Whatever industry you work in or however large your business is, one thing is true: every company with a desire to stay competitive and relevant needs a cybersecurity risk management plan.

New information technology comes online quickly, making business transactions and processes more manageable, smoother, and faster – but a high level of interconnectivity brings along an increased risk of cyber attacks and data breaches. Cybercriminals pounce on each new platform, and the threat landscape constantly changes.

A solid cybersecurity risk assessment program is as flexible and responsive as the changing risk landscape, so you are always ready no matter which cybersecurity incident pops up. Let’s look at how you develop a successful cybersecurity risk management plan.

A Cyber Risk or a Cyber Threat: Isn’t It All the Same?

Not quite. A cyber threat is an attack on your computer or vendor’s computer system. The threat landscape changes daily, and an essential part of your risk management strategy is to stay aware of new threats and the potential harm an attack could have on your business.

Cybersecurity risk, in contrast, is the worst-case harm a successful cyber attack (such as data breach or a phishing attack) would have on your business; combined with the likelihood of such an attack.

What are the Benefits of Risk Management in Cybersecurity?

A robust cyber security risk management program allows businesses to assess their security posture and identify areas for improvement. With technology increasingly crucial in today’s workplace, every organization must minimize the disruption caused by attacks.

Keeping up with the best practices for cyber risk management and the newest cybersecurity challenges allows organizations to be active and avoid becoming the next victim of cybercrime. Here are some benefits that a cybersecurity risk management program can bring.

Safeguard Business Reputation

A significant data breach can devastate your company’s brand, making it tough to rebuild consumers’ faith in you. After all, who would want to trust a business that couldn’t secure its data? A solid cybersecurity risk management program can assist you in prioritizing essential risks and remaining one step ahead of these threats. You can continue to create and maintain trust with your consumers this way.

Boost IT Support

When you have a comprehensive risk management strategy, your IT team will not lurch from one crisis to another since there will be enough workers and resources to keep all projects on track. That allows teams to address cyber concerns more efficiently and improves your company’s bottom line.

Prevent Revenue Loss

Data breaches can harm every aspect of your business. The most significant visible consequence, however, is financial. Studies peg the global average data breach cost at $3.86 million, and recovery from the original assault might take years. Moreover, corporations in charge of someone else’s data are subject to data privacy rules. As a result, businesses that have violated the law may be held accountable and face substantial fines or penalties.

Reduce Downtime

Downtimes are excruciating. Whether it’s ransomware, DDoS assaults, or phishing schemes, any attack can cause hours of disruption for your organization. Downtime following an attack can impair client access to vital services and leave staff unable to be productive. Delays in one area of a company can also cause issues in another, such as workflow backup, productivity loss, and a lack of internal and external communication.

On the other hand, a risk management strategy may help you better prepare for any cyber attack, limit downtime risks, and reduce the related high costs.

Increase Employee Engagement and Education

Employees can also benefit from a risk management plan, in addition to shareholders and consumers. For example, employee information is vulnerable to a breach since it includes Social Security numbers, credit card information, birth dates, phone numbers, and other personal information. Organizations with an effective risk management plan can assure employees that their data is always protected from improper access. This results in more engaged employees, which then results in improved business efficiency.

What Is a Cyber Security Risk Management Plan?

Cybersecurity risk management is a strategic approach to prioritizing threats. Organizations use cyber risk management processes to assure that the most severe threats are dealt with quickly.

Before developing a risk management plan, you need to define the level of risk with which you are comfortable. In cybersecurity, this begins by evaluating how your IT systems are connected to third-party vendors, and which contractors have access to your critical infrastructure. Then look at your security controls to protect sensitive data and proprietary information, even amid that complicated IT environment.

You don’t have to start from scratch to develop a methodology that will help you find the weak spots in your IT systems. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is an excellent source for frameworks that can help you develop a cyber risk assessment and create a risk management plan.

