Strategies for Automating a Cyber Risk Assessment

What are Cyber Risk Assessments?

Risk assessments are a fundamental part of effective risk management and facilitate decision-making.  They are used to identify, estimate, and prioritize risk to business operations resulting from the use of information systems.

Strategies for Automating a Cyber Risk Assessment

What is the Purpose of a Cyber Risk Assessment?

The main point of a cyber risk assessment is to help stakeholders discover where an organization’s particular risks are located. The other major part of a cyber risk assessment is to continuously assess the risk landscape and be on the lookout for new zero days and newly developed risks. 

The result of the assessment is a measure of risk, either quantitative or qualitative. These two risk assessment approaches have advantages and disadvantages. A preferred approach can be selected based on organizational culture and, in particular, attitudes toward the concepts of uncertainty and risk communication. More on that here.

Risk assessments inform decision-makers and support risk responses by identifying: 

  1. Threats to an organization
  2. Internal and external vulnerabilities
  3. The impact that may occur given the potential for threats exploiting vulnerabilities
  4. The likelihood that risk will occur 

To help get a better handle on security risk assessments,  it’s convenient to refer to the NIST’s four broad categories of risk management: identify, protect, detect, and respond. Read on as we explain how risk assessments fit into the overall risk management process, and why it is so important to automate risk assessment tools in the digital era we live in.

Standard developers like ISO and NIST are always preaching about the importance of risk assessments. There is no arguing with the fact that businesses need to evaluate vulnerabilities in their corporate systems to determine risk factors. Automation can oil the gears of the assessment process.

We’ll provide a step-by-step strategy for organizations on: 

  • how to prepare for risk assessments 
  • how to conduct automated risk assessments 
  • how to automate communication of risk assessment results to key personnel
  • how to continuously maintain the risk assessments over time using automation 

Types of Security Risk Assessments

  • Cybersecurity Risk Assessment: This type of assessment focuses on identifying and evaluating risks related to information technology systems, networks, and digital assets. It involves analyzing potential cyber threats, vulnerabilities, and the impact of potential incidents on the organization’s data and operations.
  • Physical Security Risk Assessment: This assessment concentrates on evaluating risks related to the organization’s physical assets, facilities, and infrastructure. It assesses potential threats such as unauthorized access, theft, vandalism, natural disasters, and other physical security risks.
  • Operational Risk Assessment: Operational risk assessments analyze risks associated with business processes, procedures, and day-to-day operations. This includes identifying risks related to human error, inadequate controls, supply chain disruptions, and other operational vulnerabilities.
  • Third-Party Risk Assessment: This assessment evaluates the potential risks posed by external vendors, suppliers, or partners that have access to the organization’s sensitive information or play a critical role in its operations. It assesses the security practices of third parties to ensure they meet the organization’s security standards.

Guide to Cyber Risk Assessments and How to Automate Them

Prepare For the Risk Assessment  

The first step in the risk assessment strategy is to do the groundwork for the assessment. The objective of this step is to establish a context for the risk assessment. 

Preparing for a risk assessment includes the following tasks:

  • Identify the purpose of the assessment
  • Identify the scope of the assessment
  • Identify the assumptions and constraints associated with the assessment
  • Identify the sources of information to be used as inputs to the assessment
  • Identify the risk model or framework to be used 

Automating a cyber risk assessment facilitates the process of gathering relevant data. This involves the integration of various security risk assessment tools and systems within the organization, such as vulnerability scanners, network monitoring tools, and asset management systems. By automating data collection, organizations can streamline the process, ensuring that all necessary information is captured accurately and consistently.

Start Getting Value With
Centraleyes for Free

See for yourself how the Centraleyes platform exceeds anything an old GRC
system does and eliminates the need for manual processes and spreadsheets
to give you immediate value and run a full risk assessment in less than 30 days

Learn more about Automating a Cyber Risk Assessment

Conduct a Risk Assessment

The second step in the risk assessment strategy process is to conduct the assessment. The objective of this step is to produce a list of information security risks that can be prioritized by risk level and used to inform risk response decisions. To accomplish this objective, organizations analyze threats and vulnerabilities, impacts and likelihood, and the uncertainty associated with the risk assessment process. 

