand such an attack.

What you should consider when assessing security risks?

There are five areas to hone in on when assessing your resilience to a cyber-attack:

1. Security Awareness Training

Unfortunately, more than 90% of data breaches occur due to human error because cyber-criminals often target your employees rather than directly attacking your IT system. Without proper training, employees are left floating out at sea, unaware of the sharks circling and the risk they themselves pose to overall security. The training is straightforward, effective, and (remarkably) quite fun.

2. Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) and Access Management

A robust access management system ensures the right person has access to the files they need, while limiting the accessibility to data for those without permission. MFA is an authentication method that requires the user to provide at least two verification factors to access a VPN, app or online account.  This could be a password or personal identification number (PIN) that verifies the user. If your data is difficult to obtain, then it’s less appealing to cyber-criminals as most of the time their crimes are opportunistic

3. Anti-virus and Ransomware Protection

Anti-virus software works by detecting or preventing malware from damaging your network or device. The software scans any incoming files or code that comes into contact with your system – usually through laptops or other devices connected to your network.

An up-to-date anti-virus package will decrease the likelihood of your business being hit by a ransomware attack by dropping you a handy little notification, alerting you to any encounters or attempted breaches you’ve had with ransomware. However, it’s still important to educate your employees about potential threats so that they are vigilant.

4. Email Security

Emails are another weak link in your cybersecurity protection chain. Phishing emails are getting more sophisticated and look more legitimate than ever. It is no longer just elderly relatives asking whether the £250,000 they’ve just won through an unknown address that requires bank details might, in fact, be a scam. Clever algorithms are now capable of picking out a friend’s tone of voice and email themes to create convincing phishing scams that are easily believed by even the most tech savvy.

Email protection software will scan incoming emails to catch any suspicious links or attachments and will either block the content or notify the user that there’s potential danger. User training and a vigorous email policy will go a long way to ensure your system is protected.

5. Backup to the Cloud

Despite every precaution you might take, there’s always a slim chance that your network will be taken down by a flood, fire or other act of fate. Therefore it’s vital that you always have backups in the cloud, which will enable you to access any data regardless of where you are, while protecting any files that have been compromised.

On-going cybersecurity assessment

Once you have assessed the risk to your business and taken the appropriate measures to reduce your exposure to cyber-attacks, it’s important to monitor the effectiveness of your plan. Our clients benefit from regular reporting of their cybersecurity plans, which ensures we’re able to identify potential weaknesses before they become a problem. This includes monitoring their IT network’s regular risk assessment to ensure everything is still up to date and compliant.

If you would like to learn more about performing a cybersecurity risk assessment or you don’t have a Cyber Essentials Certification, we can help you. Contact us and we’ll tailor a customised assessment to protect your data and your business.