A strong cybersecurity program is all about risk management.
The most important question your business can ask is, “How can I mitigate risk? Cyber risks are business risks. Taking a risk-based approach to cybersecurity helps leaders balance cyber risks against corporate opportunities.
To improve your company’s cybersecurity management, focus your efforts on risk management. Develop an ongoing process where you assess, remediate, and monitor the changing cybersecurity risks to your organization.
In this post, we will review what cybersecurity risk management is and five key best practices to keep you on track.
What is cybersecurity risk management?
Simply put, cybersecurity risk management is the process of identifying cyber risks and developing strategies to mitigate them. No business is free of cybersecurity risks. Since organizations have become increasingly dependent on technology, the impact of a data breach can be severely harmful. Your company needs to grasp the value of a strong cybersecurity risk management strategy in order to adequately prevent, detect, and respond to threats.
An Interconnected World Presents Greater Risks
In today’s digitally connected world, businesses are finding new ways to create value. If companies don’t effectively adopt new technologies, they quickly become obsolete.
Remember Blockbuster? The empire collapsed because it failed to adapt to the changing digital landscape and update its business plan.
Ignoring disruptive technology won’t make it go away. To keep your business profitable, you need to track trends, make use of modern technologies, and embrace the future. Cognitive computing, robotics, and automation and cloud technologies transform how businesses operate and innovate.
However, evolving your business with new digital innovations while maintaining cybersecurity is no easy task. These digital technologies bring an abundance of business opportunities. But they also expose companies to new risks. The IoT broadens the attack sphere to a massive number of devices. It’s not just your desktop computers and phones that are connected. Planes, trains, automobiles, hospitals, retail outlets, and more all rely on network connectivity to collect and exchange data.
Cyber attacks, intrusions, malware, and data breaches are all real threats to your company. Constant cybersecurity risks include business disruption, destroyed equipment, loss of sensitive information, and a damaged reputation. The new challenges companies face in today’s business landscape are truly mind-boggling.
The Cybersecurity Risk Management Lifecycle
Managing cybersecurity risk is a necessary function of all businesses today. Due to increasingly sophisticated and ever-evolving cyber-attacks, it’s more important than ever to regularly review the threat landscape and adjust control strategies accordingly.
If your company already has a cybersecurity risk management process in place, are you sure it’s effective? Perhaps there’s room for improvement. But how exactly can you take the right approach to managing risk?
To get on the right track, follow these five steps:
1. Understand Your Cybersecurity Risks
The first step to improving your risk management procedures is determining what exactly you need to protect. Begin by locating, categorizing, and assessing your organization’s data and associated assets to lock down scope. Once the scope has been identified, assess threats against assets and existing controls to identify risks.
While identifying your crown jewels is critical for all businesses, recent studies have found that only 45 percent of organizations have a risk assessment process in place.
Threats to your IT systems include:
- Data corruption
- Social engineering
- Human error
An effective cybersecurity risk assessment evaluates risks based on the probability that they will occur and outlines the impact they could have on your business. Only by understanding prioritized risks can you develop cost-effective ways to manage them and improve your cybersecurity controls and culture.
2. Develop a Risk Management Plan
Once you have completed your risk assessment don’t just dwell on the possibility of what could go wrong. Now’s the time to take action and put together an effective risk management plan.
Develop a clear strategy for how your company will prepare for, detect, and respond to threats. While you can’t predict every potential event or incident, a well-designed plan can mitigate a substantial amount of risk.
Policy, process, and procedure development should make up a significant part of the plan. They should outline the importance of managing cybersecurity risk to your staff, customers, and partners. Define acceptable behaviors through a code of conduct and give your staff clear direction on how to navigate cybersecurity issues.
Security policies and procedures should address issues such as:
- Safe email use
- Safe passwords
- Personal use of computer systems
- Anti-virus software
- Restrictions for installing applications
- Response to IT incidents
3. Train Your Employees
Effective cybersecurity risk management cannot come down to one person. The most successful businesses take an all-hands-on-deck approach to cybersecurity risk management.
Communicate your cybersecurity risk management plan to all employees, and make sure they understand its importance. Make policy, process, and procedure training part of the onboarding process, and ensure your current employees also have regular security awareness training sessions. Whether you opt for e-learning courses or in-person classes, make training available to all employees, regardless of location.
No matter what their roles are in the company, all your employees should support your company’s cybersecurity risk management process. By instilling a sense of accountability in your staff, you’ll have more support to mitigate risks and protect your company.
4. Test and Update Your Plan
A single cybersecurity risk assessment is not enough to get an accurate representation of your company’s vulnerabilities. The threat landscape is constantly changing, as cyber-attacks have become more complex and costly for organizations.
Conduct regular cybersecurity risk assessments throughout the year to determine where your company stands, analyze previous risks, and identify new ones.
Assess how effective your cybersecurity risk management plan really is by setting up mock cyber incidents. Can you detect when your company is being threatened? How well can your company withstand the assault? To what extent can your network be compromised?
A penetration test will highlight control gaps and can help you determine how your company will fare in the event of a security crisis. Take note of the strengths and weaknesses of your strategy so you can see what’s working and identify areas of improvement. Update your risk management plan based on these assessments. Your strategy should be fluid in order to reflect your latest discoveries and decisions.
5. Automate Your Security Defenses
Cybercriminals leverage automation to attack—don’t let your organization fall behind by using manual defense methods. Incorporate automation into your cybersecurity control strategy to detect abnormal behavior, prevent threats, and respond to attacks.
Continuous monitoring is the best way to quickly detect malicious activity. By allowing you to spot cyber threats before they can wreak havoc on your company, automatic detection and remediation solutions will save you time and money. Optimize your business efficiency by automating your cyber defense systems.
The benefits of improving your risk management
Improving your cybersecurity risk management takes time and energy. But your efforts will not be in vain. Here are some of the benefits you’ll experience when you take the steps to improve your cybersecurity risk management strategy:
- Make more strategic decisions
- Boost profits
- Gain a competitive advantage
- Provide insights to the board of directors
- Reduce business liability
- Meet compliance standards
- Protect your brand
Adopting a wait-and-see approach to cybersecurity will merely make you a sitting target. Your cybersecurity risk management program is your first line of defense in identifying and addressing vulnerabilities. Improve your cybersecurity risk management to boost business efficiencies, protect your company, and control costs.
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