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Five Key Steps in Cybersecurity Risk Management

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By Sonit Jain

For organizations, cybersecurity is a non-negotiable area of investment in order to protect their precious technical and financial data along with their IP content. Risks in cybersecurity can impact organizations at any point in time without warnings in advance. Such attacks and threats can be exceptionally difficult to handle once they are successfully executed by cyber criminals. Therefore, corporations must proactively manage cybersecurity risks to prevent cyber attacks. A specialized cybersecurity team in such organizations can create and regularly update a robust risk management plan. Here are the steps organizations can take while managing real-time cybersecurity risks:

# 1. Ensure the detection of threats at an early stage

It can be assumed that an organization has set up a dedicated cybersecurity team and has established frameworks and reference points for all the employees and other stakeholders to follow when a cyber attack takes place. Honestly, the cybersecurity personnel must not wait for such a cyberattack to hit their data networks and completely overwhelm their servers and devices. Organizations must install and integrate proactive cybersecurity systems such as intelligent firewalls and advanced cloud security systems to nip the threat in the bud if it is detected in the early stages of a cyber attack.

# 2. Instill ownership within employees

Like the first step, organizations need not wait for a cyber attack to actually take place to implement this step. All the employees in the workplace must be aware of the things that are on the line if their employer is cyber attacked by hackers. As a result, they must know what steps and measures to implement at all times (regardless of whether an attack takes place or not). Examples of these steps can be as simple as locking one’s laptop during lunch breaks or not sharing network login details with anybody. Managers and top-level bosses can reward employees for their diligence in this regard. Essentially, employees must feel a sense of belonging to actually care for the organization’s cybersecurity. Generally, most cyber threats can be prevented if the employees of an organization play their part in safeguarding their employer’s data.

# 3. Analyse the cyber threat

Before dealing with a threat, organizations must analyse it carefully. This step ensures that companies use the right number of resources to deal with a cyber threat. Assessing a cyber threat involves knowing the consequences of letting it run unabated through the company’s networks. Analyzing a potential cyber threat (or an ongoing attack) can be more challenging than dealing with its impacts. Analyzing a cybersecurity risk involves a lot of data crunching and schematics. There are several types of assessment techniques available for organizations to make quantitative guesstimates regarding an attack in its early stages. To be effective, organizations must possess documented information about the various types of cyber threats and the budget and other resources to be used to counter them.

In the analysis phase, organizations must also estimate the damages incurred due to a data security attack in the future. Generally, there are three types of losses suffered by organizations whenever a cyber attack takes place:

  • Operational lossesare the expenses caused due to the data breach directly, such as the money needed to be spent on correcting the system damage after a cyber attack.
  • Legal lossesare the compensation expenses shelled out by organizations once they are dragged into court by their clients or other stakeholders whose data has been compromised via the cyber attack.
  • Goodwill loss is the reputational hit that an organization has suffered due to an attack. Social media and news channels can be particularly ruthless in destroying the reputation of beleaguered organizations during difficult times like these. While operational losses and legal expenses may be recovered within a few years, reputational losses stay on for much longer.

# 4. Create risk mitigation plans

After identification and analyses, organizations need to strategize to mitigate the impacts of a cyber attack. A risk-response mechanism is essential for organizations to deal with attacks when they take place. Firstly, organizations need to consider all their options regarding the mitigation process. Risk mitigation could be on a technical level or a human level. From a technical point of view, organizations can deploy end-to-end encryption of data and the installation of antivirus software on every device in the workplace. The human level involves basic cybersecurity etiquette in employees, the practice of constantly updating data security software, amongst other actions. One of the mitigation actions is having cybersecurity insurance in place. Generally, falling back on insurance is a last-ditch attempt to recoup some of the losses due to the attack. Organizations can make multiple mitigation plans for every type of cyber threat.

# 5. Constant monitoring of various entities

After the risk identification, analysis, and mitigation steps, organizations need to ensure that every stakeholder is closely monitored at all times. As we know, cybersecurity risks could be posed by internal as well as external drivers. This is why organizations must keep tabs on their employees, business partners, and other ‘insiders’.

Monitoring also includes continuous compliance with nationwide regulations regarding cybersecurity protocols. While purchasing software or devices from vendors, those purchases must be properly analysed and checked by the data security team before the organization implements them in their daily operations. Moreover, the technology used by the cybersecurity team for detection, prevention and/or mitigation of cyber threats must be of the best quality.

Your organization could be the victim of a cyber attack at any point in time. As specified earlier, if the cybersecurity of your organization is not perfect, you could incur several losses and unwanted expenses.

(The author is CEO of GajShield Infotech and the views expressed in this article are his own)

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