February 22, 2022

How to measure anything in cybersecurity risk

Bones Ijeoma

CEO and co-founder

Cybersecurity risks controls and vulnerability are often used to describe the same thing, but they are not the same thing.

More businesses and organizations are at risk of being hacked now than there have ever been before. Then, it’s not easy to figure out how much risk there is. Here, we’ll give you a quick look at some of the most common ways to measure cybersecurity risk, as well as a look at what could be the future: statistical analysis.

Cybersecurity risk measures how likely it is that your company will lose data, finances, or online business operations because of a cyber attack. Breaches, ransomware, phishing, and malware are some of the most common cybersecurity threats that most businesses will have to deal with at some point.

When a cyberattack happens, the costs can be very high. Sometimes, the costs are so high that the business can’t run at all. People lost $2.9 million to cybercrime every minute in 2020, and the average cost of a data breach was $3.86 million. You need to know how to predict cybersecurity risk so that you can protect your business from future attacks and the financial costs that come with them.

How Do You Measure Cybersecurity Risk?

Cybersecurity risks controls and vulnerability are often used to describe the same thing, but they are not the same thing. A vulnerability is a weakness that allows someone to get into the network without permission if they use it. A cyber risk is the chance that a vulnerability will be used. IN order to figure out how much risk there is in cyberspace, many people use this simple framework:

Cyber Risk = Threat x Vulnerability x Information Value

Vulnerability assessments are usually the first step in figuring out how much cybersecurity risk there is. A vulnerability assessment is a detailed look at the security flaws in an information system in a way that is very careful. It checks to see if your system is vulnerable to any known flaws, assigns a severity level to them, and suggests how to fix or mitigate them.

People who do risk vulnerability assessments look at three things:

  • What is the danger?
  • How safe is the system?
  • It could hurt the system’s reputation or make it hard to make money if it is breached or not working.

After you do a vulnerability assessment to find and priorities your flaws, you would usually do a cyber risk assessment to figure out how important and dangerous your information and threats are in the equation above. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), cyber risk assessments are assessments that help businesses and other organizations figure out what risks they face from using information systems. Risk assessment cybersecurity assessments help businesses and other organizations figure out what risks they face from using information systems.

The cybersecurity risk assessment services is to look at your cybersecurity risks and tell stakeholders and decision-makers about them, as well as help you respond to them in the right way. As part of a cybersecurity risk assessment tools, an executive summary is also provided to help stakeholders make smart decisions about security. It doesn’t matter if your organisation hires someone to do the work for you or if you use your own team of security experts to measure cyber risk. It’s likely that your risk will be calculated in the traditional “High-Medium-Low” way. People who work in security say that using these “unproven” qualitative methods can cause forecasting inconsistencies of up to 20%. Instead, they say that statistical analysis can be used to measure cybersecurity risk. When you use the High-Medium-Low method to measure cybersecurity risk, these are the steps you would take to make sure you did a good job.

  • Make sure the information is worth what you pay for it to be

Before you start this step, set a standard for how important an asset is. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on information of cyber security risk management, you should only look at the assets that are most important to your business. As soon as you add the standard to your organization’s information risk management policy, you should use it to classify each piece of information as critical, important, or not so important. Identify and put assets in order. Identify your assets and set the scope of the study. This will help you figure out which assets you should look at first. If you have a lot of assets, you don’t need to look at them all. Not all assets are worth the same amount of money.

  • Find out about cyber threats

A cyber threat is a weakness that could be used to harm your business or steal your data. It is easy to think of hackers and malware as obvious risks to IT security, but there are also natural disasters and system failures as well as human error and other threats from third-party vendors. There are threats to every business, such as unauthorized access, misuse of information by people who have the right to see it, data leaks, lost data, and service downtime. After you figure out the threats your company faces, you need to figure out how they will affect it.

  • Identify the flaws

Now that you’ve thought about what might happen, you need to think about what might happen. What are you afraid of? A vulnerability is a weakness that a threat can use to get into your security, harm your business, or steal important data. Using vulnerability analysis, audit reports and the NIST vulnerability database, you can find yours. You can also use vendor data, incident response teams, and software security analysis to find yours. This is the time to look for both software-based and physical flaws during this step.

