Learn all you need about security risk assessment- the all-encompassing security risk analysis and control that will protect your company's assets against unauthorized users
A security risk assessment (SRA) is a scrutinization process done to screen out any underlying flaw in the security of a company, facility, technology, or establishment that exposes its data, information, and assets to threats. This assessment also prioritizes each security problem identified according to how much of a threat it poses and finds a solution to fix the issues that might cause a breach to the firewall, process, or system involved. The main goal of a security risk assessment is to protect against malicious attempts, security threats, unauthorized users, and ransomware.
SRA is an imperative procedure done continuously to monitor updates of risks and threats that an organization's security system is most likely to face. A security risk assessment is more like a safety inspection for security systems. It is one of the most important measures to protect assets, including lives, properties, data, and information. It goes by many names, including security risk analysis, risk assessment, security audit, and IT infrastructure risk assessment, depending on where it's used. A security risk assessment or SRA is a mandatory practice demanded by many safety & security compliance regulations, including the following:
A security risk analysis is performed by a 'security assessor' or 'security officer' or assesses your company's security system and identifies all areas of faults and vulnerabilities exposing your assets to possible breaching. A security assessor mostly does this by looking at your security system from an attacker's perspective while identifying weak spots such as a weak password, an outdated virus detection system, insecure business processes, weak security guards, and the like. SRA also involves analyzing a company's security controls and HR policies to find out if it is tight enough to ward off external malicious attempts.
1. Why you need a security risk assessment
2. How to carry out a security risk assessment
3. Common mistakes to avoid during a security risk assessment
4. How often a security risk assessment should be performed
The importance of a security risk assessment cannot be overemphasized so long as a company, organization, firm, or business process is concerned. It is one of the most fundamental steps an organization must take to ensure the safety, security, and success of whatever they have going on. With the rise in technological advancements and digital tendencies, many technically skilled thieves, cybercriminals, and mischievous individuals aren't backing down from their malicious acts. As the world advances, we must pay attention to the regular upgrade of existing security and cyber-security systems.
Because of the possibility that the security control or system you have in place right now may be breached, security assessors need to perform a security risk assessment regularly. Successful security attacks can put an organization's financial state and reputation in harm's way. Even worse, lives and properties can be lost from inadequate security controls like the omission of fire safety risk assessment in industrial plants. Asides from avoiding consequential losses and devastating breakdowns in business systems, you need to perform a security risk analysis to
The processes involved in carrying out a security risk analysis can vary depending on the organization or business type and the assessment's purpose. However, there are some basic steps that you can practice for a typical security risk analysis. These steps are follows:
For an effective security risk analysis, the most important thing is to ensure you have a full grasp and understanding of your organization's assets- recognizing the most vulnerable ones and mapping them out. By assets, it doesn't just include only hardware but also processes, applications, users, data, e.t.c. All these make up your attack surface- the side of your organization that can be possibly breached.
While spotting your company's infrastructure and data, you need to make sure that you identify each data or asset according to how accessible they are. The categories include personal, public, internal use only, compliance restricted, and intellectual property data. Carefully mapping out your company's data or assets will enable you to identify where further assessment needs to be done, what asset's security you should be concerned about, and the ones you don't need to worry about.
Generally, building your asset inventory or identifying and mapping out your company's assets enables you to have an idea of all potentially vulnerable assets and data that needs further analysis.
After mapping out the assets and data with potential vulnerabilities, you need to determine how vulnerable each asset and(or) data is. Alongside this, you'll need to identify the threats that your security on each asset faces. For instance, say you have a database containing your employees' personal and private information, and sensitive data, stored on your company's server with a manageable level of server security. Because of the limitations in the level of security, an SRA officer would prioritize the top security of sensitive information like that, which can be forcefully accessed, stolen, or re-written for malicious reasons.
Luckily, there are various test and assessment tools that you can use in this process to help you determine vulnerabilities and identify security gaps. The method of identifying security gaps typically involves comparing the current level of your security readiness with established standards like PCI DSS, SOC II, and the like. An example of a test tool you can use to assess your security system is the penetration test. Pen-test, as it is colloquially called, is a simulated cyber-attack directed at a security system to test its resistibility.
This practice helps you identify more underlying vulnerabilities you missed and perform a security gap analysis to identify the areas to fix in your security framework. In a nutshell, the second step in SRA involves outlining the vulnerabilities and threats associated with your asset's security level.
After identifying all vulnerabilities, and outlining the potential risks in your security system, prioritize them in order of severity and importance. This is very important because it guides how your remediation plan will look and, most importantly, determines the effectiveness of the assessment.
Imagine gathering all your security problems together and solving the minor ones first rather than the severe ones. That would open your security system to a greater danger that might devastatingly affect your organization.
To treat the issues that would damage the organization faster, all you need to do is a risk rating on each potential threat and vulnerability. This analyses each threat while prioritizing the issues with more risk of loss or breach.
The existence of flaws in your security system means that you possess vulnerable security control measures or insufficient security controls to help you mitigate security risks. To remediate this occurrence, you will have to develop, install, or implement new security control measures to compensate for your limitations.
An example of a security control measure that can be taken is physical security assessments, where security officers install measures that monitor and control physical access to assets and information. Security officers can use a physical security assessment checklist as a guide when implementing measures to control physical access to corporate assets.
We also have other security control measures that detect threats and prevent the existence of flaws in a security system. Examples are technical control measures that deal with software tools,cyber security, anti-virus programs, e.t.c, and administrative security controls that deal with HR policies, security practices, and workflows.
You can create a detailed vulnerability remediation plan to tackle all weak spots in your security framework. While implementing remedial measures, you can also perform proactive risk responses like Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solution and Managed Detection and Responses (MDR) solution. The security control measures you take as an organization will depend on the type of security system you have in place, whether;
After implementing various security risk management techniques and controls, you need to measure the effectiveness of your remediation plan so far. While doing so, it's important to take notes of areas still lacking and control measures that didn't turn out as effectively as expected. Doing this will enable you to optimize and re-modify your measures, protocols, and processes to serve you better.
Don't forget that general risk assessment is an action that needs to be done from time to time. Therefore, after a successful SRA, take some time to evaluate its results, then repeat the process whenever needed or periodically for more efficiency.
We're talking about security risks, one of the most mutilating factors capable of defacing an organization and disfiguring operations. It's no wonder so much attention is paid to its authenticity and strength in establishing various security protocols for all business operations and transactions. Conducting a security risk analysis or assessment is a sensitive operation and shouldn't be done with levity. At least avoid the following during a security risk assessment:
The amount of times a security risk analysis should be performed is determined by the category of security system and type of organization involved. While a facility security assessment is performed periodically to ensure the safety of assets, machines, workers, data, and the environment, some systems might require it once in two or more years. However, generally, an SRA should be conducted at least annually.
Events that might call for the re-assessment of a security control system are changes in regulation relating to your business, merging with third-party corporations, changes in your network system or security framework, e.t.c.
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