HOW TO CONDUCT A CYBER RISK ASSESSMENT

There has been a marked and steady increase in cyber-attacks and cyber-criminals have a multitude of tools at their disposal to gain sensitive information. Business organizations, especially, face a greater risk. Managing risk is a critical task and the process starts with a risk assessment. If you don’t assess your risks, they cannot be properly managed, and your business is left exposed to threats. Cyberattacks do more damage than just financial loss. It could also damage a businesses reputation and involve a loss of performance which can all impact and even dissolve your business permanently. Read how data breaches continue to target the healthcare sector on our blog.

Conducting a risk assessment is a vital method to understand vulnerabilities, threats and consequences as well as their potential impact on your business.

Here are 4 steps on how to conduct a risk assessment:

1. Identify Threats

A threat is any vulnerability that could be exploited to breach security to cause harm or steal data from your organization. Hackers, malware, and other IT security risks are just a few threats. Some others are natural disasters, system failure, human error and adversarial threats (third party vendors, trusted insiders, established hacker collectives, etc). The most common threats that affect every organization are unauthorized access, misuse of information by authorized users, data leakage, loss of data and disruption of service.

2. Assess Risks 

The next step is evaluating the likelihood and consequences of each risk. Security professionals must be able to determine how often certain threats will occur. Conducting a risk assessment will help them and assess whether stronger security measures are required. This allows companies and executives to allocate a budget to hinder future cyber-attacks. It is vital to understand the nature of risks and their ability to affect daily operations. Incorporating appropriate controls and mitigation strategies can help in this feat. HackShield is a great and affordable way to address data liability within a secured environment to mitigate cyber risk by:

  • Instantly discovering sensitive data and applying transparent encryption
  • Assessing the level of liability on endpoints and stratify risk
  • Tracking and protecting selected data for anyone in the system
  • Shutting down access to protected data for terminated employees or discontinued third parties
  • Monitoring third-party downloading of protected health information (PHI) on any device
  • Writing rules as to who can have access to information
  • Preventing the transfer of data to non-authorized targets
  • Monitoring and auditing data movement at the endpoint to ensure compliance

3. Analyze Controls 

Several categories of information are needed to adequately assess your control environment. Some examples are organizational user provisioning controls, administration controls, risk management controls, etc. Read more about risk management processes on our blog. The control categories may be broadly defined as satisfactory, satisfactory with recommendations, needs improvement or inadequate. It is advised to use multiple layers of security as opposed to one for better security prospects. To mitigate cyber threats it is crucial to create a successful “culture of cybersecurity” that will be understood by the entire organization. This will result in fewer cyber-attacks and good cyber-hygiene.

4. Review Potential Risks

After the first three steps of identifying, assessing, and controlling necessary mitigation strategies, organizations must continuously be on the look-out for potential risks. If the controls prove to be ineffective, organizations should go back and re-evaluate their mitigation strategies. The growing number of sophisticated and targeted attacks put security professionals at a higher risk of attacks, which is why risk assessment should be a continuous process. The goal is to achieve fewer data breaches and reduced consequences following cyber attacks. ComplyShield can successfully help you incorporate risk mitigation techniques. It was designed to provide a unified platform for corporate healthcare compliance and risk management activities which automatically integrates with security and risk management and audit operations. It provides:

  • Simple activation of any compliance framework like HIPAA, HITECH, PCI DSS, ISO 27K, FISMA, SOX
  • Collaboration tools for all compliance activities
  • Dashboard and compliance status reports
  • Integration with SecurityShield apps to document compliance status related to IT security
  • Ready-to-use, built-in policies, procedures, and assessment templates
  • Complete audit trail to document all required activities

To know more about SureShield, follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter or email us at info@sure-shield.com for further updates.

