Cybersecurity Risk Management: 4 Straightforward Steps to Get Started

Richard Stevenson, Manager of Cybersecurity Risk Management and Compliance
September 9, 2022

Illustration of a phishing email.

Cyber incidents topped the Allianz Risk Barometer for just the second time in the survey’s history in 2022. As the number of threats grows, so do the concerns that companies have and unfortunately, many of them have experienced the very real consequences of not managing these risks well. 

The good news is, with the right knowledge and processes, you can mitigate the negative impacts of any potential threats.

To help you implement a robust risk management plan, this guide provides an overview of cybersecurity risk management including what it is, why you need it, how to make it work for your organization. 

What is Cybersecurity Risk Management?

Cybersecurity risk management is the process of handling cybersecurity risks including identifying, analyzing, evaluating, and addressing. It’s a vital part of running any organization, but it can be an uphill battle to get right. It’s not easy to keep up with new threats that arise and it’s even more challenging to keep everyone in an organization educated and proactive on security threats.

What is a Cybersecurity Risk Management Plan?

A cybersecurity risk management plan is documentation that helps you to identify and prioritize your organization’s cybersecurity risks, evaluate them, and respond to them. All in an effort to keep your data secure and ensure that everyone on your team sticks to the best practices that you establish. 

Having this plan will help you prioritize your efforts so that those with the greatest possible impact are addressed first. It will also make sure you don’t overlook anything important along the way and creates consistency in how you handle risks. 

Why Do Organizations Need a Cybersecurity Risk Management Plan?

Identifying and managing cybersecurity risks can be tricky, and the threat landscape is evolving all the time. This means companies need effective cybersecurity measures against all kinds of threats ranging from hackers trying to break into their networks, to viruses attached to emails.

If you don’t have an effective risk management plan, you won’t know where your gaps are or be able to respond to them when problems arise.

4 Steps to Put Your Plan Together

Not sure how to create and implement a cybersecurity plan? You can break down the process into simple steps to help you put it all together. Here’s what we recommend.

1. Identify Your Cybersecurity Risks

Identify the risks associated with your business. You can ask yourself these questions to help you through this process:

What are my organization’s assets?

Your assets are anything that has value to your business. This includes intellectual property, customer data, financial records, and anything that would make it difficult for your company to function if it were lost or stolen.

If there were any way someone could compromise these assets, how would they do it? 

Look at how different parties in your organization gain authorization to information, as well as what devices and processes they use to access it. 

What information is sensitive?

Some types information may be more valuable than others—like credit card numbers or social security numbers. Other information may not be as valuable but still needs protection because it could be used as leverage in a future attack (such as information about the operating systems being used).

What technology do you use?

The technology you use will determine how vulnerable your organization is to certain types of attacks. You may also need to take additional steps to keep information secure if you are using legacy or outdated systems.

Also, review any recent security issues that came up for your organization. You’ll want to ensure that any measures you put in place to resolve them are working as intended.

2. Analyze Cybersecurity Risks

Next, it’s time to look at what you uncover during the first step and get more details on the risks you face. There are two components that are critical at this stage.

The first is prioritizing risks. This involves examining the threats and vulnerabilities associated with a system, and determining which poses the most risk to your organization. At this stage, you need to figure out what risks to deal with first.

The second is identifying and assessing the impact of potential risks. Once you figure out what risks you’re focusing on, you need to work to understand the likelihood that a risk will occur and impact it would have if those risks become a real threat. This will empower you to create better processes. 

3. Treat Cybersecurity Risks

You can take steps to reduce the likelihood of a successful cyberattack, and you can recover from an attack if it happens. First, think about what you can do to prevent security issues.

For example, to treat the risk of unauthorized access to an account, you might choose to use two-factor authentication (2FA) every time you log in to your system so that attackers cannot access your account even if they steal your password. If someone gains access without permission, 2FA will stop them from going any further.

Then, consider the processes you can put in place to respond to any threats you may need to contend with. Can you improve any measures you may have in place to notify you of a breach and improve response time? Can you put a process in place to stop any unauthorized users in their tracks? Consider all options.

4. Monitor and Update Your Risk Management Plan

As a cybersecurity risk management plan rolls out, it will need updates and revisions. It’s important that you monitor the way your organization uses the plan, as well as how effective it is at addressing potential threats. The following are some steps you should take to ensure that your plan stays up-to-date:

  • Check that all processes and procedures listed in the risk management plan are being used properly by employees.
  • Consider gaps in coverage that may be introduced by new business practices or technology changes.
  • Ensure that your processes will address any new threats that may have come into play after the initial plan.

Remember, as you make updates, you need to ensure that all employees in your organization are aware of them. A cybersecurity risk management plan can be good, but it will only be effective if people are following it. 

Solid cybersecurity practices create a better business for employees, clients, and customers alike. But, you don’t have to struggle to put all the pieces into place. The Drata team can help. Find out how you can build trust with your customers and scale securely with Drata. Book your demo now.

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