Cybersecurity Risk Assessment: Components + How to Perform

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15th Feb, 2023
Cybersecurity Risk Assessment: Components + How to Perform

A cybersecurity risk assessment evaluates an organization's ability to protect its information and information systems from cyber threats. It identifies, assesses, and prioritizes cyber risks to information and systems that are in use by a company. An organization's cybersecurity risk assessment identifies, prioritizes, and communicates its cybersecurity risks to stakeholders, which allows them to make informed decisions about how to deploy resources. In cybersecurity risk management, threats are prioritized according to their potential impact. Organizations utilize cybersecurity risk management to identify, analyze, evaluate, and address the most critical threats as soon as possible. 

As a result, threats can be identified, analyzed, evaluated, and dealt with based on their potential impact.  You can all do this when you have good cyber security training. Information and information systems risks should be identified, assessed, and prioritized regardless of the approach taken by the organization. 

Who Should Perform a Cyber Risk Assessment?

A dedicated team within the organization should handle an organization's risk assessment. An assessment must include IT, staff with an understanding of your network and digital infrastructure, executives who understand how information flows, and any proprietary knowledge within your organization. In small businesses, there are likely not to be enough people in-house to perform a thorough assessment, and a third party will be required. In addition to monitoring cybersecurity scores, preventing breaches, and sending security questionnaires, organizations are also using cybersecurity software to reduce third-party risk. 

Cyber Security Audit Checklist

Data security and network environments have become increasingly complex and diverse in recent years. To ensure that a security system not only works properly for your organization, but is also safe and does not pose a security threat to your company and your data or the data of your customers, there are hundreds of pieces to it. They all need to be examined individually and collectively. 

Security Risk Assessment Model

Almost all companies do not even know the basics of cybersecurity. They don't know what they don't know about it. In addition to identifying security gaps at all levels, risk assessments also enable the detection and removal of high-level malware. The top security controls and prioritizing security risks also prevent unnecessary spending. 

1. Identification 

The basics of cybersecurity are simply unknown to many companies. Their knowledge of security gaps ranges from physical security to malware detection and removal. Risk assessments allow them to identify security gaps at all levels. By focusing on top security controls and prioritizing security risks, they also prevent unnecessary spending. 

2. Assessment 

The costs of the assessment cannot be compared to those of a breach that happens later. The HIPAA risk assessment chart demonstrates how companies can prioritize their security spending to minimize long-term costs. Many executives would not consider air conditioner maintenance a cyber security risk. Companies that act faster can be more cost-effective. 

3. Mitigation 

The effectiveness of a cyber security risk assessment report sample depends on their actionable recommendations for remediation activities. Assessment reports also need to explain how to secure systems by filling security gaps. Reports should also identify issues that seem problematic at first glance but that is so unlikely that they don't need to be addressed. 

4. Prevention 

Business is vulnerable to cybersecurity threats due to poor security practices among employees, and it can be patched via cybersecurity threat assessment. It becomes necessary to implement cyber security vulnerability assessment. Risk assessments help companies identify areas where employees should be trained to minimize future risks.  

Risk Assessment Components and Formula 

It is important to conduct a thorough risk assessment before making significant changes to your security. While assessing security can be done in a variety of ways, none of them are as effective as a comprehensive risk assessment, which considers all three elements of risk. 

Risk = Threat + Consequence + Vulnerability 

An effective security program, the likelihood of a threat, and the consequences of an unwanted criminal or terrorist event should all be considered when calculating risk in this formula. Here are some definitions to clarify how the formula works and what happens when any part of it is omitted. 

1. Threat 

An event that can adversely affect a critical asset through a criminal or terrorist act. There are many categories of critical assets, including people, property, monetary, continuity of operation, intellectual property, and reputation. People can be threatened by violence at work, with or without weapons.  

2. Determining the Threat Level

As part of the risk formula, you will analyze the history of security incidents and the nature of the business to determine the likelihood that an irate customer will attack the receptionist. The probability of physical attacks may increase if, for instance, the organization is a law firm dealing with foreclosures. The outsiders may become angry at the office when they lose a home.  

3. Cyber Vulnerability Assessment

A vulnerability can be defined as a weakness in a company's ability to protect vital assets against an attack. In a risk assessment, vulnerability is synonymous with susceptibility.  

4. Vulnerability or determining the effectiveness of security

When identifying a vulnerability, a basic understanding of what constitutes an effective physical security posture against common threats is necessary. In order to get the best results from a security risk assessment, it might be useful to engage a certified security professional, but it is not necessary. In order to avoid guesswork or unduly influence by vendors who are promoting products, organizations should take a systematic look at threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences. 

