A report by Cyber Security Ventures predicts that by the year 2021, cybercrime damage across the world is expected to hit the $6 trillion mark. That’s twice as much as cybercrime cost businesses worldwide in 2015. This is not surprising given that too many organizations are today vulnerable to attacks due to the use of unapproved apps, overreliance on poor password protections, unmanaged devices, and a host of other security issues. As we embrace digital transformation, we should also increase control over our IT infrastructures and more importantly learn to identify, understand, manage, and minimize cybersecurity risks.
What is a Cybersecurity Risk?
YA risk can broadly be defined as the potential to suffer loss or harm. It is a human or non-human threat that exploits an existing vulnerability in an organization’s IT infrastructure resulting in unwanted or unexpected outcomes such as loss of resources, loss of access to data, modification of data, or disclosure of information to unauthorized people with malicious intent. All these outcomes have negative impacts on the company or organization such as loss of customers, loss of revenue, and high recovery costs. There are also regulatory penalties and fines imposed on the organization after suffering a cybersecurity attack.
Cybersecurity Risks Management
Risk management in IT is the process of identifying, assessing, understanding, and mitigating security threats and their impact on the organization’s information system and operations. A risk assessment can be done on any application, process, or function in the organization. However, conducting a risk assessment on every aspect of your organization is realistically impossible which is why you need to first develop an operational framework matching the size and scope of your organization.
The operational framework identifies internal and external components of the organization that play a key role in operations including systems responsible for processing, transmitting, and storing sensitive data such as customer credit card data and the organization’s financial information. Once these critical components have been identified, you can then formulate a risk assessment schedule.
Identifying Potential Threats
Risk assessment will also involve a process of identifying potential threats and taking the necessary precautionary measures before the threats become a reality. Every organization has its unique types of risks based on the area of operation, size, and type of data the organization processes, stores, or transmits.
However, the most common types of threats include the following:
- Unauthorized access to sensitive data. This could either be an accidental or malicious access to data from a hacking attack.
- Unencrypted devices. If an organization permits the use of unencrypted devices such as USB sticks and CD-ROMs, it becomes susceptible to malware and phishing attacks. Poor paper retention and destruction practices also increase the risk potential.
- Transmission of non-public data over unsecured channels or sending information to the wrong recipients accidentally increases the risk potential too.
- Misuse of company information by staff. This could be due to unintentional disclosure of information when staff fall victim to social engineering schemes by hackers.
Threats are rated according to the potential impact they can have on the organization. They can be rated as high if the impact they have is substantial, medium if the damage can be recovered on time or is inconvenient and low if the impact is minimal or even non-existent.
Securing Your Infrastructure
Once you have identified the risks, the next step is to take measures to prevent them from becoming a reality. You’ll need to identify systems, infrastructure, and platforms that have been protected. These include some or all of the following depending on your organization:
- Wi-Fi routers as well as switches
- Company websites and landing pages
- Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
- Your social media accounts and profiles
- Point of sale systems
- Your network of printers
The company’s manufacturing systems and much more.
Laws and Regulatory Requirements
Besides securing the organization’s internal and external systems, you’ll also need to ensure that your organization complies with laws and regulatory requirements associated with information security standards. Compliance with cyber safety regulatory requirements will depend on the industry you are in and the structure of your business. There are strict regulatory standards for businesses that process, transmit, and store credit card information from their customers. A good example is the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI/DSS) which helps to protect cardholder’s data. Your organization must comply with PCI/DSS policies if it accepts, processes, and stores credit card information from customers.
Cybersecurity Risk Mitigation Best Practices
There are countless ways you can manage and minimize cybersecurity risks depending on the size and scope of your organization.
Here are a few cybersecurity best practices applicable to every type of organization:
- Cybersecurity awareness campaigns. Introduce awareness campaigns to the organization at all levels from the management to frontline staff, third-party companies you regularly deal with, partners, and customers. Tran all these people on basic safety practices such as how to identify and avoid phishing messages and spam.
- Implement a cybersecurity reporting system. When you have an efficient cybersecurity reporting process in place, employees can communicate to the relevant IT security department faster when a threat is identified and have the issue resolved before it can cause further damage.
- Collaborate with peers in your industry. Share information with other players in your industry to stay updated with cybersecurity threats affecting your industry and how to prevent them.
- Stay updated on emerging data protection processes and tools to ensure that your business is secure at all times.
More importantly, your organization should run penetration tests by independent information security services such as Venkon mainly for two reasons. The first one is to identify potential risks in your infrastructure that your IT team may be unaware of and secondly to get compliance certification from cybersecurity regulatory bodies. Venkon helps companies and organizations solve their data security challenges by simulating real-life cyber-attacks on your IT infrastructure. These penetration tests help to identify and mitigate potential threats to your company’s information security.