Importance of Network Security Risk Management

By Kasey Hewitt

Posted on Jul 7, 2020

When you invest in cybersecurity, you’re often concerned with protecting your networks from being breached. But what happens when the worst happens? If your networks are breached, do you know what will happen?

Exactly what information would be put at risk in an attack? What information would be compromised? Which records would be exposed? How soon would you know your network had been breached? Lastly, what is your plan in the face of possible attacks — how would you respond? Is your network resilient enough to withstand a breach?

If you don’t know the answers to any of the above questions — it’s time to invest in risk management for your network security.

What is risk management in network security?

No matter how good your cyber defenses are, you’ll always carry some risk. Most companies don’t know what their actual risk is until after they’ve already been attacked by a cyber criminal. A report from EY, found that 76% of organizations only increased their security budget after a major cyber attack.

While risk can never be eliminated, it can be mitigated. Risk management is a process that seeks to mitigate risk by acknowledging the existing risks, assessing their impact, and planning a response.

This is particularly important in network security, ”the process of taking physical and software preventative measures to protect the underlying networking infrastructure from unauthorized access, misuse, malfunction, modification, destruction, or improper disclosure,” according to the SANS Institute.

Why? If your network is like that of many organizations, it’s an overlapping infrastructure of cloud systems, wireless systems, and other systems, platforms and networks. Several people have some access to it — from employees to customers to third parties, like suppliers and vendors. There’s more than likely plenty of risk to manage, and it’s crucial you know where that risk is.

3 steps for managing risk in your network security

1. Map out your network

    To manage your risk, you’ll need to know where it lies. So first, identify the assets in your network that could be targeted by cyber criminals. This means you’ll need to map your network — which may be difficult if your network is a patchwork of cloud services, for example. You’ll want to understand which parts of your network criminals might want to target, which are most at risk of being targeted, and which might not be secure at all.

    2. Identify your network’s risks

      Once you’ve identified the weak points in your network, you’ll need to identify the risks that could affect your organization. You’ll want to examine external risks — like attacks and breaches, as well as internal risks — like poorly configured infrastructure or other mistakes that might let in bad actors. Part of identifying risk means looking at current and developing risks — cyber criminals are often one step ahead of security, so you should expect that risks will be evolving and commit to a plan of monitoring the risk ecosystem. You’ll also want to look at the risks you’ve faced in the past — which will give you some insight into your current risks. Previous attacks can tell you how attackers accessed your systems in the past as well as how your team responded and how effective those responses were at the time.

      3. Plan for an attack

        Once you know the risks you face, it’s time to plan ahead. If there’s an attack on your network, what will your team’s response be? How quickly will you be able to discover the attack? Some of the ways to prepare for an attack include having redundant systems, so that compromised parts of the network can be quickly replaced with other systems, or being able to quickly change credentials to lock out intruders.Having a plan in place and decisions made ahead of time is a crucial part of mitigating risk — the Ponemon Institute finds that one of the best ways to reduce the cost of an attack is to plan for one.The average time it takes to contain a breach is 279 days — in that time an attacker can do a lot of damage. If your team has a plan, however, you can move quickly to identify the breach and respond.

        How can SecurityScorecard help?

        Waiting for an attack to occur to address cyber risk can cost you, and bankrupt small and mid-sized businesses — the average data breach costs close to $4 million.

        Risk management is a way for organizations to stay aware of their own risks. SecurityScorecard helps you identify your company's cybersecurity risk by showing you the weaknesses in your networks and the threats to your organization. Our security scores allow you to see your security controls from the outside — just as cyber criminals see them — so you can prevent network breaches by seeing the risks before there’s an attack.

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