Here are five common steps that are part of a cybersecurity risk assessment:

  • Identify the risk areas: weak firewalls, outdated access controls, lack of staff education surrounding malware, phishing, hacking, and other common cybersecurity threats. Assure that you identify your most valuable data assets, such as proprietary information and software.
  • Identify possible damages: how would each of the identified risk areas affect your business processes, and what is the cost of remediation? (This includes possible reporting requirements that may have to be fulfilled for your business to stay in industry compliance.)
  • Assess which risk would be the most costly if it comes to pass: careful risk analysis lets you rank the identified risks. Don’t forget the cost of remediation and the cost of having to shut or slow down part of your business processes while you recover.
  • Create a record of which information security risk areas you find, and create security teams who can take the lead on implementing security policies for each risk you identify.
  • Review the cybersecurity risk assessment and identify how it fits your common risk management framework. Make sure you have support from all the stakeholders in your company, and build a risk-aware workforce. A staff trained to report any cybersecurity risk is an invaluable part of any risk assessment process.

How do you Create a Cybersecurity Risk Management Program?

Once you have done your cybersecurity risk assessment, it’s time to implement some of your findings and turn them into a cybersecurity risk management program.

Assemble a security team and make sure the team communicates clearly with all the cybersecurity risk management program stakeholders. The security team will be responsible for taking all your research and turning it into an easily understandable risk profile of your company before communicating it to all the internal stakeholders.

The security team will also take the lead in educating staff on network security and updating everyone on the latest cybersecurity risks, such as new ransomware, new social engineering schemes, and other threats that may fit your risk profile.

The team is also responsible for establishing and updating a risk mitigation plan that determines how you will respond to a security incident or potential threats.

What are the Components of a Risk Management Plan?

Risk management must be systematic, organized, collaborative, and cross-organizational to be effective. There are numerous cybersecurity frameworks used to describe the core aspects of a successful risk management process. Still, at the very least, it should include the components listed below.

Risk Identification

Risk identification is the process of identifying prospective business hazards and classifying the dangers the business encounters. Identify all potential risks methodically, since such discipline decreases the chance of overlooking potential threats.

When assessing risk, consider the company’s current risks and those that may develop in the future. The risk landscape changes as technology evolves and companies restructure.

Risk Analysis

After identifying risks, the next stage is to assess their likelihood and possible effect. For example, how vulnerable is the company to a particular risk? What is the likely cost of the risk should it happen? Based on the potential for disruption, an organization may categorize risks as “severe, moderate, or minor” or “high, medium, or low.”

The classification technique is less important than the understanding that some risks are more urgent threats than others. Businesses use risk analysis to prioritize mitigation. For example, one risk might theoretically pose great harm, but also have a low chance of actually happening. If a risk has a high cost and a high chance of happening, that should go to the top of the remediation list; other risks can come later.

Response Planning

An Incident Response Plan addresses the question, “What are we going to do about it?” For example, suppose you discovered during identification and analysis that the company is vulnerable to phishing attempts because the staff is unaware of email security standards. In that case, your response plan may include security awareness training.

Risk Mitigation

Risk mitigation is the action (or set of actions) your company takes to lower risk exposure. For example, you might introduce new security training for employees or adopt multi-factor authentication to access confidential systems. The organization must create safeguards that bring the risk to acceptable levels. It is necessary to evaluate these controls to assure they are appropriately constructed and functional.

Risk Monitoring

Risks evolve over time. What was once considered a minor risk might become a severe danger to the company, or vice-versa. Understanding your current risk profile through routine risk assessments is the process of risk monitoring.

Cybersecurity Risk Management is Made Easy with ZenRisk

At Reciprocity, a team of cybersecurity professionals is always looking out for you and your assets, ensuring you get the best and most up-to-date cybersecurity risk management tools.

ZenRisk works with governance, risk management, and ever-changing compliance demands to keep your business safe and secure, freeing up time to do what you do best: run your business.

The ZenRisk compliance, risk, and cybersecurity management software is an intuitive, easy-to-understand platform that quickly identifies areas of high risk before that risk has manifested as a real threat or an actual data breach.

Worry-free cybersecurity risk management is the Zen way. Contact us for a demo for more information on how ZenRisk can help your organization.