Should Your Business Consider a Risk Assessment?


What is a risk assessment?

A risk assessment is a proactive evaluation that seeks to detect or identify any risks or vulnerabilities in your system, network, software, device, physical, and other areas of your business that could pose a cyber risk. The results of the assessment is to aid your company in determining how it will respond to and manage the risk.

Am I required to perform a risk assessment?

In some cases, yes your business is required to perform annual risk assessments conducted by an impartial third party. Certain compliance regulations may apply to your company depending on the sector you or your clients operate in. In the financial, healthcare, energy, and educational sectors, for example, there are several strict requirements for testing for cyber vulnerability with regular risk assessments. Compliance begins with a complete cyber risk assessment. Based on the results of your risk assessment, the company may provide suggestions for remediation to ensure your company stays compliant.

Can I do perform my own risk assessment?

In most cases, no. Your organization can perform an internal audit of your cyber risks and work towards remediation but this can be challenging or not allowed in the case of certain compliance requirements. Unless your organization has a team of seasoned cybersecurity and compliance professionals it can be difficult or impossible to determine what your risks are, what security vulnerabilities you have, and what remediation steps to follow once the risk assessment is complete. However, a risk assessment performed by cybersecurity experts can often be completed quickly and offer valuable improvements for your organization to develop confidence and give a new level of security and service to your clients. 

What does a risk assessment look like?

A comprehensive risk assessment should begin with a complete security audit to determine what you have, what you need, and where the organization performing your risk assessment can help. This allows them to provide cost-effective recommendations for the technology and procedures you’ll need to stay compliant with applicable requirements while increasing your company’s productivity and profitability.  NIST offers a set of industry standards to follow when conducting risk assessments that include information review, interviews, documentation analysis, physical walkthroughs, digital review, policy and procedure review, and security testing. 

The scope and depth of a cybersecurity assessment are determined by the size of your company, industry, risk tolerance, timeframe, and budget. Understanding, monitoring, controlling, and minimizing cyber risk throughout your company is the goal of a cybersecurity risk assessment. It’s an important aspect of every company’s risk management strategy and data security activities. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework is used by many cyber security companies to offer a foundation for best practices in risk assessments.