A cyber risk assessment is part of an organization’s data protection effort, and is designed to help companies identify, estimate, and prioritize cyber risk to their operations and business assets.
Risk assessment for cybersecurity is necessary for any company that relies on information systems and technology to do business. Because cyber threats are a real and very costly line item in the security of any organization, companies of all sizes assess the risks that surround them by examining likely attack routes, the potential impact on business, and the estimated cost of a potential attack. It is through such calculations that companies can make informed decisions about their security investments.
What is Cyber Risk?
Cyber risk is a term that accounts for all the potential threats that exist in an organization’s technological landscape at any given time. New cyber risks emerge daily, causing a company’s risk level to change continuously. Cyber risk depends on internal factors like a company’s security posture, and external factors like hacking trends, political and financial climates, national and international laws, regulations, and policies.
Why Perform a Cyber Risk Assessment?
Ongoing risk assessment for cybersecurity is needed to assess:
- The security of third-party tools and services
- A company’s development process of its own technological products and tools
- The company’s core assets that are the most likely targets for cyberattacks
- The security posture of the organization relative to the threats it faces
Key Factors in Cyber Risk Assessment
A cyber risk assessment should answer the following questions:
- What are the company’s most valued assets?
- What type of attack would have the largest impact on the business?
- What technology is the company using for security?
- How comprehensive and granular is the company’s existing security plan?
- How often does the company check for vulnerabilities?
- How often is the company’s security strategy reassessed?
These should be deduced from these questions:
- What is the company’s current policy about security training of employees?
- What level of access do employees have to company assets and how is this enforced?
- Is the company using third-party vendors? If so, can the company’s security team map each third-party provider?
Answering these questions will give all stakeholders a clear and concise picture of where security stands in their organization and will answer the following:
- What is the level of risk the company is comfortable taking?
- What are the risks that are being reduced or eliminated through security measures?
- Is the company utilizing a prioritization system based on risk severity?
- Is the company reducing risk in the most cost-effective way?
What Will Factor into Cyber Risk Assessments in 2023?
Global issues which are affecting the political and economic landscape have not gone unnoticed by cybercriminals and are impacting cybersecurity for companies of all sizes and across all industries. Increased security budgets, the Russian threat to OT, and the accelerated adoption of third-party services are some of the big trends we are going to see in 2023 that should be considered in cyber risk assessments.
Increased Demand for Cyber Risk Quantification
IT spending will reach $4.6 trillion globally in 2023. The top category to benefit from the increased IT budget will be cyber and information security, slotted to take 66% of the increased budget according to recent Gartner forecasts. With cybersecurity’s rising budgets, executive boards will demand greater visibility into cybersecurity costs. This will, in-turn, give way to an increased need for measuring, quantifying, and prioritizing the cyber risks companies face. With management and executive boards showing greater interest in security, cyber risk quantification will become a must-have for security professionals.
Greater Risk to Operational Technology
Malicious actors have long since understood the value of OT systems as attack targets and have shown a growing interest in OT throughout 2022. Such hackers will display a greater interest in OT environments in 2023, especially those linked to critical infrastructures. This trend will make cyber risk assessment for OT environments a particularly important line item for the coming year.
As such, robust operational technology (OT) security will be crucial as organizations of all sizes become potential targets of either direct attack or casualties in larger attacks directed at government and national-level institutions. The main culprit in this trend could very well be Russia, with the Russia-Ukraine war continuing to serve as a potent backdrop for Russian cyberwarfare directed at Western entities.
If in 2022 Russia gave the world a taste of its attack capabilities, in 2023 it will continue to direct efforts towards bringing down former Soviet ruled countries. A recent example of such cyberwarfare is the January and February attacks on the Ukraine which preluded the breakout of war between the two nations. Russia may also attempt additional attacks on Western entities, similar in nature to the October 2022 attack on 14 U.S. airport websites believed to have been executed by pro-Russian hacker group Killnet.
Continued Adoption of Third-Party Vendors
The increasing reliance on outsourcing services for many parts of companies’ business needs has resulted in a distinct rise in third-party data breaches throughout 2022. Morley Companies, which provides data management services to Fortune 500 and Global 100 corporations, was hacked in 2022, resulting in 520,000 protected health information (PHI) files being leaked. Also on the cusp of 2022, Major League Baseball’s databases were hacked through a third-party consulting company, Horizon Actuarial, that managed MLB’s health and benefits plans. In February 2022, the auto manufacturing giant Toyota was forced to shut down operations in Japan after a major plastic supplier, Kojima, suffered a data breach.
Due to the cost-effective benefits of using outsourced services and the ever-growing improvements of third-party tools and functionalities, this trend will continue in 2023, making third-party security a prominent part of cyber risk assessments.
Strategies for Performing a Cyber Risk Assessment
An effective cyber risk assessment strategy will help a company evaluate its vulnerability level and should include the following:
- Continuous monitoring of a company’s IT, OT, and IOT
- A holistic approach covering all assets and leaving no blind spots
- Quantified and prioritized risk based on severity and threat to critical assets
How CYE Can Help
CYE’s clients ranging in size and industry depend on us to assess, quantify, and mitigate cyber risk so they can make better security decisions and invest in effective remediation.
CYE considers multiple factors when assessing an organization’s cyber risk, including the type of attacker, the business assets at risk, and the severity of vulnerabilities. Using this data, CYE maps possible attack routes and then recommends which gaps should be closed.
In this way, CYE helps companies receive full visibility into their cyber risk and gain control of their cybersecurity plan, putting a dollar value to each action item suggested to keep the company’s core assets secure.
Want to learn more about how CYE can help protect your company from cyber threats? Contact us.