Cyber security is no longer just a concern for the IT departments in large corporations. Over the last decade, the frequency and variety of cyber attacks have increased drastically. The rise of the dark web and increase in sophistication of tools used to launch attacks has made the job of managing cyber risk more difficult than ever.
Organizations today need a robust cyber security risk management strategy in order to stay on top of all the threats and to respond effectively.
What is Cyber Security Risk Management?
Cybersecurity risk management is the practice of identifying, evaluating and addressing an organization’s cybersecurity threats. It involves developing a strategy to evaluate the potential impact of cyber threats to the organization and prioritizing them to ensure that the most critical threats are handled effectively. While it may not be a foolproof method to prevent all cyber attacks, it does help organizations tackle the most critical flaws, threat trends and attacks and mitigate the eventual damage that may be inflicted.
Why is Cyber Security Important?
Many organizations still treat cybersecurity as an afterthought, with policies and processes to be updated in the event of an attack. This can be fatal and without an ongoing review process that assesses the risk of cyber attacks, organizations can be caught off-guard by new and evolving threats.
With businesses increasingly moving their operations to the cloud, there is also a need to think about how they can manage security of their assets in the cloud. Additionally, new regulations are also being introduced and changed to meet and keep up with the changing threat landscape, as government bodies and authorities are becoming more aware of how these attacks can impact the economy and the nation’s reputation.
What is a Cyber Threat?
While cyber threats are commonly associated with malicious actors brute-forcing their way into a network, it can also include other scenarios that compromise security, known as “attack vectors”.
Cyber threats can include any vector that is susceptible to breach and which can be exploited to gain access to an organization’s confidential data in order to cause damage.
These threats broadly fall into four categories – adversarial threats (organized groups like hackers, espionage from nation-states and third-parties), system failure and the resulting data loss, natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes, and last but not the least human error in the form of accidents or individuals falling prey to phishing scams and social engineering tactics.
The common threat vectors in organizations include unauthorized access from malicious actors, misuse of access by authorized users themselves such as those from insider threats, data leaks resulting from improper security configurations and backup processes, as well as downtime due to service disruption which can open an organization to bigger threats such as DDoS attacks.
Benefits of Cyber Security Risk Management
Having a robust cyber security risk management in place allows an organization to proactively stay on top of cyber security threats and avoid the negative consequences of cyber attacks. By following a concrete set of procedures and policies, an organization can be ready to mitigate the effects of a cyber attack and keep critical business operations running normally.
Cybersecurity Risk Management plans usually involve procedures and policies that involve phishing detection, cloud security protection of websites against DDoS attacks, ransomware and other attacks as well as monitoring of data leakage and sensitive credentials.
How to Develop a Cyber Security Risk Management Process
Developing a cyber security risk management requires a strategic approach that prioritizes the most critical threats and which lays out the steps to take in order to attend to these threats. The process should include steps for identifying, assessing and mitigating risks as well as plans for monitoring them on a regular basis. There are 4 common stages involved in developing a cybersecurity risk management process.
- Identifying risk – where you examine your organization’s IT environment to identify risks that are current or which could affect operations in the future
- Assessing risk – where the identified risks are analyzed to see how much of an impact they will have on your organization
- Controlling risk – where you document the specific plans, procedures and tools to effectively mitigate the risks
- Reviewing – which lays out the steps for evaluating how effective your controls are at mitigating the risks, and how to go about adjusting them on a regular basis.
What are the Best Practices in Cyber Security Risk Management?
The exact processes and procedures that an organization prescribes in their cyber security risk management strategy can vary but they generally cover some essential best practices.
Know Your Organization’s IT Environment
Understanding all the components of your IT environment is crucial in order to protect the most sensitive data. Audit your IT environment to document all data, digital assets, devices (including BYOT), endpoints, networks and workflows. Don’t forget to account for third party components and services. Go further and prioritize these assets so you can divert more resources to the most valuable and business-critical assets.
Strictly Monitor Your Environment
Your IT environment is never static. It is important to continuously monitor this as and when new elements are introduced into the environment or when old or obsolete elements leave it. You will especially want to stay on top of regulatory developments, new vendor onboarding and what technologies your internal teams are using.
Identify The Potential Risks
Understand the likelihood of existing threats exploiting a vulnerability and assess the potential consequences. Threats can affect your routine operations through unauthorized access to confidential data and can be in the form of hostile attacks automated by bots, human errors, system failures or even accidents. An effective web application firewall can also go a long way towards protecting web applications from threats such as credential stuffing and zero-day vulnerabilities.
Build a Cyber Security Risk Management Plan
Once you identify your risks, develop a plan for responding and escalating. This should include actions for employees and stakeholders to follow, which should be integrated into their training. This should also be updated as and when the need arises.
Prepare and Train Your Employees
An organization’s employees can be the weakest link in cyber security if they are not trained properly to implement the best practices. So it is crucial to document your strategies, plans and procedures so that all stakeholders can be made aware and trained to manage cyber risks.
Enable the Basic Security Features
Last but not the least, there are some basic cyber security services that ought to be enabled such as an intelligent web application firewall (WAF), automating patching of software and multi-factor authentication (MFA). CDNetworks offers Application Shield, a cloud-based solution that integrates WAF with DDoS protection and Content Delivery Network (CDN) acceleration. This solution has the ability to constantly learn and protect web applications from new malicious actors and attack vectors, so as to keep your business safe and operational.