While the term “cyber risk” may appear to be self-explanatory, it is not always well defined and might signify various things to different individuals. However, at its most basic level, cyber risk is the danger of an organization suffering damage as a result of its computer systems. According to PwC, “cyber risk is any risk connected with financial loss, interruption, or harm to an organization’s reputation as a result of failure, unauthorized, or erroneous usage of its computer systems.”

The cyber danger might manifest itself in a variety of ways. Cybercrime, cyber terrorism, corporate espionage, poor vendor and other third-party security measures, and insider threats are all causes of cyber risk. These threats can take several forms, such as ransomware or phishing assaults.

There are two sorts of cyber risks: external and internal

External cyber risk

External cyber risk refers to any threat that originates outside of your business or its extended ecosystem. When you think about cyber risk, you could think of cyberattacks, phishing, ransomware, DDoS assaults, or any other attack that originates from the outside world.

Internal cyber risk: malevolent or unintentional

Although external threats are frightening, almost half of cyber danger originates within the home. According to Forrester, 46 percent of breaches in 2019 included insiders such as workers and third-party partners.

When you consider internal cyber risk, you may imagine hostile insiders. Employees gone bad are a source of cyber risk; over half of the internal breaches observed by Forrester in 2019 were the result of misuse or malicious intent. Insiders’ harmful intent, on the other hand, is decreasing, falling from 57 percent in 2018 to 48 percent in 2019. That’s both good and bad news: although malicious intent is decreasing, employee and third-party errors are increasing.

Mistakes, such as incorrectly configured Amazon Web Services buckets, servers, unpatched software, and other vulnerabilities, are a serious source of security danger for a company. Mistakes committed by an employee who hasn’t been taught good cyber hygiene can frequently expose your firm to external danger.


There are four critical stages to follow:

Determine the dangers.

Examine the dangers

Determine potential mitigating measures.

Determine what to do about the remaining danger.

One of the most difficult tasks is at the very first step: risk identification. Because cybersecurity is an ever-changing industry, risk detection is a shifting goal. Nonetheless, a fundamental methodology has emerged that all risk identification approaches tend to adhere to:

Recognize your assets; Recognize the dangers to those assets:

Determine your susceptibility to these dangers.

Recognizing assets

To evaluate your cyber risk exposure, you must first identify your assets. This is not as simple as it appears: you cannot safeguard everything, therefore you must define the assets that must be protected, as well as their priorities.

A set of questions may be useful in clarifying the situation:

What types of data do you keep at your company?

Whose information is it?

Yours? Is it someone else’s?

What would happen if something occurred to this data?

That final question brings us to the CIA – not the Central Intelligence Agency (though they are interested in such things as well), but rather the core triangle of cybersecurity: confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

The CIA triangle directs you in asking the following basic security-related questions about your data assets:

What would happen if the data was leaked or made public (confidentiality)?

What would happen if the data were wrong or fabricated (integrity)?

What would happen if the data could no longer be accessed (availability)?

Some examples:

You are a credit card firm, and the numbers and personal identification codes of your clients have been hacked and released (confidentiality);

You are a bank, and a hacker inserts a zero to the sums in bank transfers (integrity);

You work at a hospital, and a ransomware assault prevents you from accessing your patients’ medical records (availability).

The CIA triangle assists you in identifying the assets you need to safeguard by understanding the type of damage that might occur if they are compromised. But who is to blame for the compromise? Or what? This brings us to the following point.

Detecting Threats

Threat analysis entails identifying possible sources of harm to the assets (information, data) that must be protected.

The world is full of hazards, and the distinction between meaningful “cyber threats” and other types of threats will always remain hazy. Although hacking is a cyber hazard, natural conditions like floods and fire may also endanger your data. You must determine how relevant they are to your circumstance.

Business-related risks are even more ambiguous in terms of their relation to cybersecurity. Equipment failure, such as cracked disks, might jeopardize your data. Supply-chain security is a growing cause of concern: can you be certain that your suppliers are not purposefully or unintentionally transferring malware to you? Insider risks, such as those posed by angry or idealistic workers (or former employees) who decide to steal or leak your data, are another major source of worry.

Some of these concerns may not appear to be tied to cybersecurity, yet the link might be subtle. As is always the case, experience is essential for spotting hazards and effectively prioritizing them.

Even if the dangers are tied to cybersecurity, you will need to fine-tune your threat identification. A cybersecurity danger, for example, is hacking by a remote malevolent user. But what type of hacking are we talking about? A “denial of service” attack will prevent you from accessing your data (making it unavailable). A ransomware assault will accomplish the same thing (and make you pay in the process). A malware assault might install a program that reads your typing and steals your personal information. Professional analysts’ experience is also essential for proper identification in this case.

Identifying Vulnerabilities

Once the threats have been discovered, the following step is to identify any holes in your entire cybersecurity environment that may expose you to those attacks.

It is not always easy to discover flaws, as well as their causes and solutions. How, for example, may you be subject to insider threats? Certainly, by terminating or dismissing an employee in control of sensitive data. However, you may be vulnerable due to a lack of employee cybersecurity awareness: perhaps your employees choose weak passwords inadvertently (recall that this is how the famous Enigma code was broken during WWII) or are not sufficiently aware of the dangers of opening attachments to electronic mail messages.

The Identification of Assets, Threats, and Vulnerabilities Cycle

As previously said, assessing your organization’s cyber risk exposure is one of the most difficult issues in the whole risk management process. This is because cybersecurity is always changing.

As a result, it is critical to be a part of a cybersecurity community in which occurrences and responses are regularly documented and shared with others. This is the goal of numerous global and national projects aimed at establishing well-known centers of knowledge and repositories to which companies may resort for fresh information and offer their own experience. In Europe, for example, the NIS Directive mandated the formation of Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs) in the Member States. These CSIRTs assist businesses in becoming aware of new risks as they emerge and taking necessary action. That is only one of several projects and centers available to you, as well as one purpose of cyberwatching. The EU’s goal is to educate you on the broad panorama of cyber information sources.

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