Risk Assessment and Security
For years, networks have been at risk from malicious action and inadvertent user errors. As reliance on computer systems and electronic data grows, and as computers become even more interconnected and interdependent, organizations are becoming more susceptible to cyber threats.
Mitigating Information Security Risks
All of these factors are making the need to manage security risks more critical than ever and, at the same time, a continuing challenge. Many organizations struggle to find efficient ways to ensure that they fully understand the real and potential security risks affecting their operations and adopt appropriate controls to mitigate these risks.
A key step toward developing and managing an effective security program involves identifying and ranking the information security risks to operations and determining the appropriate course of action to mitigate them.
What is a Data Breach Risk Assessment?
The goal of a data breach risk assessment is to understand the existing system and environment, identifying risks through analysis of the information collected to determine how best to mitigate those risks and effectively preserve the organization’s mission.
Although risk assessment can vary significantly in terms of method, rigor and scope, the outcome of the assessment is to provide decision-makers with the information they need to understand factors that can negatively affect operations and outcomes and make informed decisions about the actions needed to reduce risk.
Risk-assessment programs ensure that:
- Current and evolving network threats are recognized and thwarted.
- Employees are aware of and follow best practices to mitigate potential security threats, such as revealing passwords and opening suspicious email attachments.
- Organizations have peace of mind, knowing that their systems and environment are protected against cyberattacks.
Elements of Risk Assessment
Risk assessments typically involve the following to include assets, threats and vulnerabilities. However, project scope, budget and other limitations also affect various levels.
- Comparing current levels of security to assets, threats, and vulnerabilities that can harm operations, including their impacts and likelihood
- Mapping threats to assets and vulnerabilities
- Acknowledging and ranking the value and level of severity of operations and assets that are potentially affected by such threats
- Projecting the possible losses that can take place should a threat occur, as well as the recovery costs from the lasting damage
- Identifying actions to mitigate or reduce risk
- Assessing whether the current infrastructure (such as firewalls, servers, and Internet connections to the outside world) are not open to cyberattacks
- Recording the results and developing an action plan with recommendations for addressing vulnerabilities, patching holes, and raising confidence levels
Why Risk Assessment Can Be Difficult
Data is affected by risk factors, including how likely it is that a complicated cyberattack might occur, and the costs of damage, loss or changes of any kind associated with exposed security weakness.
However, the combination of an ever-changing threat landscape, increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks, and the practical reality that company data is distributed throughout the organization and not located in one central location make the task of identifying risks to company data more challenging, more time-consuming, and involve more people than evaluating other sorts of company risks.
Even if precise information was available, it would soon be obsolete due to fast-paced changes in technology and the evolving nature of tools available to would-be intruders.
The lack of reliable and current data often prevents precise determinations about which information security risks are the most significant and deterrents are the most cost-effective.
Determining Which Risks Require Your Attention
Risk is an undeniable part of our daily lives. For instance, there is risk simply walking around your house: you could burn yourself in the kitchen, trip over a rug, or bang your finger when shutting a door. While simplistic, these examples show the two elements that make up risk — probability and consequences. To put it another way, if a truck carrying dangerous chemicals slammed into your house, the consequences would be devastating; however, but the risk is low because the probability of such an accident occurring is very small.
Practically speaking, trying to address each and every risk, large and small, that your organization might face can be expensive, both in time and resources. A better, more cost-effective approach is to prioritize risks. The concepts of “impact assessment” and “likelihood assessment” provide a useful framework that helps you decide which risks need your attention.
One way to determine the potential harm that can be caused by a security hole is by conducting an impact assessment. An impact assessment takes into account quantifiable factors, such as impact to revenue, profits, regulations, reputation and service levels. Risk assessments also assess a company’s acceptable level of risk (that is, how much risk can be tolerated) before the assets affected by those risks become jeopardized.
A good rule-of-thumb to follow is that the more severe the consequences of a threat, the greater the risk. For example, if the price that company A wants to pay to acquire company B is compromised, the cost to company A would be the lost profits from the products made by company B along with the percentage likelihood of purchasing company B in the first place.
