How To Perform A Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

Apr 17, 2023 6 Min Read

Photo by Markus Spiske @ unsplash

"Look at your IT infrastructure in your business operations and identify vulnerabilities."

Cybersecurity risk assessment aims to test the ability of an organisation to protect itself from cyber threats. It entails looking at the information and information systems vulnerable to cyber-attacks. An organisation can benefit from cybersecurity risk assessment by installing controls and risk mitigation measures, such as training staff in cybersecurity.

This may interest you: How To Build A Culture Of Cybersecurity For Your Business

If you’re experiencing consistent cybersecurity issues and don’t know what to do, outsourcing to IT professionals, such as Chicago based IT support services, can be the best solution for your organisation. It’ll spare you the headache of constantly fighting cyberattacks and safeguarding your business information. 

This article will show you how to perform a cybersecurity risk assessment. But first, what is cybersecurity risk?

Understanding Cybersecurity Risk

Businesses using information technology for data management and storage are vulnerable to cybersecurity risks. These risks can enable hackers to penetrate your database and cause harm, which then disrupts business information and online operations and can result in substantial losses.  

woman in black shirt sitting beside black flat screen computer monitor

The following are examples of common cyber risks in the digital landscape:

  • Cyberattacks
  • Ransomware
  • Phishing 
  • Insider threat
  • Data leaks
  • Malware

It’s easy to fall victim to these cybersecurity threats if you don’t audit your data management processes and IT systems. Cybersecurity risks target weaknesses in your systems, and they can create gateways to your database and take control of your operations. 

Read more: 5 Ways To Foster Cyber Resilience In Your Company

Considering Vulnerability

Before you perform a cybersecurity assessment in your organisation, it’s crucial to identify the primary vulnerable points in your IT systems. Typically, IT professionals tag the level of vulnerability as high, medium, low, or zero. Knowing the level can help you to develop a framework to protect your business information and the supporting systems. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are your primary threats?
  • How robust are your IT systems?
  • What is the impact of cybercrime on your business? Is your business reputation on the line? What about your finances?

Use a systematic approach to highlight vulnerable areas in your information systems to safeguard your database. If you’re not conversant with assessing your weak points in your IT-related matters, you can outsource to professionals or get assistance concerning cyber security from KDIT services and similar service providers.

Assessing Cybersecurity Risk

Cybersecurity risk assessment is a tool that helps IT professionals to identify, evaluate, and determine the level of risk exposure in business operations. It provides a platform to streamline the use of information systems within an organisation. In addition, the findings of the cybersecurity risk assessment enable management to make crucial business decisions. 

Performing A Cybersecurity Risk Assessment 

Before you embark on cybersecurity risk assessment, you must consider your organisation’s data and IT infrastructure. Creating a protective strategy that runs throughout your establishment is helpful. The following are important steps:

Data Review: Look at the data sources and the underlying management of the information collected. How are the data stored? What document protection measures are you using? Do you have access control to the database? It’s crucial to answer these questions to guide your next steps.

Cybersecurity Audit Framework: Once you review the data and IT systems, map out your assessment framework. Define the purpose and the scope of your cybersecurity risk assessment. Collect all the resources needed to complete the evaluation. Decide which risk model to use when performing the inspection. For instance, you can consider Center for Internet Security Controls standards as a guideline for conducting the assessment.

Supplementary reading: How CEOs Can Make Their Companies More Cybersecure

black laptop computer turned on

Once you tackle the facets of cybersecurity risk assessment, do the following:

1. Define the Value Of Your Business Information

Defining the value of your business information and the underlying operations is crucial. You’ll have an easy time developing specific protective standards that cannot interfere with your business. Install an information risk management policy for asset classification purposes. Asset in this context can be the legal standing of your business, asset value, and business operations, among other essential business-related functions.

The probable result of a cybersecurity infringement should be your guideline when defining the value of your business information. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are the financial implications on your business for losing the information?
  • If your competition gets the leaked information, will your business survive?
  • Will your operations continue uninterrupted?
  • Can you recover the lost information?

You’ll have a scope for the cybersecurity risk assessment by questioning the possible outcome of a breach.

2. Categorise Assets

Deciding the priority level is a necessary step. Look at the business establishment and the operations’ workforce, including the management, access controls, policies, hardware and software, and business data. Categorise each facet of your business to conduct a risk assessment effectively.

3. Define Cyber Threats

Cyber threats are weaknesses in your IT systems that can be used to cause harm. Look at all the possible ways hackers can penetrate your security and reach your database. Be mindful of the following:

  • System failure
  • Malware
  • Natural disasters
  • Human error
  • Staff sabotage
person using laptop computers

However, businesses have different cyber threats that can affect the underlying operations. Ensure you identify the potential threats early to learn their impact on your business. 

Explore this: What Leaders Can Do For Their Business During A Cybersecurity Breach

4. Know Your Vulnerabilities

What are the chances of your threats breaking through your cybersecurity system? The best way to find out is by performing a vulnerability analysis during the risk assessment exercise. Your data management processes and IT systems are the weakest links in this context. So, you must consider the hardware and software used in your business and the people accessing your business information. Regularly update your IT safety systems, such as software, and limit access to your database.

5. Review Your Controls

Assess the cybersecurity control measures that you have in your business. They are your first line of defence from potential threats. Are they able to withstand breach attempts? Consider installing both protective and detective cybersecurity controls. Place encryption, antivirus, and surveillance of data and IT systems as a preventive strategy. Use data exposure detection to alert you when there’s a breach in your database and IT infrastructure.

Auxiliary reading: Why OT Cyber Security Is The Key To Operational Resilience

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6. Estimate The Impact Of Cybersecurity

Facing cyber threats is one thing; penetrating your data and systems security is another consideration. Losing your database can damage your business reputation and revenue generation.

You should estimate the losses you can incur should hackers gain control of your business data. For instance, if your database holds all your business information and the estimated value is USD$1 million, a cyberattack taking 50% of control will mean you’re at a loss of USD$500,000. You’ll soon run out of business if this is an annual trend.


As technology transforms businesses, you should not overlook the need for a cybersecurity risk assessment. Hackers are constantly devising ways to breach your database and IT systems. You should see to it that you can outlast cyber threats as you run your business. Look at your IT infrastructure in your business operations and identify vulnerabilities. You’ll save time and money troubleshooting causes of consistent cyberattacks. 

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Tiana Eriksson has been working as an IT support for a decade now, and she has witnessed many changes since. Now, she wants to provide support to businesses and individuals, so she shares her expertise by writing guest posts. During her free time, she bakes perfectly fluffy cakes that her family and friends keep telling her to sell.


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