What Is a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment?

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October 8, 2021

In a world where cyber crime is on the rise, it seems like all the tech experts are saying the same thing to small business owners: get a cybersecurity risk assessment. But what is a cybersecurity risk assessment, exactly? To put it simply, it’s a series of questions that helps you identify where your vulnerabilities are in your network and data security. Let’s take a look at how they work.

A cybersecurity risk assessment highlights any asset or information that can be adversely affected during a cyberattack. Once vulnerabilities are identified, they are dissected even further to assess the risk to each asset, and the potential fall-out if each were targeted in a cyber-attack. Here’s how each part of the assessment process breaks down.

How a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment Works, Step By Step

Your assessment starts with a detailed look into your assets. Assets include all devices, all software, and sensitive information to name just a few. Once assets are all determined, they are given a value and assigned threat level priorities.  

What is a cybersecurity risk assessment? It might look like this: 

Step One: Determine Asset Value

This is a deep look at your assets, going far beyond what you may have spent on the asset itself. In this step, your MSP or internal staff should be judging the asset’s importance to a competitor, how much the asset contributes to your overall workflow, and how much your company would be affected by the loss of the asset. 

Step Two: Identify Risks

Is this asset particularly vulnerable to theft, hacking, or unexpected data loss? How easy would it be to take the asset or infiltrate the network through this asset? When most people ask the question “what is a cybersecurity risk assessment?” they think of just this step. Don’t shortchange your company by stopping here.To do a proper accounting, you need to determine where your security investments make the most sense. That’s where step three comes in.

Step Three: Predict the Impact of a Cyberattack against an Asset

This is an evaluation that measures the potential impact of an asset’s loss through cybercrime. Some assets may have a more immediate and devastating effect than others if hacked. So that leads to the next step: setting priorities

Step Four: Decide which Assets Are Most Important to Secure

This combines hard data and the bottom line: how much would it cost your company to lose an asset, and how much would it cost to secure the asset against this potential loss?

Step Five: Implement Cybersecurity Risk Assessment Recommendations

After your small business cybersecurity risk assessment is complete, it’s time to implement the updated security recommendations to protect your assets. With the steps now complete, you’ll have all the information you need to make sound decisions about what to secure first, and where to invest your security dollars. Decisions are much easier to make with the right information!

Are You Ready to Do Your Own Risk Assessment?

By now, we hope we’ve been able to answer the question: what is a cybersecurity risk assessment. If you’d like to start the assessment process at your company, Integris can help. First, take a look at the free DIY cybersecurity assessment, that you can download here. Then give us a call! We’d love to set up a free consultation, and get your business on the road to cyber resilience. Contact us today!

Susan Gosselin is a Solutions Writer for Integris. A career communicator and business journalist, she's written extensively on IT topics and trends for IT service providers like Iconic IT and ProCoders Ukraine, as well as business publications such as Technologyadvice.com, Datamation.com, The Lane Report and many others. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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