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What is Cybersecurity Risk Management?

Stay ahead of attackers with proactive and preventative processes

Cybersecurity risk management is a component of IT risk management where a cybersecurity lens is placed on the IT infrastructure. It specifically involves continuously identifying, assessing, and mitigating potential cyber risks in the context of the threat landscape and understanding the potential impacts. Due to the fact that cyber risk can’t be effectively managed without a comprehensive view of the overall attack surface, it’s vital to have continuous visibility and awareness of all assets with proper attack surface protection.
Ultimately, cyber risk management will need to be a standard component of IT risk management everywhere, and be seen as a priority for IT teams.

Importance of Cybersecurity Risk Management

Since more of the physical world is connected to virtual tools, the scope of cybersecurity risk management is increasingly expanding. The breadth of cybersecurity has to incorporate things like the surge in remote access technologies with the move to more hybrid work, increased reliance on vendor and business unit architecture, and continued and bigger cloud initiatives.

The added complexity of this ever growing attack surface adds greater pressure to cybersecurity risk management. Extended visibility into IT infrastructure and data will help detect unauthorized activities or weak configurations. Getting ahead of attackers by remediating or mitigating weaknesses before they are exploited can prevent cybersecurity breaches and any serious privacy risk, as well as any damage to business systems and assets.

An attack surface is the sum of an organization’s attacker-exposed IT assets, whether these digital assets are secure or vulnerable, known or unknown, in active use or not, and regardless of IT or security team awareness of them

CyCognito provides our company with cutting-edge technology giving visibility into all our web-facing assets  and provides better data than other attack surface management tools we've used.


"CyCognito provides our company with cutting-edge technology enabling my team to have global visibility into all our web-facing assets in an easy-to-use interface, and it does so better than other attack surface management tools we've used."

– Alex Schuchman
Chief Information Security Officer
Colgate-Palmolive

 

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Cybersecurity Risk Management Process and How to Develop a Plan

Cyber risk management is a proactive approach to security that focuses on identification, assessment, prioritization, mitigation or remediation, and then the ongoing monitoring of risk across an organization. 

The cybersecurity risk management process may vary across different organizations and their enterprise risk management (ERM) practices, but it essentially will have these five steps:

  1. Cybersecurity Risk Identification
  2. Cybersecurity Risk Assessment
  3. Prioritization
  4. Risk Mitigation and Remediation
  5. Ongoing Monitoring

Cybersecurity Risk Management Process option 1

 

5 Steps to Cybersecurity Risk Management

The goal of risk identification is to spot all possible security gaps that could let an attacker into IT systems and applications. This process involves mapping the entire attack surface and identifying vulnerabilities and other attack vectors, like misconfigurations, that expose an IT ecosystem to risk. There are any number of types of attack vectors to check for. See our blog to find out more about the top 15 attack vectors to test for.

This process can be broken down into an analysis and evaluation of the identified risks. It’s imperative to understand both who owns the assets presenting risk, especially those presenting the highest risk, as well as what business processes run on them and what data may be potentially exposed.

A sound understanding of the enterprise impact of cybersecurity risks will help identify the assets most valuable and critical to the organization as well as threats, existing controls, vulnerabilities, and consequences. CyCognito’s platform helps security and IT teams assess each of these areas to gain a comprehensive look at all possible risks.

Organizations can’t secure everything at once. Prioritization and security grading helps security and IT teams to remove the most severe risks from the business and any associated risk from subsidiaries or mergers and acquisitions.

After all, a CVE with a high CVSS score that is not being exploited and is a path into a system or set of systems with no confidential or business-critical information can be put aside and remediated another day while a CVE with an active exploit in the wild that leads to systems with highly sensitive customer data should be remediated right away.

Ideally, a high-risk attack vector identified through the processes above can then be remediated entirely. However, that is not always the case. Sometimes the answer is mitigation. The process of mitigation involves risk treatment and reduction, the goal of which is to minimize and contain the impact of a security event. Risk treatment strategies can be grouped into several categories:

  • Risk transference: shifting risk to a third party, such as a hosted provider or insurance company.
  • Risk acceptance: if the cost of removing the risk is higher than dealing with the issue when it occurs, organizations can accept the risk.
  • Risk reduction: determining the acceptable level of risk and putting controls in place to minimize the risk.

CyCognito’s remediation framework helps IT teams to easily focus their remediation and mitigation efforts with its own intelligent and automatic prioritization. This remediation tool helps to operationalize risk mitigation and remediation.

