Cyberattacks have become commonplace across a variety of verticals —from big box stores to toymakers and even the federal government. Security staffers are feeling the pressure to ensure their company isn’t the next one splashed across the headlines.
While the urge to lock everything down tight is understandable, the need for network security must be balanced intelligently with growth and innovation. It’s a tall order and one that can’t be met without first performing a comprehensive threat assessment.
Threat assessments help organizations focus their security priorities. Rather than locking down every potential avenue of compromise – and along with it, every potential source of innovation and flexibility required by the business – they enable security staffers to take a more clear-eyed approach to risk management. This means security can both budget for maximum protection, and keep IT flexible enough to support new ways of doing business.
How does it work? Organizations with mature approaches to risk management follow four main threat assessment best practices. They identify the:
- Most critical assets: No company can protect everything, nor should they want to, since some assets – e.g., trade secrets, employees’ personally identifiable information (PII), credit card numbers, etc. – are far more valuable and present far more risk to the business than others. The first step is to evaluate all assets and then define those that are most critical, the so-called “crown jewels.”
- Threats to most critical assets: Once you know which assets to protect, you then need to understand the threats to that data. This requires understanding potential attackers and their motivations. For example, are they nation states looking to siphon off a competitive edge or simply bored “script kiddies” hoping for an easy score? Knowing who is likely to attack your assets and how helps clarify your security strategy.
- Mitigating controls. Once you understand the asset and the potential attack path, you must then map that to any security controls in place designed to mitigate the threat. This step includes knowing where critical data is stored and who has access, and how specific controls work together to keep data secure.
- Consequences of a successful attack. Once the critical assets, threats and mitigating controls are understood, organizations then need to quantify the risk of loss or compromise for those assets. What would be the business impact if an attack against your critical assets were successful? At this stage, it is helpful to bring in other stakeholders, such as business leaders, HR and finance to help clarify the discussion.
Focus security on your most critical assets
Mature organizations know they can’t protect everything, but by conducting comprehensive threat assessments, they can focus their efforts to protect their most critical assets from potential attack – all while ensuring the business stays flexible and innovative.
Infogressive offers threat assessments, CTAPs, where we proactively monitor your network, and provide a comprehensive risk assessment report that maps risks to your critical business processes. We then help you evaluate those risk and create a detailed, actionable mitigation plan.