A risk assessment is a critical component of any organization’s infrastructure as they help to create an awareness of risk. In today’s threat landscape, specifically relating to cybersecurity, it’s more important than ever to know where your assets live, fully understand the controls in place to protect those assets, and to test the efficiency of those controls. When trying to understand why it is important to complete a risk assessment, you first must understand how a risk assessment can save your business. Let’s take a look at what a risk assessment is, benefits of a risk assessment, and the steps you should take to complete a risk assessment.
What is a Risk Assessment?
According to NIST SP 800-53, a highly-regarded industry standard, a risk assessment is fundamental to any organizational risk management program and is a methodology used to identify, assess, and prioritize organizational risk. Most information security frameworks require a formally documented, annual risk assessment. Without a risk assessment, organization can be left unaware of where their critical assets live and what the risks to those assets are.
What are Benefits of a Risk Assessment?
First and foremost, it is important to complete a risk assessment because it is mandated by most information security frameworks. By regularly performing a formal risk assessment, you can get a clear picture of where your assets lie and what potential threats might exist. From there, you can assess the likelihood and impact of those threats from actually happening and give yourself an opportunity to evaluate your current security controls to determine if what you’re doing will be an effective defense mechanism against a malicious attack. Another way a risk assessment can save your business is by being proactive rather than reactive. If you have the opportunity to anticipate a potential security incident and address the potential adverse impacts, chances are you will be successful and save your business from any operational and reputational loss.
How to Perform a Risk Assessment
The purpose of a risk assessment is to identify risks, analyze vulnerabilities, and assess risk likelihood. The risk assessment process must be a continuous process for any organization. So where do you begin? The five steps to a risk assessment are as follows:
- Conduct Risk Assessment Survey
- Identify Risks
- Assess Risk Importance and Risk Likelihood
- Create a Risk Management Action Plan
- Implement a Risk Management Plan.
For more details on how to complete a formally documented risk assessment, and to learn more about how a risk assessment can save your business, download our free Risk Assessment Guide.