A likelihood assessment predicts the probability of a threat occurring. You can determine the chances of a risk occurring again.
For example, you might ask individuals to rate the likelihood of a specific risk as low, medium, or high. Once you receive their replies, you can assign values of 1, 2, and 3 to risks that are low, medium, and high, or to risks that are not likely, likely, or very likely to occur. You can then rank risks according to the weighted average of the responses, prioritize risks and their impact, and arrive at an overall estimated level of risk.
The Outcome of Risk Assessment
The ability of a risk assessment to reduce or remove security vulnerabilities depends on whether the assessment was complete and accurate. But the effort does not stop there. It is also crucial that changes from that assessment be incorporated into the workplace and that performing those changes does not introduce new risks or elevate risks that were previously ranked as lower priority to a higher priority.
Going forward, best practices recommend that you revisit your assessment at regular intervals (for example, every six months) to ensure that nothing has changed and that your security methods are effective.
Risk-assessment reviews can also be initiated when:
- A change occurs in the company’s processes or work flow
- Hardware and software are added, replaced or used at new locations or in new ways
- New employees are hired
- The company moves or expands to a new building or work area
- New information becomes available about cyber threats or security products that the company is using
Why MSP Risk Intelligence? Why Now?
Businesses often pay lip service to risk and security, but they often don't realize the urgency until they suffer a loss. If only there was some way for companies to see the devastating consequences that risk can cause without having to suffer its debilitating effects.
Well now there is!
MSP Risk Intelligence from SolarWinds MSP (formerly LOGICnow) is a dollar-based risk assessment application that empowers organizations of all shapes and sizes to see the cost of compromised data and take steps to protect those valuable assets.
By utilizing leading-edge technologies, including sensitive data discovery and deep vulnerability scanning, MSP Risk Intelligence can generate risk-trending reports and PCI compliance scans to root out sensitive data and potential vulnerabilities, regardless of where they reside within an organization. With this information, companies can take actionable steps to mitigate risk.
MSP Risk Intelligence also identifies vulnerabilities that can lead to data breaches. Regardless of where a business’ biggest risks originates — email, malicious web downloads, cyberattacks, or other sources — MSP Risk Intelligence will help you tighten your security everywhere you need it.
Layered Security from SolarWinds MSP
Risk assessment is valuable but is most effectively used as a full suite of solutions. The complete and comprehensive layered security solution from SolarWinds MSP keeps businesses safe, giving you the best proactive, detective, and reactive security.
Proactive security is more and more of a necessity. SolarWinds MSP provides web protection so users don't visit malicious websites, as well as Patch management for 40+ Microsoft and 80+ third-party application families. SolarWinds MSP also ensures mail security that stops incoming email threats, including malware attachments, phishing, ransomware and spam.
Detective security works hand-in-hand with proactive security to address potential threats immediately. SolarWinds MSP extends the best malware protection in the industry, failed login checks and rules to keep hackers at bay as well as active device discovery to identify unknown devices before they become threats.
Reactive security catches what proactive and detective security measures may miss. For a truly comprehensive security strategy, SolarWinds MSP makes it easy to quickly recovery systems to a safe location following a successful threat.
Our reactive security includes backup and disaster recovery within minutes, virtual server recovery after attacks on physical servers, local backup to restore information after failed Internet service, local speed vault to minimize data loss and hybrid cloud recovery for on- and off-site data storage and complete protection.
About SolarWinds MSP
SolarWinds MSP delivers the only 100% SaaS, fully cloud-based IT service management (ITSM) platform, backed by collective intelligence and the highest levels of layered security. SolarWinds MSP MAX products including Risk Intelligence, Remote Management, Backup & Disaster Recovery, Mail and Service Desk — comprise the market’s most widely trusted integrated solution.
Deployed on millions of endpoints across hundreds of thousands of networks, the platform has the industry vision to define and deliver the future of the market. SolarWinds MSP provides the most comprehensive IT security available as well as LOGICcards, the first ever IT notification feature powered by prescriptive analytics and machine learning.
Our passion is helping IT professionals secure and manage their systems and data through actionable insights, rewriting the rules of IT.
For more information, contact us.