  • Analyze and put in place new controls

To figure out what controls are already in place to reduce or eliminate the risk of a threat or vulnerability, find out what they are. To add new security measures, you can use technical or non-technical methods. For example, you can use hardware, software, encryption, intrusion detection mechanisms, multi-factor authentication, automatic updates, and continuous data leak detection (security policies, physical mechanisms like locks or keycard access, and so forth). Controls can be preventive or detective. Preventive controls are meant to stop attacks, while detective controls are meant to find out when an attack has taken place.

  • Each year, figure out how likely and how bad different things could happen

Now you know how important the information is, how it can be used, and how to protect yourself. Next, figure out how likely it is that these cyber risks will happen, and how bad they could be if they did. Then, you can use your findings to figure out how much money to spend on preventing each cyber risk.

  • Keep track of the results of risk assessment reports

Finally, write a risk assessment report to help managers make decisions about budget, policies, and procedures. Each threat has a risk, vulnerability, and value, as well as the impact and likelihood of it happening, as well as what you can do to avoid it.

Cybersecurity Risk and Statistics

Statistical analysis is the art and science of collecting, analyzing, and presenting a lot of data to find hidden patterns and trends that can help us make sense of the world. Statistical analysis may seem like the obvious way to measure cyber risk, but it’s not the traditional way to do it. When Richard Seiersen, a former GE Healthcare cybersecurity and privacy manager and the CISO at Twillo, wants to answer the question of how to measure cybersecurity risk, he thinks he can do it in a simple way.

In his new book, “How to Measure Anything in Cybersecurity,” Seiersen and his co-author, Douglas Hubbard, say that risk management should be done with probabilistic thinking and programming, which is also known as statistical analysis. People have used statistical analysis for a long time to figure out how much risk there is for other things. This is what Seiersen says:

“Risks have been looked at in far more complicated situations like flooding and droughts.”

But when it comes to using statistical analysis to measure cybersecurity risk, the question is how to do it. The first step is to convince security professionals who aren’t sure that statistical analysis is a good way to measure cyber risk. Research shows that people who aren’t very good at math aren’t very likely to be against more quantitative cybersecurity methods, like statistical analysis. Security professionals who don’t know how to read and understand statistics are the most likely to doubt the untapped power of statistical analysis. Assigning probability, or figuring out how likely it is that certain risks will be taken advantage of, sounds more complicated than it is.

Cybersecurity risks example

For example, someone who has access to sensitive information is more likely to be hacked than someone who works as an intern. You should not rule out that other accounts could be hacked, but statistical analysis shows that the system administrator’s account has the most risk. Mathematical techniques like statistical analysis can be used to figure out how likely it is that the system administrator’s account will be hacked: “The probability that the system administrator’s account will be hacked is X percent.” In their book, Seiersen and Hubbard talk about a lot of different statistical theories, like Bayesian statistics, that could be used instead of risk matrices that are made up of words.

Using Bayesian statistics, the probability of an event is a measure of how much you believe it will happen. This could be based on things you already know about the event, or on your own personal beliefs about the event. All of these methods, Seiersen and Hubbard say, are good ways to measure cybersecurity risk, but they say that if you use statistical analysis, you will get more accurate predictions for your business. Finally, the authors say that organizations should stop using risk scores and risk matrices at all, and standards groups should stop promoting them.

Instead, they suggest using simple probabilistic methods because they show a real difference over unaided intuition, and because they have already worked. They also think that if risks and mitigation strategies were measured in a more meaningful way with the help of statistical analysis, it would be easier to make decisions about how to deal with them. The authors of this text say that “softer methods never solve problems of lack of data, complexity, rapid changes in environments, or unpredictable human actors; they can only hide them.” There is no doubt that statistical analysis is the best way to measure cybersecurity risk over traditional methods that are more subjective. As complicated and hard as it is, it is still a long and complicated process. As a good thing, there are software solutions that can help your organization use statistical analysis to accurately calculate cybersecurity risk and report it to the boardroom.