The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) publishes various resources, including cyber security best practices. Among these are a six-step process for performing a cyber security risk assessment. The six steps in the NIST process are as follows:
#1. Identify and Document Network Asset Vulnerabilities
The first step in a cyber security risk assessment process is to identify and document the vulnerabilities associated with an organization’s IT assets. This can include inventorying these assets and performing an assessment to determine the potential risks and vulnerabilities associated with each.
#2. Identify and Use Sources of Cyber Threat Intelligence
Cyber threat intelligence is internal or external information that can help to identify cyber security risks. Many organizations, including CISA, US-CERT, and cyber security companies offer access to cyber threat intelligence feeds. Also, an organization can collect internal threat intelligence based on past cyberattacks against the organization and its existing security architecture.
#3. Identify and Document Internal and External Threats
With a full view of its IT assets and an understanding of the major potential threats, an organization can search for both internal and external threats. For example, this may include scanning systems for indicators of compromise (IoCs), looking for unusual behavior in log files, and auditing configuration files for insecure settings or unauthorized changes.
#4. Identify Potential Mission Impacts
Different cyber security risks have varying potential impacts on the organization. For example, a ransomware infection on the corporate database has a greater impact than a similar attack against a single user’s workstation. Identifying the impacts of a cyber threat on the organization is essential to quantifying the risk that it poses.
#5. Use Threats, Vulnerabilities, Likelihoods, and Impacts to Determine Risk
At this point in the assessment, an organization has a clear understanding of the various threats and vulnerabilities it faces and the potential impact of each. It can also determine the likelihood of each type of attack using cyber threat intelligence. Based on this information, it is possible to quantify risk based on the combination of the likelihood and impact of each individual threat,
#6. Identify and Prioritize Risk Responses
After quantifying the risk of each threat and vulnerability, an organization can make a prioritized list of these issues. This information can be used to inform remediation efforts to ensure that major risks are addressed as quickly as possible and to maximize the ROI of remediation efforts.
The Outcome of a Cyber Security Risk Assessment
As part of the assessment, the tester will search for vulnerabilities using the same tools and techniques as a true cyber threat actor. At the end of the assessment, the tester should produce a prioritized list of the vulnerabilities that they have discovered within the environment being tested. This may also include recommendations about how to correct the identified vulnerabilities.
The end result of a cyber security risk assessment is essentially an action plan for the tested organization to correct vulnerabilities in its environment. The corporate security team can then take steps to remediate these issues, improving the organization’s defenses against real-world attacks.
How a Cyber Security Risk Assessment Benefits Organizations
A cyber security risk assessment provides an evaluation of an organization’s defenses against cyber threats. Some of the ways that this assessment can benefit the organization include:
Vulnerability Remediation: The result of the cyber risk assessment is a list of prioritized vulnerabilities that the organization can address to improve its cyber defenses.
Security Evaluation: The cyber risk assessment provides an organization with insight into which of its defenses are working and which require improvement.
cyber security ROI: A cyber security risk assessment can help to demonstrate the returns on cyber security investment in terms of the organization’s reduced risk of cyberattacks.
Regulatory Compliance: Some regulations require regular security assessments to ensure that an organization is properly protecting sensitive data. Even if an assessment is not required, it can be a useful exercise to prepare for a compliance audit.
Insurance Coverage: The rise in cyber security risk has made cyber security insurance more expensive and difficult to acquire. A positive cyber risk assessment may help an organization improve its chances of obtaining a policy or reduce the cost of an existing one.
Cyber Security Risk Assessments with Check Point
cyber security risk assessments can be an invaluable tool for improving an organization’s cyber security posture. By identifying and quantifying an organization’s cyber security risks, the company can determine the remediation efforts needed to protect itself against attack. Check Point offers no-cost cyber security risk assessments to help your organization identify and fix security vulnerabilities. For help with your security risk management, request a checkup today.