What is a cybersecurity risk assessment?
A cybersecurity risk assessment is an assessment of an organization's ability to protect its information and information systems from cyber threats.
The purpose of a cybersecurity risk assessment is to identify, assess, and prioritize risks to information and information systems. A cybersecurity risk assessment helps organizations identify and prioritize areas for improvement in their cybersecurity program. It also helps organizations communicate their risks to stakeholders and make informed decisions about how to allocate resources to reduce those risks.
There are many cybersecurity risk assessment frameworks and methodologies available, but they all share a common goal.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework is one of the most popular risk assessment frameworks. It provides a flexible and structured approach for organizations to assess their cybersecurity risks and prioritize actions to reduce those risks.
Another popular risk assessment framework is the ISO 27001:2013 standard. This standard provides a comprehensive approach to information security management, including requirements for risk assessment and risk treatment.
Organizations can also develop their own customized risk assessment frameworks and methodologies. Whatever approach an organization chooses, the goal should be to identify, assess, and prioritize risks to information and information systems.
Why carry out a cybersecurity risk assessment?
A cybersecurity risk assessment is important because it can help identify risks to your organization’s information, networks and systems. By identifying these risks, you can take steps to mitigate or reduce them. A risk assessment can also help your organization develop a plan to respond to and recover from a cyber attack.
Organizations should conduct cybersecurity risk assessments on a regular basis to keep their risk profiles up to date. Additionally, if there are changes to an organization's computer networks or systems, a new risk assessment should be conducted.
What does a cybersecurity risk assessment include?
A cybersecurity risk assessment evaluates the organization's vulnerabilities and threats to identify the risks it faces. It also includes recommendations for mitigating those risks.
A risk estimation and evaluation are usually performed, followed by the selection of controls to treat the identified risks.
It is important to continually monitor and review the risk environment to detect any changes in the context of the organization, and to maintain an overview of the complete risk management process.
ISO 27001 and cyber risks
The international standard ISO/IEC 27001:2013 (ISO 27001) provides the specifications of a best-practice ISMS (information security management system) – a risk-based approach to corporate information security risk management that addresses people, processes, and technology.
Clause 6.1.2 of the standard sets out the requirements of the information security risk assessment process.
- Establish and maintain certain information security risk criteria
- Ensure that repeated risk assessments “produce consistent, valid and comparable results”
- Identify “risks associated with the loss of confidentiality, integrity and availability for information within the scope of the information security management system”, and identify the owners of those risks
- Analyze and evaluate information security risks, according to the criteria established earlier
It is important that organizations “retain documented information about the information security risk assessment process” so that they can demonstrate that they comply with these requirements.
They will also need to follow a number of steps – and create relevant documentation – as part of the information security risk treatment process.
ISO 27005 provides guidelines for information security risk assessments and is designed to assist with the implementation of a risk-based ISMS.
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Cybersecurity risk assessment services
Conducting a cybersecurity risk assessment is a complex process that requires considerable planning, specialist knowledge, and stakeholder buy-in to appropriately cover all people-, process-, and technology-based risks. Without expert guidance, this can only be worked out through trial and error.
IT Governance provides a range of risk assessment and cybersecurity products and services to suit all needs.
IT Governance’s fixed-price, three-phase Cyber Health Check combines consultancy and audit, remote vulnerability assessments, and an online staff surveys to assess your cyber risk exposure and identify a practical route to minimize your risks. Our approach will identify your cyber risks, audit the effectiveness of your responses to those risks, analyze your real risk exposure, and then create a prioritized action plan for managing those risks in line with your business objectives.
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vsRisk is an online risk assessment software tool that has been proven to save time, effort, and expense when tackling complex risk assessments.
Fully aligned with ISO 27001, vsRisk streamlines the risk assessment process to deliver consistent and repeatable cybersecurity risk assessments every time.
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Why choose IT Governance for your cybersecurity risk assessment needs?
IT Governance specializes in IT governance, risk management, and compliance solutions, with a special focus on cyber resilience, data protection, the GDPR, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), ISO 27001, and cybersecurity.
IT Governance is also recognized under the following frameworks:
- UK government CCS-approved supplier of G-Cloud services
- CREST certified as ethical security testers
- Certified under Cyber Essentials Plus, the UK government-backed cybersecurity certification scheme
- Certified to ISO 27001:2013, the world’s most recognized cyber security standard