4 STAGES OF A SUCCESSFUL VULNERABILITY MANAGEMENT PROGRAM

There are new vulnerabilities in the cyber world being discovered constantly. It seems like virtually every day, there is a story about an organization that is breached owing to vulnerabilities in its information technology systems. More disturbingly, news of the SolarWinds attack highlighted the sophistication of cyberattacks wherein a legitimate utility on the targeted system was modified, executed, and then replaced with the legitimate one. The integration of 5G and machine learning can further open the network to several serious cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Given this scenario, the obvious answer involves securing your networks and IT systems from potential attacks by eliminating threats.

Other than securing your networks, you also need to deal with breaches caused by known vulnerabilities. Sometimes, patches are available for weeks and months yet the vulnerability is left unaddressed. If an organization is aware that its network has vulnerabilities, why not patch them up immediately? The delay occurs because they encounter too many vulnerabilities and have little time to fix these issues. So what you need to be asking is, “How can you know which vulnerabilities to rectify first?”

The solution is by building a strong vulnerability management system.

Here are 4 stages to keep in mind when setting up a successful vulnerability management program.

1) Scanning of assets

The most important step involves recognizing your organization’s Operational Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT) assets. After all, you cannot protect your assets if you aren’t aware of the assets you have. Make sure to critically examine networks, connected third-party systems, different data types, storage devices, and computing systems on the company’s network. Following this, classify these factors based on risk to the business. Understand how certain factors can also increase an asset’s inherent risk by measuring system availability and user access. You also need to focus on coupling, a term that revolves around the interdependencies of systems. This shows you how adversely one factor such as a higher risk asset can affect another factor in a security framework. While assets with greater importance should be at the top of your priority list, do not ignore those with a lower risk value. Remember, every asset contributes to the overall operational risk so it is essential to pay attention to all elements and accordingly seek the right remediation effort.

Next, identify asset owners in an organization by understanding how they are responsible for the asset and the risk involved in case the asset is compromised. Unless individuals are held accountable, the vulnerabilities found will be ignored as a nameless risk. Also, have an up-to-date vulnerability scanning tool and conduct recurrent scans so that new risks are identified and remediation of vulnerabilities can be reprioritized as information gets updated. Establishing timelines for remediation helps understand the extent to which an attacker is taking advantage of a vulnerability.

2) Asset discovery and inventory

As an organization, you need to simplify every element of your vulnerability management program so that it proves to be effective. To do this, you need to go through asset discovery and inventory. Asset discovery aims to manage all hardware devices on the network. This ensures only authorized devices can gain access while unmanaged devices are identified and prevented from getting into the network. On the other hand, asset inventory contributes to actively look at all software on the network, making sure only authorized software can be installed and implemented. These two controls are important so that attackers cannot exploit potentially unpatched shadow IT devices (devices used by a department or individual without the explicit approval or knowledge of the IT or security group in an organization).

3) Vulnerability detection, categorization and prioritization

It is imperative to conduct regular vulnerability scans as they proactively check for existing and potential application, network, and security issues. These scans distinguish and categorize system weaknesses in infrastructure equipment, computers, and networks. This scan can also be carried out by attackers when trying to locate points of entry into your organization’s network. It is therefore important for the IT department to run a vulnerability scanning service from the perspective of the organization examining the attack surface. Accordingly, you can categorize and prioritize the vulnerability that threatens your vital system.

Since this scan also shows you what can occur if your system or network is exploited, you gain the guidance necessary to minimize the risk posed to those assets. The scanning service uses a database to check details about the attack in question. These scans can also tell how competent counter-measures are in the event of a threat.

4) Reporting and remediation

After vulnerability detection is completed, a score is given to every vulnerability. This score is provided using a specialized convention that also connects to the skills required to examine the flaw and other critical data. If the vulnerability is easy to exploit, it results in a higher risk score. Also, as the vulnerability age increases so does the score of the vulnerability. This helps you generate a vulnerability risk management solution so that a remediation plan can be set in place.

To set up a good vulnerability management program, you need to begin with patch management by understanding which patches are available and applicable to the environment’s vulnerabilities. Implementing a security software solution such as SecurityShield helps you discover vulnerabilities, examine their impact, classify them and accordingly generate a prioritized risk response remediation plan to fix them. It is also important for all individuals in your organization to have intuitive workflows to coordinate remediation efforts carried out by the vulnerability risk management team and system owners. This helps to identify undetected data leaks and further strengthen the vulnerability management program.

