Information and communications technology (ICT) security is concerned with identifying, managing, controlling, and minimizing risk to your organization’s vital assets. The fact is that if you work in security, you are in the risk management industry regardless of how much you like it.
What is the purpose of a security risk Assessment?
Identifying and evaluating the risks associated with cyberattacks is the goal of a cybersecurity risk assessment. It’s all about identifying both internal and external risks, assessing their potential impact on things like data availability, confidentiality, and integrity, and calculating the costs of a cybersecurity disaster. Using this data, you can customize your cybersecurity and data protection rules to fit your organization’s actual risk tolerance.
Three key questions must be addressed before beginning an IT security risk assessment:
1. What are the most important information technology assets of your company, the data that, if lost or exposed, would have a significant impact on your business?
2. Is this information necessary for any of the company’s most important business processes?
3. What risks do these business functions face, and how could they be affected?
The sooner you know what you need to protect, the sooner you can start designing a plan of attack. Prior to spending any money or effort adopting a risk-reduction strategy, make sure you know exactly the risk you’re addressing, how important it is to your business and whether you’re taking the most cost-effective approach.
Components and formulas of an IT risk assessment
These are the four essential elements.
There are four major components to an IT risk assessment. To help you understand what each one means, here’s a short definition for each:
A danger can inflict harm by exploiting any weakness in a system. An example of a vulnerability is using an out-of-date antivirus program, which can be exploited by malware. Having a server room in the basement increases the risk of equipment damage and downtime in the event of a hurricane or flood.
Disgruntled personnel and old equipment are also examples of threats. There is a list of code-based vulnerabilities in the NIST National Vulnerability Database (NVD).
If a threat could hurt an organization’s people or assets, it’s a problem. Natural calamities, website malfunctions, and corporate espionage are just a few examples.
Vulnerabilities can be exploited by a threat to cause total damage to an organization. Additionally, the loss of client data or trade secrets in the event of a ransomware attack might lead to lost company, legal expenditures, and penalties.
This is how likely it is that a threat will materialize. Many times, a range rather than an exact number is used.
IT security risk assessments should be performed by a qualified individual.
It is necessary to take a comprehensive strategy to identify all your security vulnerabilities. In a comprehensive risk assessment, representatives from all departments where vulnerabilities can be found and contained should be included instead of depending on a few IT team members. Look for people who know how the organization uses data.
Depending on the size of your company, it may be tough to put together a thorough IT risk assessment team. Businesses without an IT department may need to hire a firm that specializes in IT risk assessment to handle the process, while larger firms may prefer to have their own internal IT teams take the lead.
How to Perform a security assessment
The next step is to walk through the IT risk assessment procedure.
The number of Steps is following:
1. Assets should be identified and prioritized
Servers, client contact information, confidential partner documents, and other proprietary information are examples of assets. Make sure to keep in mind that what you as a technician think is important may not be what is most important to the business. It is therefore imperative that the list of valuable assets be compiled with input from both business users and management alike. The following information should be gathered for each asset:
● Software ● Data ● Users ● Mission or Purpose ● Functional requirements ● IT Security architecture ● Information storage protection ● Technical security controls ● Hardware ● Interfaces ● Support personnel ● Criticality ● IT Security Policies ● Network Topology ● Information flow ● Physical security environment
It is likely that you will have to limit the scope of remaining processes to only those assets that are vital to your business. In this regard, you must establish a criterion for assigning value to each item. The asset’s monetary value, legal status, and importance to the organisation are among the most common considerations. To categorise each asset, utilise the standard once it has been accepted by management and put into the risk assessment security policy.
2. Threats should be identified
The term “threat” refers to anything that could affect your business. There are a number of other hazards that may not immediately come to mind, such as hackers and malware.
● Hardware failure: The quality and age of a server or other machine affects the chance of hardware failure. The risk of failure is low when using new, high-quality equipment. Older or equipment from a “unknown” vendor have a substantially greater failure rate. Regardless of what industry you’re in, this threat should be on your radar. An email could contain a dangerous link, or an employee could spill coffee on a piece of equipment that contains vital information.
