The relevance of a risk assessment
Updated: Nov 8
A risk assessment of your organization’s security posture is the key first step towards approaching cybersecurity as a business risk. Here is why it is important.
When you begin planning the cybersecurity strategy for your business, the most critical aspect is to determine exactly which apps and processes your company cannot afford to be without, as these obviously must be protected first.
The best method of determining this is via an effective risk assessment. High-level risk assessments can be done for a cost that is not prohibitive, but the key is to understand that it must be undertaken from a business risk perspective, rather than from that of a security risk or compliance point of view.
The importance of the assessment goes beyond merely having a clear view of exactly what needs to be done to secure your business. It also provides you with a roadmap in respect of addressing these priorities, and a way to measure the success of the security measures you choose to implement.
Once you know what security controls are needed, you can begin plugging the gaps by implementing better protection measures. A good analogy here would be how, when a person is in pain, their first step is to visit a GP who performs a physical examination, and based on this assessment, recommends further treatment.
This examination is similar to undertaking a risk assessment, in that the consultant undertaking it for you will ask questions, check your physical connections and understand your pain points. Based on their understanding of the data acquired - and similarly to how your GP may recommend you see an orthopedic surgeon, for example - the next step in the security process might also require more diagnostic steps.
This may mean conducting a vulnerability assessment or undertaking penetration testing, in order to determine where the real vulnerabilities exist across your IT infrastructure, and how easy it may be to breach these. One can then recommend which patches are required and their respective priorities, or which other security controls you should install.
After this, it’s about plugging the gaps, such as by implementing stronger identity management and utilizing two- or multi-factor authentication to log in with, or in high-risk environments, deploying24 x 7 security monitoring and incident response services.
An essential part of this process is to put in place processes to monitor and manage the human element within the business, by teaching them security awareness, especially in respect of how to deal with potentially harmful links. Technology can even be implemented here to help - such as by using a green, amber and red alert system to inform users of the potential dangers of a particular link.
Once your gaps are plugged, you can begin the process of ongoing improvement and upgrading of your security measures. Remember, cybercrime continues to evolve at pace, so your security measures have to evolve too. This ongoing improvement can be achieved with regular reviews of your existing security measures.
Remember that achieving such an enhanced level of security maturity, undertaken from a business risk perspective, means that you will have a good business story to tell your clients. It goes without saying that having stronger security in place, as well as an evolving strategy around this, means that you will be in prime position to win a greater number of contracts, or ones of higher value.
And when your security strategy is one that helps improve your profits, it will clearly demonstrate that your cybersecurity strategy is truly a business-enabling tool, rather than the cost center it is traditionally portrayed as.