Whether entrepreneurs run a small business or a large enterprise, conducting frequent cyber security risk assessments to analyze their information security risk is critical to ensuring the protection of their data and that of their customers.

FREMONT, CA: There are numerous reasons for every firm to do a complete cyber security risk assessment at least every two years. Of course, the primary reason why cyber security risk assessments are critical is to better protect businesses against threats such as ransomware attacks that could bring their entire operation to halt or data breaches that could expose their customers' data and tarnish their brand's reputation in the eyes of both customers and stakeholders. Apart from this, completing frequent cyber security risk assessments enables firms to comply with regulatory requirements such as HIPAA's standards for healthcare organizations, the PCI DSS standards, and the GDPR standards and avoid the associated penalties. Finally, a cyber security risk assessment enables enterprises and their workers to understand better business, its defenses, and its vulnerabilities, all of which can be beneficial if companies ever find themselves scrambling to respond to a cyberattack.

By assisting companies in strengthening firewalls against cyberattacks, conducting a cyber security risk assessment can help them reduce the costs associated with security incidents and the downtime they cause, assist companies in developing a better understanding of their vulnerabilities and where to allocate their resources, assist them in better securing their data to avoid breaches and their associated financial consequences, and assist firms in preventing the theft of their sensitive data, intellectual property, and other proprietary information.

How to Conduct a Risk Assessment for Cyber Security

Conducting a cyber security risk assessment begins with determining the framework to use. Having stated that some of the fundamental steps of a cyber security risk assessment are as follows:

Determine the Data's Value: Not all data is created equal, and some of the information a business collects and stores is more critical to safeguard than others. Thus, the first step in completing a cyber security risk assessment is identifying the data required for the most protection. This could include data that is critical to a business's operation and sensitive data such as consumer credit card information that could have a severe impact if it fell into the wrong hands. Sensitive data, like trade secrets and client information, is always a top priority due to data theft's long-term consequences. However, data that is crucial to the day-to-day running is also critical to preserve since its loss could result in protracted downtime for the business.

Begin cyber security risk assessment by examining all of the company's data, categorizing it, and prioritizing each data category based on its importance for security.

Make a List of Assets and Prioritize Them: After identifying the organization's most critical data, the next stage in conducting a cyber security risk assessment is to emphasize the information assets required to secure that data. This comprises the hardware and software used to store the data and assets, such as the personnel who have access to the data, physical security measures, and information technology security protocols. The assets companies want to assess fall into four categories: people, processes, technology, and data—and it's critical to study each one to identify the relative importance of each asset category and an individual asset to the overall security. After identifying these assets, companies will want to prioritize them based on the worth of the data they assist secure and their significance in accomplishing that goal.