Whether you are a government entity, small business, or huge corporation, every organization with an internet connection is at risk. Given how cyber threats are increasing and getting trickier by the day, it is better to proactively fight potential threats than manage the problem after an attacker has successfully paved their way into your system. If you aren’t sure about how to begin securing your organization’s sensitive information, you can read our blog on how to conduct a cyber risk assessment to get started or email us on info@sure-shield.com for guidance. For further information on how to enhance data security, follow SureShield on Twitter or LinkedIn.

HOW TO INCORPORATE RISK MANAGEMENT IN YOUR ORGANIZATION

Recent years have not been kind to workplace cybercrimes. To keep your organization secure, it is critical to conduct a cyber risk assessment. As the name suggests, it assesses the cyber risks your company or organization is facing. Risk assessments are used to identify, estimate, and prioritize risk to organizational operations, organizational assets, individuals and other organizations. Thus, resulting from the operation and use of information systems. It is essential to identify mitigation strategies for these risks for several different reasons such as safety of your employees and customers, financial security, operational continuity and dependability. Read our earlier blog post to know how to conduct a cyber risk assessment.

Here are 6 different ways you can incorporate risk management in your organization.

Assess Risks and Vulnerability

The nature of threats are constantly evolving and a change in security systems are required to keep up with this. The main goal of a security assessment is to assess and evaluate areas of vulnerability in the organization. Next, it is crucial to determine what kind of vulnerabilities they are (Potential or actual) so that they can be addressed effectively and efficiently. Last, appropriate measures are taken to minimize exposure to the threats or eliminate them.

Prioritize Risks

It is always necessary to determine the priorities of your workplace. Different security setups are implemented to mitigate different risks, and different systems are designed to protect different types of targets in your workplace. There are systems implemented to protect the personal safety of your organization, tangible property (cash, products) and intangible property (classified data). Identifying risks, prioritizing them based on their urgency and mitigating them effectively can vastly improve workplace risk management.

Comprehensive Planning

Comprehensive planning is vital to risk management strategies. Several security systems are specifically designed to detect risks and mitigate them. This takes time and advanced coordination. An organization may also need a custom setup that takes time to design, build and implement. Planning thoroughly for your organization’s security needs can contribute to better risk management. Healthcare organizations especially have become a common target during the ongoing pandemic. Read our blog on how to implement a healthcare risk management plan.

Monitor Software and Hardware 

Some of the more straightforward risks an organization faces are vulnerabilities in its software and hardware. These can be managed by monitoring and implementing the regular security updates of your technology provider. The task can prove to be difficult as every employee will need to be monitored. Implementing robust IT policies and regular check-ins for employees in the organization to monitor their technology usage and habits are critical steps in minimizing risk exposure.

Firewalls and Threat Intelligence

Securing your network is vital as several thousand sites are being accessed by your employees and every single computer is exposed to the internet, thus increasing your chances of being hacked. It is important to implement firewalls, which blocks untrustworthy websites and apps, conduct regular threat intelligence and implement security protocols on your networks. Implementing HackShield into your systems can greatly reduce your exposure. It mitigates risks by:

  • Instantly discovering sensitive data and applying transparent encryption
  • Monitoring and auditing data movement at the endpoint to ensure compliance
  • Assessing the level of liability on endpoints and stratify risk
  • Tracking and protecting selected data for anyone in the system
  • Shutting down access to protected data for terminated employees or discontinued third parties
  • Monitoring third-party downloading of protected health information (PHI) on any device
  • Writing rules as to who can have access to information
  • Preventing the transfer of data to non-authorized targets

Companies such as SureShield implement software to holistically conduct secure risk management for your organization. To know more, follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter or email us at info@sure-shield.com for any questions and we’ll be happy to help.