● Natural Disaster: The data on servers and other equipment can be destroyed in a variety of natural disasters, including floods, storms, earthquakes, and fire. When choosing a location for your servers, consider the likelihood of certain natural calamities. Floods and tornadoes are two examples of natural disasters that can occur in your area.
● Malicious behaviour: Malicious activity can be classified into three categories:
★ Interception: Your personal information is at risk because of this crime.
★ Interference: Your business can be negatively affected when someone deletes data or sets up a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack on your website.
Theft of your data is the result of interception.
★ Impersonation: There are many ways to get someone else’s credentials, such as social engineering attacks, brute-force attacks, or purchases on the dark web.
3. Vulnerabilities must be identified
A threat to your organisation can exploit a weakness in your organization’s defences. Analyses, audit reports, vendor data, information security test and evaluation (ST&E), penetration testing as well as automated vulnerability scanning programmes can identify vulnerabilities.
In addition to software vulnerabilities, there are also physical and human vulnerabilities that need to be considered. Having your server room in the basement raises the risk of floods and failing to educate your employees about the dangers of clicking on email links increases the risk of infection.
4. Controls should be examined
Determine whether there are any safeguards in place or in the works to prevent a threat from exploiting a vulnerability. This includes encryption, intrusion detection systems and solutions for user identity and authentication. Security policies, administrative measures, and physical and environmental processes are examples of nontechnical controls.
Preventive and investigative controls can be applied to both technological and nontechnical systems. Examples of preventive controls include encryption and authentication devices, which, as their name suggests, try to anticipate, and thwart assaults before they happen. Audit trails and intrusion detection systems are examples of detective controls that are employed to detect risks that have occurred or are still in progress.
5. Calculate the Probability of an Incident
Assess the likelihood that a vulnerability will be exploited, taking into consideration the type of vulnerability, the capability and motive of the threat source, and the existence and efficacy of your controls. As opposed to assigning a numerical value to the risk of an assault or other undesirable occurrence, several organisations utilise the categories “high,” “medium,” and “low.”
6. Evaluate a Threat’s Impact
Consider the following criteria when assessing the impact of a loss or damage on the asset:
● The purpose of the asset and any operations that rely on it
● The asset’s worth to the company
● The asset’s sensitivity
Begin by conducting a business impact analysis (BIA) or mission impact analysis study to gather this information. There are two ways of assessing the potential harm to an organization’s information assets in this document: quantitatively and qualitatively. There are three levels of impact on the system: high, medium, and low.
7. Prioritize IT Security Risks
Determine the degree of risk to the IT system based on the following for each threat/vulnerability pair:
● The threat’s capacity to take advantage of the vulnerability
● Estimated costs for each of these events.
● Existing or planned information system security controls’ effectiveness in preventing or decreasing the risk
Using a risk-level matrix is an effective method for determining the amount of risk. When it comes to threats, a high likelihood (1.0), medium likely (0.5), and low likelihood (0.1) are all given a numerical grade. High impact levels are given 100 points, medium impact levels 50 points, and low impact levels 10 points
each. There are three levels of risk: high, medium, and low, depending on the results of multiplying the threat likelihood and impact values.
8. ADVISE CONTROLS
Determine the activities needed to reduce the risk based on the risk level. For each level of risk, below are some general recommendations:
High: As quickly as feasible, a plan for corrective action should be drawn up.
Medium: A timeline for developing a plan for corrective steps is essential.
Low: The group must decide on whether or not to take the risk.
Consider the following factors when evaluating risk mitigation controls:
● The rules and regulations of a company
● Cost-benefit evaluation
● Feasibility and operational impacts
● Regulations that apply
● Effectiveness of the recommended measures as a whole
● Assurance and dependability
9. Result Recording
Risk assessment reports help management make informed decisions on budgets, policies, processes, and so on, as a last step of the process. The report should identify the specific vulnerabilities, the assets at risk, the impact on your IT infrastructure, the likelihood of occurrence, and the recommended controls for each threat.
Remediation strategies that can lessen various risks can be found in a risk assessment report. Even a simple precaution like taking a regular off-site backup will help protect against both unintentional file loss and floods. There should be a breakdown of each step’s associated costs and business justifications.