Automated risk assessment tools facilitate the efficient evaluation of risks by assigning scores and priorities to identified vulnerabilities. Utilizing predefined criteria and risk models, automated systems can analyze the collected data and generate risk scores based on severity, exploitability, potential impact, and other relevant factors. This enables organizations to prioritize their response efforts and allocate resources effectively to mitigate the most critical risks first.

In addition, cyber security risk assessment tools can be enhanced by integrating threat intelligence feeds into the assessment process. By connecting to external sources of threat intelligence, such as industry-specific feeds, public vulnerability databases, and threat intelligence platforms, organizations can leverage up-to-date information on emerging threats and attack vectors. This integration empowers risk assessment systems to make informed decisions based on current threat landscape analysis.

Communicate Results

The third step in the risk assessment process is to communicate the assessment results and share risk-related information. The objective of this step is to ensure that decision-makers across the organization have the appropriate risk-related information needed to inform and guide risk decisions.

Once again, automation steps up to the plate in this phase of the process. With automation, you’ll streamline the generation of risk assessment reports, enabling organizations to provide clear and concise information to stakeholders. Automated systems can generate visualizations, dashboards, and metrics that simplify the communication of risk-related insights. These reports can be customized to cater to the specific needs of different stakeholders, such as executives, IT personnel, and auditors, ensuring that the right information is presented in a comprehensible manner.

Don’t Let Go

The fourth step in the risk assessment process is to maintain the assessment. The objective of this step is to keep current, the specific knowledge of the risk organizations incur. The results of risk assessments inform risk management decisions and guide risk responses. 

To support the ongoing review of risk management decisions, organizations maintain risk assessments to incorporate any changes detected through risk monitoring. Risk monitoring provides a continuos process for organizations to:

  • Determine the effectiveness of risk responses
  • Identify risk-impacting changes to organizational information systems and the environments in which those systems operate
  • Verify compliance

Maintaining risk assessments includes the following tasks:

  • Monitor risk factors identified in risk assessments on an ongoing basis and understand subsequent changes to those factors
  • Update the components of risk assessments reflecting the monitoring activities carried out by organizations. 

Automated risk assessment solutions enable continuous monitoring of systems and networks. This approach allows organizations to identify and assess risks in real-time, providing timely responses to potential threats. By continuously monitoring and analyzing security logs, event data, and network traffic, automated systems can quickly detect anomalies, suspicious activities, and vulnerabilities, reducing the time between detection and response.

What’s Wrong With Legacy Systems for Risk Assessments?

Legacy systems for risk assessments suffer from outdated technology, limited integration capabilities, inadequate security features, scalability challenges, lack of vendor support and updates, inefficient processes, compliance difficulties, and a lack of advanced analytics capabilities. To address these issues, organizations should consider upgrading to modern risk assessment solutions that offer improved automation, integration, scalability, and advanced analytics capabilities to effectively manage the evolving cyber risk landscape.
Automation is critical for security teams. By minimizing the inefficiencies of manual processes, security teams can refocus their time and budget on other areas of improvement. Automation alleviates the burden associated with manual processes like mapping frameworks, cyber risk assessments, and control scoring, and overall, can deliver faster and more accurate results. With a platform like Centraleyes, you can do even more with risk data. Use this distilled data to inform decision-making and cyber risk management strategizing with security and business operations.

Start Getting Value With
Centraleyes for Free

See for yourself how the Centraleyes platform exceeds anything an old GRC
system does and eliminates the need for manual processes and spreadsheets
to give you immediate value and run a full risk assessment in less than 30 days

Looking to learn more about Automating a Cyber Risk Assessment?
Skip to content