Identify potential threats before they become an issue.
Risk assessments are designed to provide a clear indication of those organizational information assets that are at risk for a security breach. This allows for the informed, intelligent application of cybersecurity resources that are appropriate to secure those assets. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) framework — which was created through collaboration between industry and government — consists of standards, guidelines, and practices to promote the protection of critical infrastructure. The NIST cybersecurity framework states that the goal of a risk assessment is for an organization to understand the cybersecurity risk to organizational assets, individuals and organizational operations, including mission, functions, image, or reputation.
A risk assessment will identify information assets that could be affected by a cyber-attack, such as hardware, systems, laptops, customer data and intellectual property, and then report the various risks that could affect those assets. Third parties, suppliers, contractors and a mobile connected workforce also fall within the scope of a risk assessment.
The Six Steps to Conduct a Risk Assessment
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) created the NIST Cybersecurity Framework Risk Assessment category that outlines the following steps:
- Asset vulnerabilities are identified and documented.
- Threat and vulnerability information is received from informed sources.
- Threats, both internal and external, are identified and documented.
- Potential business impacts and likelihoods are identified.
- Threats, vulnerabilities, likelihoods, and impacts are used to determine risk.
- Risk responses are identified and prioritized.
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