Test your cybersecurity readiness
A security assessment is an exercise that tests your organization’s security posture by identifying potential risks, evaluating the existing controls, and suggesting new controls.
You can do regular security risk assessments internally; it should be a joint effort between your IT staff and business unit leaders.
We’ve created this security assessment template to make the process easier. It incorporates all the components of a thorough check up of your systems and will help you put a more solid security strategy in place.
Use our security assessment template to save time and effort in building a framework for your cybersecurity strategy.
Modules and Tasks
When it comes to an IT security assessments, there are 4 relevant components to focus on:
– Threat assessment
– Vulnerability assessment
– Risk assessment
– Impact assessment
Threat assessment is the process of identifying and rating the factors that can impact on your
business by disrupting it:
● Identification. List any factors that may lead to an unfavorable event, such as system
downtime, ransomware attacks, data loss, or business disruption. These factors can either be man-made or natural disasters. Use past experiences of your own or of your peers, as well as news reports and industry statistics, to build a comprehensive list of threats.
● Assessment. Evaluate threats and grade them in terms of their capability of carrying out an attack (ability to cause damage) and their level of motivation (degree to which the threat agent wants to inflict damage). Give a low rating to threats that have little or no capability and motivation and a high rating to those that are both highly capable and
highly motivated. This grading system for threats will help you quantify the risks, which we’ll discuss in more detail later in this article.
● Management action. Develop plans to address the identified threats. If the threat stems from within the organization, such as employee frustration, try to address it with help from HR. For natural disaster threats, put controls in place to minimize the impact. Also, explore your system for vulnerabilities that the threat may target. (We cover this in more
detail in the next section on vulnerability assessments.)
Vulnerability assessment is the process of identifying weaknesses and vulnerabilities present
in your system that may be subject to attack:
● Identification. Catalog your IT assets and list their potential vulnerabilities. This could be an unprotected data storage system, use of weak passwords, unprotected communication lines, or staff with inadequate security awareness training. Penetration tests, which simulate cyberattacks to identify vulnerabilities, are one way to identify gaps in your system. A less costly option is to use IT security software or a dedicated vulnerability scanning tool, which crawls your systems to check for weak spots.
● Assessment. Grade vulnerabilities according to their severity (extent of damage caused if the vulnerability is exploited) and their exposure (other assets that will be affected when the vulnerability is exploited). Rate each vulnerability on a scale of 1 to 5 based on severity and exposure level, where 5 is the most severe with the highest level of exposure.
● Management action. Discuss actions that will help prevent vulnerabilities from being exploited. Patch management tools can help you quickly plug some holes. For long-term solutions, review and update your security strategies and policies.
Risk assessment is the process of measuring the probability of exploiting a vulnerability found in your system:
● Identification. This stage identifies how the threats you’ve identified in the first step will exploit your system vulnerabilities, which you identified in the second step. You’ll also need to look at which assets are at risk, as well as who could be affected.
● Assessment. Assess how probable the occurrence of the risk event is and the potential loss as a result of it. The likelihood of a risk depends on the strength of the threat and the extent of the vulnerability. For example, there is a higher risk of a hacker spying on your system when you’re on unsecured public Wi-Fi than of a natural calamity destroying your database systems.
● Management action. Identify tools and processes that will mitigate your risks. You must also evaluate how efficient your existing systems are in the face of these risks. Patch vulnerabilities to bring risk levels to the lowest likelihood.
Impact assessment estimating and predicting damage assessment to your business in case of a security breach or incident occurrence:
According to Common Vulnerability Scoring System , an open framework for recording the severity of software vulnerabilities, impact is measured using the following three metrics:
● Confidentiality. The effect a security breach has on the privacy of the data stored in the system.
● Integrity. A measure of how the authenticity of the data has changed after a breach.
● Availability. This metric calculates the loss of availability of the IT system affected by the cyberattack.
System downtime, loss of work hours, and data loss due to a security breach impacts your day-to-day operations. A cyberattack can also cause customer churn and invite action from regulatory bodies.
The full impact is not usually not limited to one area, but affects many facets of your business: brand equity, employee morale, financial strength, business partnerships, and more.