What is Cybersecurity Risk Management?

Date: 18 May 2023

In the digital age, cyber security and cyber risk management have become paramount concerns for individuals, businesses, and governments alike. The rapid advancements in technology have brought about numerous opportunities, but they have also opened doors to unprecedented risks and vulnerabilities.

This is why Risk Management in Cyber Security has emerged as a very critical aspect of ensuring an overall strong cybersecurity posture. 

In this blog, our experts share insights on:

What is Risk Management in Cyber Security?  

Risk management is the process of identifying, assessing, treating and mitigating cybersecurity risks to an organisation's assets. It involves the identification of potential threats and risks, the evaluation of their likelihood and their potential impact on business operations. It also encompasses the implementation of security measures to minimise the identified risks to an acceptable level.

Ensuring effective cyber risk management is crucial in safeguarding sensitive data and protecting critical assets.

Through effectiveness of the controls implemented, Risk Management provides a robust defence against a wide array of threats. These include malware, phishing attacks, social engineering, and insider threats. Proper cyber risk management helps in maintaining the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data. It also contributes to the end-goal of ensuring business continuity, and building trust with customers and stakeholders.

Risk management allows the organisation to make informed decisions regarding the allocation of resources and the implementation of security controls. Essentially, it helps in prioritising risks. The organisation can then better align its cybersecurity endeavours with the identified risks. 

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Cyber Risk Management & Risk Assessment 

A Cyber Risk Assessment is a core component of Cyber Risk Management. The Risk Assessment helps identify the potential cybersecurity threats to the organisation. It then evaluates how the Cyber Risk Management Framework is being implemented. It also tests how well the framework is aligned to address the existing cybersecurity risks. 

The Risk based Assessment involves identifying critical assets and processes and adapting to the Cyber Risk Management Framework. Cybersecurity Specialists such as our Virtual Cyber Assistants can help you conduct a thorough Risk Assessment. They can also help you develop a Risk Management Methodology. 

Some of the key outputs that you get in a Risk Assessment include: 

  • Creation of an Information Assets Register. 
  • Help in developing a Risk Assessment Methodology. 
  • Creating a Risk treatment plan, listing the recommended controls for minimizing the risk.
  • Risk Monitoring and review of the Existing Risk Treatment Plan and Risk Monitoring Processes. 
  • Identifying threats and vulnerabilities of the critical assets.
  • Risk evaluation and documenting the existing controls.

All of the above can help you evaluate how far your existing Risk Management practices are viable. They can also show how much work the Security Teams still have to do to manage organisational risk better. 

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Cyber Risk Management Framework: How to implement it? 

Next comes Cyber Risk Management Framework and how it is beneficial to the organisational cyber posture. 

But first, let’s understand what a Cyber Risk Management Framework really is. The Cyber Risk Management Framework was first developed by the National Institute of Standards or NIST. It is essentially a template or a guideline that can help an organisation identify and mitigate cyber threats and risks.  

There are certain components in the NIST Information Security Risk Management Framework which every organisation can use to manage risk.

Here’s a brief look at them: 

  • Identification: This involves identifying potential risks and vulnerabilities across the organisation. This can be achieved by conducting risk assessments, audits and reviews, analysing historical data, and taking into account industry best practices.
  • Risk Assessment: Once risks are identified, they are assessed based on their likelihood and potential impact. This assessment helps prioritise risks, as we discussed above. Once the risks are assessed, a risk management strategy can be worked out to mitigate them.
  • Risk Mitigation: Risk mitigation involves implementing security controls and measures to reduce the likelihood or impact of identified risks. This can include technical controls, operational procedures, employee training, and cyber incident response plans.
  • Risk Monitoring: Continuous monitoring and review of risks is essential to ensure the effectiveness of risk mitigation measures. This includes regular assessments, audits, vulnerability scans, and penetration testing.
  • Communication: Effective communication is crucial in a Risk Management Framework. It involves sharing risk-related information with all the relevant stakeholders. This ensures everyone is aware of the potential risks and the mitigation strategies.
  • Documentation and Reporting: Documentation plays a significant role in a Risk Management Framework. It includes maintaining records of risk assessments, mitigation measures, incident reports, and other relevant information. Regular reporting keeps stakeholders informed about the organisation's risk profile and mitigation efforts.

These components are a general guideline on which an organisation can base their own flexible and contextual risk management strategy. 

The primary idea is to have a framework for identification of risks, prioritising them and implementing security controls. Continuously monitoring the ability of the controls to mitigate risks is equally important.  

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The undeniable truth today is that organisations face constant threats from cybercriminals. These criminals seek to exploit vulnerabilities in networks, software, and human behaviour. A single successful cyber attack can have severe consequences, ranging from financial losses and reputational damage to legal and regulatory repercussions. 

Therefore, proactive measures and a comprehensive understanding of cyber security and risk management are essential to mitigate these threats.

For organisations that are focussed on improving their overall cybersecurity posture, it is imperative that they start looking seriously at Risk Management. Assessing current levels of risk and putting a risk mitigation strategy in place are some of the fundamental steps to start with. They can go a long way in reducing the threats to your business and controlling damage to critical assets if and when an attack does occur. 

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