As hackers continue to use more sophisticated penetration methods and technologies, security of your enterprise IT system is one thing you cannot afford to ignore, regardless of the size of your organization or the industry you specialize in. Cyber-attacks are real and can happen to any organization.

How often have you read or heard of news about data breaches that leave behind a trail of losses to both small and large companies?

Quite often, you’ll agree.

In most cases, data breaches happen to organizations that lack proper cybersecurity management procedures. With the right measures to manage cybersecurity risks in place, your organization will not only reduce risks and consequences of a cyber-attack but also demonstrate its proactive role in protecting itself and its clients against cyber-attacks.

An enterprise IT risk management program further shows compliance with the requirements of industry standards and regulatory bodies such as Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI/DSS). Failure to effectively manage your enterprise IT risks will not only put your organization at risk of data breaches but will also negatively impact the results of critical negotiations with suppliers, investors, and customers.

What Constitutes a Cyber Risk?

A cyber risk is any potential threat to your IT system that can be exploited by hackers to gain access to valuable information about your company or its clients for malicious intentions such as theft or disruption of operations. It is an information security risk that results in monetary loss, damage, or disruption of your organization’s operations. A cybersecurity breach can arise from the company or its staff’s online activities, insecure data collection, transmission, processing, or storage practices, and basically from any flaw or vulnerability in your networks and IT system.

Every organization that uses digital technology and networks in its operations is a potential candidate for cybersecurity risks. Therefore, it is important to have the right enterprise IT risk management procedures in place at all times.

Managing Cybersecurity Risks

Enterprise IT security risks should be accorded the same attention and seriousness as all the other important aspects of your business, if not more. A one-time technical solution will not provide the required protection to your company information in the long-run which is why you need to make cybersecurity risk management an on-going process in your day-to-day operations.

Efficient cybersecurity risk management processes generally involve the following steps:

Here are some common examples:

  • Regular risk analysis and tests to identify specific threats to your enterprise IT system.
  • Implementation of the necessary security measures
  • Implementation of a risk strategy to determine the best control and response processes in the event of a data breach
  • Staff training to educate employees about their role and responsibilities in managing cybersecurity risks

Constant monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of your company’s security system.

Identify Cybersecurity Risks

Your enterprise IT risk management plan should focus on risk identification at the most basic level to ensure that your business is protected and better positioned for online transactions. In risk identification, you begin by determining what aspect of the IT infrastructure needs to be protected and the attack patterns that can be exploited by criminals to gain access to sensitive information. Identify the threats your organization could be facing and incorporate those findings into your incident response strategy. You can always rely on the suggestions and recommendations given by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to create a risk identification and response framework that is unique to your organization.

Know the Lifecycle of Your Information

You should also have a good understanding of the lifecycle of your company’s information before you can effectively manage cybersecurity risks in your organization. To implement an effective data security management process, it is important to develop a good understanding of the information your company acquires. You could start by considering the following factors:

  • What kind of information does your company collect
  • Where the data is acquired from
  • Who has access to the information both in and outside the company
  • Who else is the data shared with
  • How is the information protected?
  • The location of the data within your organization or among vendors
  • How long the company keeps the data
  • What happens to the information if it is damaged or destroyed

The plan should also determine how the organization can continue operating if the system or the data is either lost or becomes inaccessible. The most recommended measure is to have a data backup plan.

Managing Risks from Other Parties with Data Access

It is also important to assess risks posed by other parties with access to the system or data. These include vendors and partners. Identify everyone with access to your company data and ensure that you have put in place appropriate controls to prevent abuse and misuse of company and customer data.

Establish Proactive Measures to Mitigate Risks

All the above-mentioned steps will be of no use if you don’t implement the right policies to protect your enterprise IT system. There are specific transactions that will require satisfaction of certain conditions such as passwords and other authentication processes. Implement contractual protections for all types of vendor contracts and make sure that your staff is appropriately trained on the required protocols for accessing, using, and sharing, information. You should also develop a fast and efficient incident response plan as well as a disaster recovery plan in case your organization becomes another victim of a successful hacking attempt.

Regular Penetration Tests

Finally, make sure your enterprise IT risk management plan includes penetration tests to ensure that your system is always 100% secure. Penetration testing professionals identify vulnerabilities in your IT security system using the same techniques a real hacker would use to access your system such as injection of viruses and malware, password cracking, and social engineering tactics among others. The information you get from a penetration test will be used to update your system and seal all the existing loopholes that a hacker is likely to exploit.