Updated March 17, 2023
Introduction to Security Risk Analysis
Cyber Security Risk Analysis is also known as Security Risk Assessment or Cyber Security risk framework. A security risk assessment identifies, assesses, and implements key security controls in applications. It is also utilized to prevent the systems, software, and applications that have security defects and vulnerabilities. The process of determining the security controls is often complex, given the controls are appropriate and cost-effective. In our article, we will be following the guidelines by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); NIST is a US agency that is rolled up under the department of commerce.
Why do we Need a Cyber Security Risk Assessment?
The primary purpose of cyber risk assessment or security risk analysis is to help inform decision-makers and support appropriate risk responses.
There are many reasons why a risk assessment is required:
- When it comes to quantitative risk assessment, they can help you save costs that may result from a security breach, hence creating a security incident. In addition, they can also minimize the qualitative costs such as reputational damage to the organization.
- An organization becomes aware of the risk and threats and how to tackle them on a repeated basis and carry out the risk assessment to uncover threats and vulnerabilities.
- It can help an organization avoid any compromise to assets and security breaches.
How to Perform a Cyber Security Risk Assessment?
There are certain guidelines from NIST that can be followed:
1. Upgrade and Update Software as Soon as the Patch is Available
The organization should upgrade and patch the systems and software as soon as they are made available or released in the market. It is a good practice to automate the upgrading process as the manual procedure might get skipped sometimes, but it is scheduled to run as a part of the scope when it comes to automation. The bad guys keep looking at patches and possible exploits, and these can later become N-Day attacks. The updates are always signed and prove their integrity by securely being shared over the protected links.
2. Access Controls and Privileges
Any organization must use proper access controls and Privileged Access Management to manage the user accounts and their controls. The users should exactly be given the controls that they need, not less nor more. If given less, it will affect productivity, while if given more, it may open a path for exploit which could be disastrous. The elevated account must be controlled and monitored as they carry high privileges, and so, if they fall into bad hands, will be the impact of a compromise. All of the user’s accounts should be protected and monitored as well.
3. Enforce Signed Software Execution Policies
The software that is being used should agree to the integrity, i.e. it should not be altered or modified in any way; it should be properly signed. This can be easily checked by matching with hash functions like SHA256 or SHA 512 values. In addition, a list of reliable certificates should be maintained. If altered or unsigned software is used by any chance, it may have been designed to create vulnerabilities, and it should open up a door to expose your systems to hackers.
4. Implementation of System Recovery Plan
In times of adverse situations such as a disaster like floods and earthquakes, one should be ready with a recovery plan to take care of employees, assets, and mitigation and keep supporting the organization function from another place that is not affected by the disaster. Therefore, a recovery plan must be created, reviews, and exercised (tested) regularly.
5. Actively Manage Systems and Configurations
The organization should review software that is present in the user’s system and access controls that are enabled for users. The users should also be directed to raise requests to remove unnecessary software or privileges that are no longer required as a part of their role. By doing this, it will reduce the attack surface to a greater extent.
6. Threat Hunting and Threat Intelligence for Network and Host Intrusion
The endpoint protection solutions are often not fully capable of blocking, detecting, and removing the threat from the systems, especially if the attack is targeted and sophisticated. To detect such threats, we should employ threat hunting and threat intelligence solutions that will correlate the organization’s environment from the threat indicators from across the globe, and if there are any matches, it will trigger an alert. A similar practice should be employed to network as well, where we can put IPS/IDS to filter through network packets to look for suspicious activities.
7. Implementing Modern Hardware Security Features
Today’s hardware comes with great security features such as Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), Trusted Platform Modules (TPM), virtualization of hardware, disk encryption, port security which should be enabled to prevent any hardware security breaches which may finally takeover confidential data and breach security.
8. Separate the Network using Application-aware Defense
Separate critical networks and services. Deploy application-aware network security to block improperly formed according to traffic and restricted content, policy and legal authorities. Traditional intrusion detection based on known and signatures is effectively reduced due to encryption and offset techniques.
9. Integrate Threat Reputation Services
As pointed out earlier, the endpoint solutions are not fully capable of blocking, detecting and removing the threat from the systems, especially if the attack is targeted and sophisticated. In such cases, we can integrate global threat reputation services (GTRS) in our environment to get our files checked against the huge number of reputation services.
10. Multi-Factor Authentication
The multi-factor authentication just acts like a defense in a depth approach where we get a second layer of security. The hacker will find the greatest difficulty of his life cracking a device where multi-factor authentication is enabled; it cannot be unlocked unless physically accessed or attacked. So organizations should always deploy multi-factor authentication at all the places where it can be applied.
This article has learned how to define cybersecurity risk analysis and saw why it is needed. We further explored various ways and guidelines that can help us in performing the risk assessment.
This is a guide to Security Risk Analysis. Here we discuss basic meaning, why we need it, and how to perform cyber security risk assessment. You can also go through our other related articles to learn more –