Consulting with a Conscience™

A cruciallogics blog

Written by Omar Rbati
on April 16, 2024

Dedicating an entire team to cyber security might seem like a lot of effort. Still, it's not something you can afford to ignore, especially at a time when cyberattacks are becoming increasingly prevalent. With frequent IT risk assessments, it’s possible to counter cyberattacks before they occur.

IT risk assessment is the key to maintaining strong cybersecurity. Even some of the largest companies have been hit hard by cyber attacks that they weren't prepared for. And so, in this article, we'll delve into IT risk assessment to help you understand what it is and how it can benefit your company.

What is an IT Risk Assessment?

An IT risk assessment is a way for organizations to protect their computers, software, and data from cyber attacks that could happen. First, the security team determines what could go wrong, like hackers getting in or software not working right. 

Then, they think about the likelihood of these attacks happening and the severity of damage they could cause. Finally, they assess what they are already doing to protect themselves to figure out if it is good enough or if more measures need to be implemented. 

The goal is to ensure that the organization understands the risks it faces and can make smart choices to keep it safe. With approximately 4.2 billion customer records compromised, nowadays, it is crucial to know if your IT is secure or whether your business is about to add to this number. 

Download our eBook Meeting the IT Security Challenge and gain insider advice on setting up proper IT security and compliance testing for your business.

The Importance of Risk Assessment in IT

Assessing IT risks can help your security team identify potential threats that can harm their computer systems. By understanding these risks, you can decide which security measures are most important to protect your data, use resources wisely, and prevent problems before they happen. 

Risk assessments also help you follow legal rules, keep sensitive information safe, and ensure that your stakeholders trust you. For a company's reputation and financial success, IT risk assessments bear the greatest weight. 

User Performing an IT Risk Assessment

Key Components of IT Risk Assessment

Consider the following key components when conducting an IT risk assessment:

  • Threat – Your security team identifies potential threats to the organization's IT systems and data.
  • Vulnerabilities – Cyber attackers like to exploit gaps and weaknesses in systems, so you must assess vulnerabilities. If identified, take immediate action to mitigate the problem.
  • Impacts – This involves evaluating the potential effects of identified threats. For example, you could lose money, have your private information stolen, damage your reputation, get fined by regulators, or have trouble keeping the business running smoothly.
  • Probability – Figuring out how often and how likely certain dangers might happen by taking advantage of weaknesses. This helps you decide which risks are more important to focus on based on how bad they could be.

When you consider these key components, your business gains a comprehensive understanding of its risk exposure. This helps you develop strategies to mitigate identified risks proactively.

Types of IT Risk Assessment

There are many approaches you can take when conducting an IT risk assessment, but the main ones are as follows:

Qualitative Risk Assessment

Qualitative risk assessment means evaluating risks based on their characteristics, not just numbers. Experts use their knowledge and experience to decide how likely and how bad a risk could be. 

For instance, if a cybersecurity expert thinks that a certain weakness could lead to a big data breach and cause harm to customers' sensitive information, they will call it a "high risk." On the other hand, if they believe that a threat is not very harmful and can be controlled with the current security measures, they might consider it a "low risk."

Quantitative Risk Assessment

Quantitative risk assessment is a way to measure risks using numbers and math. It helps to calculate the chances of something bad happening, how much damage it could cause, and how vulnerable you are to it. 

For example, a company might use run numbers to estimate how much money it could lose if its computers were hacked. Knowing the amount of damage it could cause helps to decide which risks to focus on first and how to spend time and money wisely.

What are the Steps to Perform an IT Risk Assessment?

Performing an IT risk assessment ensures the security and protection of assets in an organization. 

Each IT risk assessment we’ve performed is unique, but there are some overlaps we’ve identified. The steps may vary, but here is what a typical assessment may look like: 

1. Define the Scope and Assets

The first step is to define the scope of the assessment and the assets that need to be protected. This involves identifying the critical systems, applications, and data that are essential to the organization's operations.

2. Identify the Threats

Once the scope and assets have been defined, we identify the potential threats that can harm your assets, such as cyber-attacks, natural disasters, and human error.

3. Assess the Vulnerabilities

Vulnerabilities are the weaknesses that can lead to potential attacks and breaches. By checking security controls and systems for any gaps that can be exploited, we’ll unveil your vulnerabilities. 

4. Assess the Probability

Not all threats and vulnerabilities can be exploited, but just to be sure, you must assess their likelihood of occurring once identified. You can do this by posing as attackers and trying to exploit the gaps. Some companies go to the extent of paying outsiders to try and hack into their systems just to ensure nothing is left to chance. 

5. Assess the Impact

If cybercriminals get through your defenses, you must prepare for the impact. Depending on the attackers’ intentions, cyber threats can affect your company in different ways. Preparing for impact can help get you back on your feet faster.

6. Determine the Risk Level

After assessing the probability and impact, you must determine the risk level of each threat. This involves prioritizing the risks and identifying which ones require immediate attention. The sooner you can sort the critical ones, the better.

7. Develop and Implement a Risk Management Plan

Once you have identified the possible risks, the next step is to create a plan to manage and minimize them. This plan involves choosing the best strategies to reduce the risks and putting them into action.

8. Monitor Effectiveness Over Time

Once you have planned and implemented your cyber security strategies, continue monitoring your systems to ensure that everything works as intended. Monitoring also enables the IT team to identify any issues promptly and respond to them as soon as possible.

User Holding a 3D View of an IT Risk Assessment Dashboard

IT Risk Assessment Best Practices

You can never be too careful when it comes to cybersecurity. One mistake and your company could go down, losing everything you worked for. To fortify your systems, here are some of the best IT risk assessment practices that have helped businesses keep off breaches:

Maintain Detailed Documentation of the Risk Assessment 

It's a great idea to have a recording system in place for your IT risk assessments. This can help ease follow-up and ensure that you have a clear record of any issues that arise. It's not uncommon for issues to recur, so having a system in place can make it easier to address these problems quickly and effectively.

Conduct Regular Vulnerability and Penetration Tests

Penetration testing involves simulating cyber attacks to identify vulnerabilities in systems, networks, and applications before malicious hackers can exploit them. This reduces the risk of data breaches and cyber-attacks. Consider leveraging penetration testing services offered by reputable providers to enhance your defenses.

Adopt Industry Frameworks and Standards

Align your IT risk assessment practices with established industry frameworks and standards, such as NIST Cybersecurity Framework and CIS Controls. These ensure that your organization adheres to recognized industry standards and enhances its overall cybersecurity posture.

Regularly Update and Review Risk Assessments

Technology and security risks change quickly, so it's important to regularly check and update your risk assessments to make sure your security strategies are working well. When you are aware of new threats and make changes to your security measures, you put your organization in a better position to protect itself from potential threats.

Partner with CrucialLogics to Harness your IT 

With cybercrimes on the rise every day, you can’t afford to lower your guard when it comes to cyber security. 

We offer a range of security assessment services, including Cloud Security Vulnerability Assessments, designed to evaluate your security posture thoroughly. Using Critical Security Controls (CIS) version 8, these assessments provide a comprehensive understanding of your environment's configuration, security baselines, and other critical features.

One of our clients, the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM), can attest that we can deliver as promised. Together, we built an IT foundation for future growth by aligning CCRM's digital transformation strategy with its goals. We also optimized CCRM’s IT infrastructure and security posture, facilitating budget reductions, streamlined processes, and sustainable growth.

Don't wait until it's too late. Secure your future now. Contact us today to get started!

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