5. Consequences

In terms of consequences, they can be viewed as the degree to which an incident will negatively impact. The table below provides an example of how an organization might develop a consequence model to assess security risks. Despite the fact that the people safety consequence dimension is easily defined, the other consequence dimensions will need to be determined at the beginning of the security risk assessment because they are very personal to each organization. 

According to a consequence model for personnel injuries, fatalities, hospitalizations, lost time injuries, first aid, and no injuries are in order from most to least significant. A company's financial impact will require it to develop its model. For one company, $100,000 may be catastrophic to another, while for another, it may not be more than an insurance deductible. 

A threat assessment can be defined easily by translating threats against critical assets into a defined scenario for your organizational audience. You will assess the risk based on that scenario in your risk assessment. For example, “an angry customer in the lobby hurts a receptionist.”  

Threat Assessments 

If you want to simply determine whether criminals or terrorists may be interested in causing security problems at your organization, you could start with a threat assessment. This will focus primarily on the first part of the formula, as shown below. 

Risk = Threat + Consequence + Vulnerability 

6. Vulnerability Assessment

The US government mandates a number of counter-terrorism initiatives that are referred to as vulnerability assessments. Only two of the three elements of the risk formula will be considered in a vulnerability assessment. Considering that the threat level has reached the highest level, the organization will be forced to improve its security's effectiveness by reducing vulnerability and finding ways to reduce consequences, for example, by developing business continuity plans or enhancing emergency response procedures. In vulnerability assessments, incidents and threat levels are ignored, resulting in excessive security spending. 

Risk = Threat + Consequence + Vulnerability 

7. Business Impact Analysis

Another common methodology used in some organizations is business impact analysis, which involves identifying the most critical assets and building resilience around them, often in the form of business continuity plans. The full spectrum of risks might not be considered in Business Impact analyses, resulting in spending that would not otherwise be indicated. 

Risk = Threat + Consequence + Vulnerability 

8. Security Audits

As far as security audits are concerned, they are the easiest methodology to implement since they are simply a way of verifying that all security measures that are supposed to be in place are in place and working properly. Security audits will examine whether security measures are effective or if vulnerabilities are properly mitigated. Security audits have their place in analysis landscapes, but they are not risk assessments or likely to identify unknown vulnerabilities. 

Risk = Threat + Consequence + Vulnerability  

The security assessment methodology can be classified into several different types. Using the terms threat, vulnerability, and risk interchangeably or synonymously is impossible. Considering all three risk elements – threat, vulnerability, and consequence – is the most effective way to determine whether a security system is adequate. A risk assessment is the best approach if you are looking to determine whether your security measures are adequate and to avoid potential pitfalls such as failing to comply with the OSHA General Duty Clause or being sued for premises liability. 

How to Perform a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment [Step-by-Step]

Step 1: Determine Information Value

As part of a risk assessment, deciding what is included in the assessment is important. Generally, it is not feasible to evaluate the entire organization, so it is usually more practical to examine a single business unit, location or particular aspects of the business, such as payment processing or a web application. To understand which assets and processes are most important, identify risks, assess impacts, and define risk tolerance levels, all stakeholders whose activities are within the scope of the assessment need their full support.  

Step 2: Identify and Prioritize Assets

It is impossible to protect what you don't know, so the next step is to identify all physical and logical assets included in the risk assessment and create an inventory of them. The importance of identifying assets does not just lie in identifying those that are the organization's crown jewels and are likely to be the most targeted by attackers. In addition to identifying assets that attackers would like to control, such as Active Directory servers, picture archives, and communications systems, to expand an attack, attackers could also use these assets as pivot points.  

Step 3: Identify Cyber Threats

It is time to determine whether the risk scenarios can happen and what impact they would have on the organization. Cyber security assessment and management should focus on the discoverability, exploitability and reproducibility of threats and vulnerabilities rather than historical occurrences to determine risk likelihood -- the probability that a threat can exploit a given vulnerability. A cybersecurity threat has a dynamic nature, meaning its likelihood does not necessarily correlate with previous occurrences as floods or earthquakes do.  

Step 4: Identify Vulnerabilities

The following cyber security risk assessment matrix can classify each risk scenario. For a cyber security risk assessment example, let's assume that  a SQL injection attack might be classified as "Likely" or "Highly Likely" if the likelihood of the attack is "Likely" or "Highly Likely." 

The organization should prioritize treatment for any scenario that exceeds its agreed-upon risk tolerance level.  

Step 5: Analyze Controls and Implement New Controls

Risk Identification in cyber security and cyber security evaluation minimize or eliminate the risk of vulnerability or threat. Technology can be used to implement controls, such as hardware and software, encryption, intrusion detection, two-factor authentication, automatic updates, continuous data leak detection, or nontechnical means, such as security policies and physical mechanisms. Preventative controls work to prevent attacks by encrypting, using antivirus programs, or monitoring continuous security.  

