Security Culture

A Step-by-Step Guide to Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

Organizations that have brilliant security protocols, get breached. Organizations that build their security infrastructure on the latest cybersecurity trends, get breached too.

Much like security experts, cyber attackers are leveraging technology as well. Their attacks are sophisticated and advanced. So, it is essential to regularly assess your organization’s cybersecurity risk management strategies. This process often prevents attackers from taking advantage of the loopholes in cybersecurity risk management strategies. Further, you can identify the strengths of your cybersecurity risk management strategies to build a solid defense mechanism.

Here is a step-by-step guide to efficient Cyber Security Risk Assessment:

Six Steps to Cyber Security Risk Assessment

#1 Derive value out of your data

Picture the worst-case scenario – You do get hacked. But when you are prepared, the hacker can only steal business data that has little value. The theft does not impact the organization. Much like other priorities, you choose the information and data that need to be protected. The best way to do so is to determine the value of such data. Evaluate parameters such as financial/goodwill/reputation loss that might mushroom should the information or data get exposed. Also document the significance of the information/data to the competitor, impact on the overall operational efficiency of the organization, etc. The evaluation criteria, of course, depend on your business.  

#2 Narrow down on vital assets

Assets could mean anything- hardware, trade secrets, patents, key employees, a breakthrough business strategy, security policies, etc. The organization must narrow down on all the vital assets that must stringently go through cybersecurity assessment. For instance, the activities of a key employee who has privileged access to essential systems and applications should be assessed in the high priority list.

#3 Determine cyber threats and risks

Attackers today know the exact nature of an attack that should be launched at the organization. It is imperative to realize that an organization can be affected by both internal threats like weak security protocols, employee errors, unprotected systems, and network security, etc. and external threats such as DDOS attack, social engineering[1], ransomware[2], etc. Organizations should be prepared for the various cyber threats and risks they may be vulnerable to.

#4 Implementation of controls

Implementing controls essentially means scaling up security once potential threats are identified. The organization may choose to change, modify, or revoke the existing controls. Some examples of implementation of controls are choosing the military-grade (256-bit) encryption for data, deploying threat detection mechanisms, layered authentication such as MFA[3] or 2FA, mandating the use of VPN[4] over public/open networks, etc. The organization must see that implementation of controls as a proactive security measure.

#5 Potential cyber risk rating

Cyber attackers are getting smarter with their techniques. It is important to consider the likelihood of valuable data and information being subjected to cyberattacks despite implementing controls. Here is an example of a potential cyber risk rating:
On a scale of 1-10 (one being the lowest), how vulnerable is your data?

Ranking 7-10: Security controls do not suffice, and the possibility of cyber-attack is significant.

Rating 6-4: Security controls may be effective to some extent, although a quick review and modification would help.

Rating 1-3: Security controls are highly effective in combating cyber threats. The possibility of an organization falling victim to cybercrime is very low.

Organizations, however, may choose their own method of rating potential cyber risks.

#6 Calculate a risk score

Typically, a risk score is calculated like this:

Exposure impact * potential cyber risk = risk score

The risk score will give you an idea about how vulnerable the organization’s data/information/assets are to cyber threats. This will aid the management to finalize or modify your security protocols.

Achieve Optimal Cybersecurity with Compact Identity

Cyber Security Risk Assessment sure is a critical process but it is equally taxing. To improve your organization’s cybersecurity posture, investing in a comprehensive Identity and Access Management solution is highly recommended.     


  1. https://www.ilantus.com/blog/social-engineering-understand-well-defend-better/ 06/25/2020
  2. https://www.ilantus.com/blog/how-to-prevent-ransomware-with-identity-and-access-management/ 06/25/2020
  3. https://www.ilantus.com/blog/secure-digital-identities-with-multi-factor-authentication/ 06/25/2020
  4. https://www.ilantus.com/blog/how-secure-is-your-vpn/ 06/25/2020

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