Blog, Learning Center July 12, 2021

8 Top Strategies for Cybersecurity Risk Mitigation

In recent years, there has been a clear rise in threat volume and sophistication as many cybercriminals shift to techniques that can effectively evade detection and easily go after high-value targets. IoT devices are becoming a focus for threat actors, and threats related to credential harvesting and ransomware are also growing in number. Additionally, some cybercriminals are moving their infrastructure to the cloud in hopes of blending in among legitimate services.

All of these trends point to a clear need for an effective cybersecurity risk mitigation strategy, otherwise, your organization risks falling behind the evolving attacks coming from today’s threat landscape. Let’s take a look at 8 key strategies for bolstering security and limiting the impact of successful attacks, including conducting a risk assessment using security ratings, continuous monitoring, and more.

What is cybersecurity risk mitigation?

Cybersecurity risk mitigation involves the use of security policies and processes to reduce the overall risk or impact of a cybersecurity threat. In regard to cybersecurity, risk mitigation can be separated into three elements: prevention, detection, and remediation. As cybercriminals’ techniques rise in sophistication, your organization’s cybersecurity risk mitigation strategies will have to adapt to maintain the upper hand.

8 cybersecurity risk mitigation strategies

Proactive cybersecurity risk mitigation is quickly becoming the only option for organizations as the likelihood of experiencing a cyber attack is all but guaranteed. Here are 8 top strategies for mitigating cybersecurity incidents across your IT ecosystem:

1. Conduct a cybersecurity risk assessment

The first step in a cybersecurity risk mitigation strategy should be to conduct a cybersecurity risk assessment, which can help uncover potential gaps in your organization’s security controls. A risk assessment can offer insight into the assets that need to be protected and the security controls currently in place. Conducting a cybersecurity risk assessment can also help your organization’s IT security team identify areas of vulnerability that could be potentially exploited and prioritize which vulnerabilities should be remediated first. Security ratings are a great way to gain a real-time look at your organization’s cybersecurity posture, as well as that of your third- and fourth-party vendors.

2. Establish network access controls

Once you have assessed your assets and identified high-priority problem areas, the next step is to establish network access controls to help mitigate the risk of insider threats. Many organizations are turning to security systems such as zero trust, which assesses trust and user access privileges on an as-needed basis depending on each user’s specific job function. This helps minimize both the likelihood and impact of threats or attacks that occur due to employee negligence or a simple lack of awareness of cybersecurity best practices. Additionally, as the number of connected devices on a network increases, endpoint security has also become a growing concern.

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3. Implement firewalls and antivirus software

Another important cybersecurity risk mitigation strategy involves the installation of security solutions such as firewalls and antivirus software. These technological defenses offer an additional barrier to your computer or network. Firewalls act as a buffer between the outside world and your network, which gives your organization greater control over incoming and outgoing traffic. Similarly, antivirus software searches your device and/or network to identify any potentially malicious threats.

4. Create a patch management schedule

Many software providers release patches consistently, and today’s cybercriminals are aware of that. Threat actors can quickly exploit vulnerabilities that remain unpatched. Organizations should be aware of the typical patch release schedule among their service or software providers to create an effective patch management schedule that can help your organization’s IT security team stay ahead of attackers.

5. Continuously monitor network traffic

Proactive action is one of the most effective strategies for mitigating cybersecurity risk. With roughly 2,200 attacks occurring every day, the only way to truly stay ahead of cybercriminals is to continuously monitor network traffic, as well as your organization’s cybersecurity posture. To truly enable real-time threat detection and cybersecurity risk mitigation, consider tools that allow you to gain a comprehensive view of your entire IT ecosystem at any point in time, rather than just a manual, static point in time. Continuous monitoring allows your IT security team to actively identify new threats and determine the optimal path to remediate them.

6. Build an incident response plan

Ensuring that everyone, including both the IT security team and non-technical employees, knows what they’re responsible for in the event of a data breach or attack can make it easier to have resources in place and ready to go. This is known as an incident response plan, and it is one of the most critical components to mitigating cyber risk in your organization’s evolving network environments. Threats can come from anywhere, and they are continuously growing in sophistication, meaning it’s becoming increasingly difficult to completely prevent data breaches. An incident response plan helps your organization do as much as possible to remain proactively prepared so your team can move quickly and efficiently to remediate any issues.

7. Examine the physical security of your business

Many organizations think it’s enough to simply manage the digital piece of cybersecurity risks. However, the physical premises of your business are equally as important. Conducting a cybersecurity risk assessment will help determine if critical data and infrastructure are safe from a data breach and will help identify if the back-up and protection policies you have in place are sound and up-to-date.

8. Minimize your attack surface

Attack surface refers to the areas of vulnerabilities or entry points that cybercriminals can use to access sensitive information and data. This can be anything from web applications and software to employees. Minimizing your attack surface includes assessing the following:

  1. Physical attack surface: any business assets that a cybercriminal can exploit if they have physical access to the business building, premises, etc.
  2. Digital attack surface: any assets that are accessible via the internet or outside a firewall. This can include anything from known assets such as corporate servers to unknown assets such as applications that impersonate your business.
  3. Social engineering attack surface: this involves the manipulation of your employees by a cybercriminal to release sensitive information and data about your business.

In addition, keeping software up-to-date in a repeatable cadence for all your assets is extremely important to minimize your attack surface. Proper attack surface intelligence will help businesses understand their security posture and threat landscape to help identify and reduce any vulnerabilities throughout their business.

How SecurityScorecard helps you mitigate cybersecurity risk

Cybersecurity risk mitigation is a task that should never truly end, as new threat actors are entering the landscape at a rapid pace. To keep today’s dynamic environments protected, organizations will need to employ proactive cybersecurity monitoring to ensure that threats are being identified and remediated as quickly as possible.

SecurityScorecard’s security ratings offer an outside-in view of the security posture of your organization’s IT infrastructure, giving your team visibility into your network and system vulnerabilities at any given point in time. The platform’s easy-to-read dashboard makes it easier than ever to confidently take control of third-party risk, enable continuous compliance, and make informed decisions about how to improve security in the future. By implementing the right security controls today, your organization can stay protected against the emerging threats of tomorrow.

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Cybersecurity risk mitigation FAQs

What is cyber risk remediation?

Cyber risk remediation is the process of identifying and addressing cyber threats that can impact your business and network security.

What is a security mitigation plan?

A security mitigation plan is the use of security policies and processes to reduce the overall risk or impact of a cybersecurity threat on your business.

What are the strategies to mitigate cybersecurity incidents?

The top strategies to mitigate cybersecurity incidents include:

  • Conducting a cybersecurity risk assessment
  • Establishing network access controls
  • Implementing firewalls and antivirus software
  • Creating a patch management schedule
  • Continuously monitoring network traffic
  • Building an incident response plan
  • Examining the physical security of your business
  • Minimizing your attack surface

How do businesses create a cybersecurity risk mitigation plan?

Businesses can create a cybersecurity risk mitigation plan by performing these assessments and identifying the following information:

  • Identify the most valuable digital assets in your organization
  • Audit the data and intellectual property within your business
  • Perform a cyber risk assessment
  • Analyze the security and associated threat levels
  • Establish a cyber risk management team
  • Automate cybersecurity risk mitigation and prevention duties
  • Establish an incident response plan
  • Educate employees on cybersecurity best practices and policies