Step 6: Calculate the Likelihood and Impact of Various Scenarios on a Per-Year Basis

Following a thorough understanding of the value of information, threats, vulnerabilities and controls, the next step is to identify how likely these cyber risks are to occur and the impact they will have. You can use these inputs to determine how much to spend to mitigate each of your identified cyber risks, not just whether you might encounter one of these events at some point but also how likely it is to succeed.  

Step 7: Prioritize Risks Based on the Cost of Prevention Vs. Information Value

Consider the risk level as a basis for determining actions that senior management or other responsible individuals should take to mitigate the risk. The following guidelines can help: 

  1. The high - quick development of corrective measures 
  2. Medium - In a reasonable period of time, the correct measures are developed 
  3. Low - Consider accepting or mitigating the risk when the risk is low 

Step 8: Document Results from Risk Assessment Reports

In order to ensure that management is always aware of its cybersecurity risks, it is essential to document all identified risk scenarios in a risk register and store them in a cybersecurity risk assessment report sample. The items in the plan should be Risk scenario, Identification date, Existing security controls, Current risk level, and Treatment plan -- the activities and timelines to reduce the risk to an acceptable level.  

Cyber Security Risk Assessment Template (Sample)

1. IT Security Risk Assessment Policy 

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As a result of the use of information and technology within an organization, IT security risks arise. In order to ensure that these risks are managed properly in time, an assessment policy is put into place. The IT Security Risk Assessment Policy template can be downloaded if you are interested in creating a policy of this sort for your organization. 

2. IT Security Risk Assessment Template

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Employees need to possess the ability to assess risks. Such assessments are particularly great for IT risks as they need more attention. Using this template, you can assess your organization's IT risks. Developed solely for this purpose, this template can help you assess your organization's IT risks. 

3. IT Security Risk Assessment Plan Template

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No matter what kind of security risk it is, it is important to manage and assess it properly. It is easier to manage and assess IT risks if you have a security risk assessment plan in place. This template will make this cyber risk assessment process easier for you. Just click the download icon, and you're done. 

4. Common Cyber Security Risk Assessment Template Excel

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Organizations using any type of technology and information face IT risks. In general, these risks vary from company to company. On the other hand, the Common IT Security Risk Assessment Template can be used to assess common security risks. This PDF template is an easy way to assess your company's IT risks. 

5. Corporate Security Risk Assessment

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Security in the corporate context refers to ensuring the safety and security of all the company's assets. A sample risk assessment template is the best tool for assessing your organization's corporate security risks. Click the download icon now to get it! This includes your employees, IT assets, physical resources, etc. 

6. Recommendation IT Risk Assessment Template

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Organizations must conduct risk assessments. Failure to follow this step could end up killing the company because the risks could lead to serious problems that are too late to address. Using this template, you can make a risk assessment for your organization and eliminate this risk. 

7. IT Security Risk Assessment in PDF

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Is your organization in need of a security risk assessment? We are offering you this sample risk assessment template so you can assess your company's IT risks without this assessment. Without this assessment, you would be unable to identify what is causing problems in your IT department. 

8. Professional IT Security Risk Assessment

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There is an increase in cybercrime nowadays. This Professional IT Security Risk Assessment template will protect your cyber network. 

9. Quantitative IT Security Risk Assessment

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Each company conducts an IT risk assessment. The method used varies, however. It is possible to carry out risk assessments quantitatively or qualitatively. If you prefer to use the quantitative method, you may wish to use our security risk assessment template. This template was developed to assist you in completing such risk assessments. 

10. Fundamental IT Security Risk Assessment

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Think about it: you are tasked with assessing your company's security risks. You don't know how to evaluate this kind of risk. This is why we built the risk assessment template to help you in such a situation. Download this template today to make the perfect risk assessments tailored to your company's needs. 

11. IT Security Self and Risk Assessment Template

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You can download a sample security risk assessment report file with the IT Security Self and Risk Assessment Template. It has a well-written header and content that is original and suggestive. This template can be used as a guide to conduct a proper IT risk assessment. 

Types of Cyber Risk Management Frameworks

NIST Cyber Assessment Framework and ISO 27000 standards are two broader cybersecurity frameworks based on your industry or region. You can opt for the CEH v12 training online and have a more detailed insight about these two standards: 

1. NIST Cybersecurity Framework

  1. In addition to identifying, detecting, protecting, responding, and recovering, the NIST framework addresses the following essential aspects of cybersecurity.  
  2. This comprehensive set of guidelines was originally developed to assist organizations that deal with critical infrastructure. Still, many enterprise-level organizations are now utilizing and applying it to their own cybersecurity efforts. 

