Cybersecurity

Defining and Mitigating Cybersecurity Risk

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Cyber threats show no signs of diminishing. For leaders in businesses and other organisations, it is imperative to understand the risks of cyberattacks and have a robust risk management framework to protect your organisation’s core assets. In this blog, I’ll outline the essentials needed to mitigate cybersecurity risks and strengthen your cybersecurity risk posture.

What is Cyber Risk?

You can think of cyber risk as the possibility of something bad happening. That’s a very broad definition, as many bad things can theoretically happen to businesses, IT systems, data, and people. From a cyber security risk standpoint, we can define some components that are useful when thinking about cyber risk:

Threats – Attack vectors or events that can negatively impact the organisation. Examples include cyberattacks, malware, insider threats, or persistent threats.

Vulnerabilities – Weaknesses within systems, networks, or processes that threats exploit. Examples include unpatched software, misconfigurations, poor password practices, and others.

Impact – The severity and consequences if a threat successfully exploits a vulnerability. Impacts can be financial, operational, reputational, or regulatory. Or all of these in most cases.

 

Core Cybersecurity Risk Concepts

 

Here are some core concepts that are important to know when thinking about risk mitigation. =

Risk is inevitable – While organisations can’t completely eradicate risk, they can manage it through appropriate measures and techniques.

Compliance is not synonymous with security – A checklist mentality, while necessary, can fall short. Good security arises from a deep understanding of real-world risks and continuous improvement.

Uncertainty is inherent – Risk analysis is about making the best decisions possible amidst uncertainty. It’s impossible to know all risks at all times, so a focus on resilience is essential.

 

Mitigating Cyber Risk

Like other management activities, mitigation of risk is open to business processes. Experience and best practices across many organisations show that the steps outlined below are a solid framework for building and maintaining a robust cyber risk mitigation strategy:

  1. Identify – Catalogue your most critical assets — from sensitive data to essential systems. Pinpoint the likely threats to these assets.
  2. Analyse – Assess your assets carefully. Employ methodologies like threat modelling and risk assessments to prioritise the most severe risks. Quantify the impact of the most critical systems being offline, if possible. Use the figures obtained to demonstrate how costly this will be and use it as leverage to secure funding for cybersecurity protections.
  3. Mitigate – You can handle the list of quantified and prioritised risks in several ways –
    • Avoid the risk – Can you eliminate the risk entirely by replacing the IT system? Maybe a particular technology is not fixable and needs to be replaced.
    • Reduce the risk – Implement layered security solutions and procedures to lessen the risk (Endpoint Detection & Response, encryption, etc.) to bolster cybersecurity on that system (and across the broader infrastructure).
    • Transfer the risk – Use cyber insurance to offset financial implications. This is increasingly hard to do as insurers want to see strong cybersecurity measures in place before underwriting cyber insurance. Plus, insuring against financial loss does not protect against reputational damage and ongoing loss of trust with customers and business partners.
    • Accept – Sometimes an organisation can accept a low-level risk with a low impact if mitigations prove costly. If the impact of a system getting compromised is low, then accepting the risk may be a suitable option.
  4. Monitor and Review – Your risk profile changes constantly. Maintaining continuous monitoring and frequent reviews of the threat landscape to identify new risks and then adjusting defence strategies is vital.
  5. Employee Training and Awareness – Human error is a significant factor in successful cybersecurity attacks. Regular training and awareness programs can significantly reduce this risk factor.
  6. Invest in Suitable Technology and Expertise – Leverage advanced security technologies and engage cybersecurity professionals. This combination is critical in defending against sophisticated and ever-changing cyber threats.

Final Thoughts

The last point in the above list is crucial. Staying on top of the ever-changing threat landscape and the attack methods used by bad actors is a full-time commitment. Cybersecurity professionals in Halodata and our partner and vendor network are 100% focused on mitigating the threats faced by businesses, large and small. Talk to us today for the best advice on building and maintaining an effective cybersecurity risk mitigation program.

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