Risk management is an ongoing process and requires due diligence on controls that have been put in place. As threats and vulnerabilities grow and evolve, it will be crucial to continuously monitor for new risks as well as to evaluate the effectiveness of risk mitigation and remediation efforts.

To aid this process, clear documentation of the steps above will help IT teams revise and modify their cybersecurity risk management plan. This proactive approach also helps organizations to align with compliance and regulation requirements.

 

Cybersecurity Risk Management Framework and Standards

A number of standards and frameworks are available to help organizations standardize their approach to cyber risk management. These frameworks and standards contain guidance on best practices and offer standardized language to help teams communicate better across different teams. Adhering to these will generally set an organization up in a more optimal position to meet any statutory or regulatory compliance requirements, avoiding the hefty fines and penalties associated with them.

 

 

Cybersecurity Risk Management Framework and Standards

A number of standards and frameworks are available to help organizations standardize their approach to cyber risk management. These frameworks and standards contain guidance on best practices and offer standardized language to help teams communicate better across different teams. Adhering to these will generally set an organization up in a more optimal position to meet any statutory or regulatory compliance requirements, avoiding the hefty fines and penalties associated with them.

ISO/IEC 27001:2013

An international standard for information security management systems (ISMS) to provide confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information as well as legal compliance. It includes guidance on how to approach initiating, implementing, operating, and maintaining an organization’s ISMS.
 
ISO 27001:2013 states the following practices for an information security risk assessment:
  • Establish and maintain information security risk criteria;
  • Ensure repeated risk assessments produce consistent, valid, and comparable results;
  • Identify risks associated with the loss of confidentiality, integrity, and availability for information in the ISMS;
  • Identify the owners of those risks; and
  • Analyze and evaluate information security risks according to the established criteria.

NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) Version 1.1

A widely recognized self-certification mechanism, the NIST CSF provides an extensive set of recommended security actions across five critical functions: identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover. In addition to helping organizations manage and reduce risks, it was designed to foster risk and cybersecurity management communications among both internal and external organizational stakeholders.
 
NIST updates the CSF every three years, the latest version made in 2020 is version 1.1, which recommends the following steps:
  • Identify and document asset vulnerabilities
  • Tune into the latest cyber threat intelligence from information-sharing forums
  • Identify and document threats, both internal and external
  • Identify potential business impacts and likelihood of risk events
  • Utilize threats, vulnerabilities, likelihood, and impacts to determine risk
  • Identify and prioritize risk responses
NIST also provides a Risk Management Framework, which specifically looks at integrating security, privacy, and cybersecurity supply-chain risk management efforts.
 
The CyCognito platform helps organizations follow this standard by mapping closely to the Identify and Protect functions of the NIST Framework, and contributing to Detect, Respond and Recover functions.
 

MITRE ATT&CK Framework

Tactics in the MITRE ATT&CK Framework are based on real-world observations of cyberattacks. It’s a free and open knowledge base of adversary tactics and techniques. While the majority of the ATT&CK Framework is geared towards detecting attackers in real-time during an attack, its Reconnaissance and Resource Development tactics are focused on attacker preparation.
 
The CyCognito platform preempts attacks by addressing these two tactics. The platform also offers some support for the later ATT&CK tactics such as Initial Access, Execution, Persistence, Privilege Elevation, Defense Evasion, Credential Access, Discovery, Lateral Movement, and Collection. Take a look at the MITRE ATT&CK matrix to learn more.
 

CIS Critical Security Controls (CIS CSC)

The CIS CSC give pragmatic and actionable cyber defense recommendations with 20 key actions for organizations to implement. The controls are designed so that primarily automated methods can be used to implement, enforce, and monitor them. SANS supports the CIS Controls with training, research, and certification.
 
The CyCognito platform maps to 14 of the CIS controls at least partially and provides extensive coverage around inventory of assets, vulnerability and penetration testing, and security of ports and services.
 

 

Stay ahead with proper cybersecurity risk management

If you’ve gotten this far, then it’s clear to see the importance of attack surface protection enabled by the process of cybersecurity risk management. Adhering to frameworks and standards and taking a proactive approach will keep your organization protected.

With the rate of vulnerabilities growing and more and worsening attacks, it’s more important than ever to have a strategy in place for the identification, assessment, prioritization, remediation or mitigation, and ongoing monitoring of risk. CyCognito’s platform will transform how teams implement cybersecurity risk management strategies and will save crucial time and resources spent on cybersecurity risk management within your organization.

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CyCognito is solving one of the most fundamental business problems in cybersecurity: the need to understand how attackers view your organization, where they are most likely to break in, and how you can efficiently analyze, monitor and eliminate that risk.