2. ISO 27000

  1. In addition to ISO 27000, which is one of a growing family of Information Security Management Systems standards, other international organizations use this framework.  
  2. An organization's internal and third-party information is covered by this framework developed by The International Organizations for Standards. 
  3. Since it is a living document, it constantly evolves to meet new information needs and provide ongoing guidance.  

3. DoD RMF

  1. The RMF emphasizes continuous monitoring, promotes reciprocity to the greatest extent possible, and takes a risk-based approach to cybersecurity implementation. 
  2. RMF has replaced the DoD Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation Process (DIACAP). 

4. FAIR Framework

  1. Organizations can analyze, measure, and understand risk using FAIR, a risk management framework championed by the open group.  
  2. By identifying and defining a risk model, the FAIR model breaks down risk by evaluating factors contributing to IT risk and how they impact each other. 
  3. The most common use of FAIR is to estimate how frequently and in what magnitude data losses occur. 
  4. In addition to information security programs and existing cyber security risk analysis processes, the framework enhances an overall analysis and complements them.  
  5. In order to better analyze and predict cybersecurity risks, FAIR discusses operational risk concepts. 

Best Practices for Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

1. Build Cybersecurity into the Enterprise Risk Management Framework

Develop an enterprise risk management framework for analyzing and classifying enterprise risks, which will serve as the organizing principle for your risk-based cybersecurity program. This approach focuses on cyber risk management as a business risk rather than a general guideline. Businesses can better understand cyber risk management by framing cyber risk as a business risk. 

2. Identify Value-Creating Workflows

Consider the potential impact of crucial workflows as they can pose a significant risk and identify those that generate the greatest business value. Payment processes, for example, create value and present business risks since they can be subject to fraud and data leakage. Define the components of each process (data assets, cyber security risk assessment tools, teams) so that your cybersecurity team knows which processes are valuable for your organization. It is more effective to apply the recommended controls when cybersecurity and business personnel are involved in collaboration than when maturity-based approaches are taken. 

3. Prioritize Cyber Risks

Based on the cost of prevention and the value of information, you should determine your risk level to inform your risk management and mitigation procedures. Those with higher risks should be addressed as soon as possible, while those with lower risks can be addressed down the road or tolerated. Protecting an asset is not worthwhile if the expense exceeds its value unless the risk could be detrimental to your reputation. 

4. Implement Ongoing Risk Assessments

To keep pace with evolving cybersecurity threats and solutions, identify and assess risk in a continuous, adaptive, and actionable manner. Cybersecurity teams rely on actionable insights from risk assessments to secure digital environments and assets. Remediate cyber security gap analysis should be regular. 


It is common for organizations to collect some level of personally identifiable information (PII) or health information about their clients and customers when conducting business operations. Our partners, clients, and customers provide this information to us. It is considered confidential information to disclose social security numbers, tax identification numbers, dates of birth, license numbers, passport details, and medical history. This can be learned in more detail through knowledgehHut cyber security courses, which one can find online. 

Several laws, regulations, and standards require organizations that create, store, or transmit confidential data to conduct a risk assessment. HIPAA, PCI-DSS, the Massachusetts General Law Chapter 93H 201 CMR 17.00 regulation, the Sarbanes-Oxley Audit Standard 5, and FISMA are among the governing bodies that require security risk assessments. 


Mrinal Prakash

Blog Author

I am a B.Tech Student who blogs about various topics on cyber security and is specialized in web application security

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1What should risk analysis include?

Identifying potential threats and estimating their impact and the likelihood that they will materialize are the first steps in a Risk Analysis. Many details are involved in conducting a risk analysis, including a cyber security risk management plan, financial data, security protocols, marketing forecasts, and others. Although it can be difficult, it's an important planning tool that can help save money, time, and reputation.

2How often should you perform a risk assessment in cybersecurity?

A comprehensive enterprise security risk assessment should be conducted at least every two years to explore the risks associated with an organization's information systems. Enterprise security risk assessments provide only a snapshot of the risks associated with the information systems at a given moment. Security risk assessments should be conducted more frequently, if not continuously, for mission-critical information systems.

3What is a risk assessment example?

In an underground gold mine, a manager is conducting a risk assessment among drillers. Several drillers developed lung problems after working in the mine for some time, and the owner realizes that safety and health practices need to improve.

4What is a Cybersecurity Assessment Tool?

To quickly assess your organization's security status and make recommendations based on facts, Cybersecurity Assessment Tool (CSAT) was created by seasoned security experts. Using the tool, you can scan endpoints, Active Directory, Microsoft 365 and Azure for relevant security data from the hybrid IT environment. The CSAT also collects information on organizational policies, control measures, and other key indicators using a questionnaire.

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