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Cybersecurity and Managing the Risks

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According to Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report in February of 2019, web attacks have risen by 56%, and 4,800 websites are compromised with formjacking code each month. Enterprise ransomware is up by 12%, and mobile ransomware is up by 33%. Supplychain attacks have risen by 78%, and the percentage of users hit with malicious email – spam, phishing, and malware – continued to trend up in 2018. Managing your organization's cybersecurity is a constant challenge, as new and ever more sophisticated cyberattacks emerge on an almost daily basis. For that you need a cyber security plan. To implement your cybersecurity plan, you need to fully train staff at all levels on the identified risks and on the procedures and systems designed to mitigate those risks.

General Principles for Managing Cyber Risk

Evidence is in the headlines: the risk of cyber crime is growing, not only in quantity, but frequency, distribution and impact.Businesses are feeling the pressure, with 39% of companies considering data breaches as the second greatest potential threat to their reputation. All businesses face the risk of a cyber breach at some point during their life cycle, but understanding your risk level – and where the threats could come from – can go a long way to preparing an effective response. Whether you’re a small business or a multi-million dollar corporation, cybercrime could be lurking right around the corner.

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Why Creating a Cyber Risk Management Plan is Important

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A cyber risk management plan serves several functions, including:

• Determining the value of the company’s digital assets
• Assessing the status of the company’s cybersecurity
• Identifying and ranking potential cyber risks
• Creating a disaster plan to follow in case of attack
With a detailed cyber risk management plan, you will know how much and which data is at risk for cyber threats. You’ll also have a roadmap to follow to enact the necessary and appropriate cybersecurity measures.

The goal is to better protect your company’s digital data and infrastructure from the most likely and most costly potential cyber attacks. Developing a cyber risk management plan will help you protect your data and have a plan in place in case a breach occurs. ‍


Cyber risk commonly refers to any risk of financial loss, disruption or damage to the reputation of an organization resulting from the failure of its information technology systems. Cyber risk could materialize in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Deliberate and unauthorized breaches of security to gain access to information systems.
  • Unintentional or accidental breaches of security.
  • Operational IT risks due to factors such as poor system integrity.

Types of Cyber Risk

  • Financial
  • Reputational
  • Regulatory/Legal
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Your first step should be a risk assessment to understand what makes your business attractive to cyber criminals (customer data is likely to be your biggest commodity at risk) and where your main vulnerabilities lie.

Start with some basic questions, such as 'what information do we collect?', 'how do we store it?', and 'who has access to it?' You should then examine how you currently protect your data, and how you secure your computers, network, email and other tools

For example, consider whether you have a formal written policy for social media usage on any device (including employees' personal ones) that connects to your company network. Do you provide internet safety training for your workforce? Do you wipe all old machines of data before disposal? Do you require multi-factor authentication (more than one way of confirming a user's claimed identity) to access your network?

Defining Risk Management

FAIR defines risk management as ‘the combination of personnel, policies, processes, and technologies that enable an organization to cost-effectively achieve and maintain an acceptable level of loss exposure. A closer look at this definition reveals key take-aways:

• Cost Effectively: The responsibility of mature risk professionals is not simply to help their organizations to manage risk, but to manage it cost-effectively. Organizations compete on many levels, and if an organization is able to manage risk more cost-effectively than its competition, then it wins on that level.
• Achieving and Maintaining: Achieving an objective suggests that an objective exists. Maintaining a risk objective over time requires the ability to quantify and compare.
• An Acceptable Level of Loss Exposure: Adopting a risk assessment framework, predefined checklists and set of common practices is a form of implicit risk management and will not enable you to achieve a defined acceptable level of risk. Explicitly managing risk requires that one or more quantitative risk-based objectives exist.

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Building the Right Foundation

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The foundation required to achieve and maintain effective risk management is comprised of five elements.

• Cost-effective risk management: a program that meets the definition of risk management listed above.
• Well-informed decisions: every decision involves a choice, and in order for those to be well-informed
• Effective comparisons:a decision-maker has to be able to compare the options before him/her.
• Meaningful measurements: quantitative measurements in financial terms that all stakeholders can understand.
• Accurate models: accurate models of risk and of explicit risk management that can scale in real-life.

The OpenFAIR methodology was conceived as a way to provide meaningful measurements so that it could satisfy management’s desire to make effective comparisons and well-informed decisions. FAIR has become the only international standard Value at Risk (VaR) model for cybersecurity and operational risk.

Implementing an Effective Risk Management System

FAIR tells us that an effective risk management system is comprised of the following elements:

• Risk: a function of the threats, assets, controls and impact factors (e.g., laws, etc.) that drive loss exposure.
• Risk Management: comprised of decisions and execution. Those decisions are related to the risk governance that the organization decides to implement. What an organization actually gets in terms of risk is a function of execution within the context of those decisions
• Feedback Loop: feedback about the conditions of asset-level controls, metrics related to threat intelligence and losses, metrics regarding conditions that affect execution (e.g., awareness, capabilities) and root-cause analysis data.

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Why Aspire Tech

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Aspire's award-winning online course and programs are designed and taught by distinguished Cyber Security expert.

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