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The 5 Best Cybersecurity Risk Assessment Tools

Paul Hager
07/14/2021
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Your company is threatened by cybercriminals. That is just a fact of modern life. But how much of a risk do you face? Can you minimize the risks you face?

Cybersecurity risk assessments help organizations understand, control, and mitigate all forms of cyber risk. It is a critical component of risk management strategy and data protection. As organizations rely more and more on connected systems to do business, the digital risk landscape expands, exposing you to new vulnerabilities.

Here are the five best tools and strategies we recommend all organizations embrace to minimize your cybersecurity risks.

1. NIST Framework

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) is a process in which defenders continually monitor, assess and react to the threat environment and intelligently respond to threats and keep data secured with well-established best practices. 

According to Gartner, the NIST-CSF is used by approximately 50% of U.S. organizations. Elevity has adopted the NIST framework, which is a set of activities, outcomes and references that provide detailed guidance for developing individual organizational profiles for cybersecurity. (You can download our free NIST eBook here.)

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework provides a set of guidelines, based on existing standards and practices for organizations to use to better manage and reduce cybersecurity risk. In addition to helping organizations identify and respond to cyber threats, the NIST framework works to improve cyber risk management communication between internal and external stakeholders. The framework is divided into five functions, each related to different aspects of risk management.

  • Identify
  • Protect
  • Detect
  • Respond
  • Recover

From there, each function is divided into categories which provide guidance based on the outcomes of different risk management procedures. This level of detail helps organizations ensure that they are properly managing cyber risk while also enhancing their ability to identify threats.

2. Network Security Assessment

A network security assessment is basically an audit. It’s a review of your network’s security measures which is meant to find vulnerabilities in your system. Such a risk assessment starts by taking stock of any assets that might be compromised by a bad actor, understanding how those assets might be compromised, and then prescribing the steps that should be taken to protect those assets.

There are two kinds of network security assessments: a vulnerability assessment, which shows organizations where their weaknesses are, and a penetration test, which mimics an actual attack. The purpose of a network security assessment is to keep your networks, devices and data safe and secure by discovering any potential entry points for cyber-attacks — from both inside and outside your organization. It’s also a way of running through possible attacks.

These tests can measure the effectiveness of your network’s defenses and measure the potential impact of an attack on specific assets. What happens if certain systems are breached? What data is exposed? How many records are likely to be compromised? What would have to be done to mitigate that attack? A security assessment serves as a dry run, should your network ever be breached.

3. Automated questionnaires

A key component of cyber risk assessments is the questionnaires you use to evaluate your third-party risk. Creating and sending questionnaires is a resource-intensive task and validating responses can be difficult. Using an automated questionnaire platform helps address these challenges by creating vendor-specific questionnaires that can be sent and tracked at scale. This creates transparency between you and your vendors as you can track their responses to questions in real-time, streamlining questionnaire management.

4. Staff Assessments

As employees increasingly work remote, they may use their personal devices for work, share their work devices with non-employees, use unsecured Wi-Fi networks, or fall prey to phishing emails. Also, your information system can be put at risk through poor document retention, the use of un-encrypted USB flash drives, or the use of unsecured channels to transmit critical information. In essence, information security protection measures are not there, leaving your network vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Testing an employee’s cybersecurity awareness and responses is important, whether they are in the office or remote. This can be done using a phishing simulator, which allows you to set up emails like those from management, IT team, or colleagues with the goal of convincing employees to open a link, submit credentials or download an attachment. The information you get can be used to train employees on cybersecurity best practices and tips to avoid cyber-attacks.

5. Third-party risk assessment

Unfortunately, hackers are targeting third-party partners in order to launch data breach efforts. If your organization can conduct a vulnerability assessment, take inventory and analyze your existing security controls to identify vulnerabilities within your IT infrastructure.

Using the assessment report, use that data from an independent vulnerability assessment to evaluate vendor performance, which can help bolster third-party business relationships, as well as help you to ending the use of any technology, services or partnerships that many open your company to a hack.

As cyber threats continue to grow in complexity, having access to cyber risk assessment tools has become a necessity. Talk to the cybersecurity experts at Elevity about our risk management solutions so you can proactively manage risks as they arise.

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