Cybersecurity Risk Assessments: Everything You Need to Know

Data or network protection, business people press shield icon, virus security. Data protection and insurance Business security concepts, information security against virus. binary number 1010.

Cybersecurity risk assessments are central to developing a proactive risk management strategy and enhancing your customer base at both the private and federal government or public sector level. 

And without taking the time to understand potential threats and put measures into place to mitigate their effects, any number of costly issues can arise.

However, understanding and overcoming cybersecurity risk is no easy feat. For third-party government contractors, there are a series of frameworks organizations can follow to streamline the process – such as NIST 800-171, NIST CMMC, NIST CSF, ISO 27001 – but even with a solid roadmap to turn to, cybersecurity risk assessments can be a complex process to navigate without proper planning and expertise.

As experts in helping organizations develop comprehensive risk strategies and safeguard their systems from threat, we’ve outlined everything you need to know about cybersecurity risk assessments.

Important things to know about cybersecurity risk assessments:

What is a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment?

Cybersecurity risk assessments involve the evaluation of a company’s potential threats and vulnerabilities to inform proactive risk management and outline what the organization needs to do to safeguard their people, processes, and systems from attack.

It is typically best to conduct this process alongside a trusted consultant or team of IT security and compliance experts, as these individuals have the specialized knowledge that is needed to quickly identify and overcome potential threats, ensure employees are properly trained, avoid compliance hurdles, and pave the way for a more secure outcome.

What happens during a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment?

  • Data Gathering: Compiling relevant data surrounding the company’s IT infrastructure.
  • Assessment of Cybersecurity Risks and Threats: Evaluating the potential for each threat to occur and using this information to prioritize risks based on their severity.
  • Cybersecurity Risk Mitigation Strategy Development & IT Control Implementation: Developing a proactive risk management strategy based on high priority risks and implementing additional controls to safeguard people, processes, and systems.
  • Continuous Monitoring & Optimization: Establishing processes to review the new IT infrastructure on an ongoing basis to ensure existing threats are properly mitigated and that any emerging issues can be proactively addressed.

Which type of companies should conduct a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment?

Any company that does or is seeking to do business with government agencies and/or contractors should conduct a risk assessment and follow the best practices outlined in relevant IT compliance frameworks (e.g. NIST 800-171).

In addition, companies who are looking to do business with larger, enterprise-level clients are also often required to conduct a risk assessment – but the specifics will depend on the client and the IT compliance framework they must adhere to.

Lastly, any company that processes large amounts of sensitive data should strongly consider conducting a cybersecurity risk assessment (e.g. financial institutions such banks and investment firms, healthcare organizations, and insurance companies).

How is Cybersecurity Risk measured?

The methods in which cybersecurity risk should be measured will depend on the company’s individual needs, goals, and situation (such as the objective of the assessment, available resources, and the level of analysis that needs to be conducted).

However, cybersecurity risk is typically measured via predefined qualitative and/or quantitative assessment methodologies – and some assessments, such as NIST, have specific rules and practices that must be followed.

How often should Cybersecurity Risk Assessments be performed?

The cadence in which a company should seek to perform a cybersecurity risk assessment requires careful consideration of company’s unique circumstances, risk tolerance, regulatory requirements, and the severity of the threat – but best practice is to conduct one at least on a yearly basis.

In addition, some organizations are required to disclose cybersecurity incidents shortly after they occur, and conducting an assessment post-incident can be helpful for understanding how and where vulnerabilities arose.

Lastly, certain data privacy laws such as the Texas Data Privacy and Security Act can be more easily adhered to if a company conducts an assessment to identify, understand, and overcome risks ahead of time.

Final Thoughts on Cybersecurity Risk Assessments

In sum, cybersecurity risk assessments function as helpful tools that provide companies with the information they need to proactively address potential threats and vulnerabilities.

However, this process – while essential – can use a company’s available time and resources, distracting from both day-to-day initiatives and long-term growth goals. As such, it is often best to conduct this process alongside a trusted partner who has the specialized knowledge to ensure a swift yet reliable identification of threats and set the stage for a more secure future.

If you need IT security and compliance support, our team at Bridgepoint Consulting is ready to help you with:

  • Identifying and mitigating risks.
  • Providing an understanding of how risks can impact your organization.
  • Conducting risk assessments.
  • Assisting with compliance with laws and regulations.
  • Creating an action plan to address the risks not mitigated.
  • Implementing industry-leading IT security and compliance controls and safeguards.

Looking to Conduct a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment?

Bridgepoint Consulting translates insight to action by equipping organizations with proactive, on-demand solutions so they can embrace uncertainty, mitigate risk, and empower organizational growth. Contact us to learn more about how we can help or sign up for a free assessment today at the link below.