3 Ways to Quantify Cybersecurity Risk


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There’s no way around it: every business encounters cybersecurity risk. From the apps your employees use to suspicious email links, there are threats lurking in every corner of the interweb. 

It’s a good idea to quantify your risk level objectively so you can track your risks over time. Plus, if you’re trying to explain technical issues to non-technical people, a quantifiable score is the easiest way to explain risk in terms of money. 

Think about it this way: when you quantify your risk, you’re allowing other stakeholders to understand the importance of security while building your case for budget allocation and resources. You’re helping your boss and your board recognize why and when to prioritize mediation or response. You know that you can’t fight every fire, so quantification translates risk into money so that everyone understands why you’re doing what you’re doing (as well as why you’re not).

Let’s look at why you’d want to quantify cybersecurity risks and a few expert tricks to do it the right way. 

What is Cyber Risk and Why Should I Quantify It? 

With cyber risk quantification, you’re looking at the potential damage to your IT infrastructure and digital assets in monetary terms. It uses modeling and statistics to see how damaging — and how likely — a threat could be to your business. 

Cyber risk quantification looks at all of the assets in your business and assigns them a score based on their expected business impact. 

According to IBM’s Cost of Data Breach report, each year companies spend more and more to mitigate damage from these breaches. Whether it’s a hack, a data breach, or a natural disaster, cyber risk quantification helps you make plans to counteract security problems in your business. It might feel like an extra step, but cyber risk quantification will help you: 

  • Communicate: Have you tried explaining cyber risks to your CFO, but they just don’t seem to get it? Instead of telling them that everything is urgent — or red — show them the impact to the business for specific problems so they’ll understand budget requests for much-needed improvements.
  • Benchmark: If you’re normally at a risk level of two, but lately you’re at a four, that should tell you something is up. By quantifying the risk factors facing your business, you can benchmark against yourself so you know what’s normal. That makes it much easier to spot big, expensive problems down the line. 
  • Add business context: Your business is different than any other, right? So make sure you’re explaining quantification in terms that your business understands and how each risk impacts that business (whether monetarily or through downtime or other terms important to your organization).
  • Prioritize resources: Very few organizations have the time, personnel, and funds to tackle all of their cybersecurity risks at once. By rating your risks quantitatively, you can focus your energy on the most pressing issues first. 

3 Ways to Quantify Cyber Risk

Cyber risk quantification is a must if you want to streamline your operations and get everyone in your business on board. Follow these three tips to successful risk quantification in your organization.

1. Identify all assets

First things first, what assets does your business have? Where are they? Do an audit with your team so you can see what you own. You can’t protect a file if you don’t know about it. You’ve got to take inventory of every digital asset in your business so you can calculate its risk level. For example, if you have old data in the cloud that you don’t know about, you can’t defend it, and that’s a risk.

2. Pick a risk quantification model

Traditionally, organizations measured cyber risk on a “low, medium, high” scale. But what’s “medium” to you might not be “medium” to your CEO. Plus, if you have 20 “medium” risks, that doesn’t really help you figure out what order you should follow to tackle those issues, anyway.

That said, when considering risk management, you need to pick a quantification framework that makes the most sense for your organization. There are already plenty of options out there, including the FAIR™ model and the DREAD model, if you want something pre-made. 

Once you pick your model, you can begin to work with your risk register. Start by collecting data, analyzing risks, and developing different scenarios using your favorite model. 

To make your first quantifiable risk, pick data that you know already exists and a risk with a high likelihood. Then, you’re ready to run your first assessment, focusing on an evolution rather than immediate perfection.

You can use a scale to help you quantify the risk level for every asset and the likelihood that it would actually happen. It’s also a good idea to create some kind of rubric for every level so you can assign scores in a more consistent way. 

3. Make mitigation plans

At this point, you know how much your assets are at risk. You need to take action on the most pressing, five-alarm risks first. When you need approval for the next steps, put together a report detailing all the suggested actions you want to take for the most important problems. 

The key is to make sure that everyone is sharing the same information and that understanding of the internal plan is the same from the top down. Once you have that, you can show the cost difference between fixing the issue now versus fixing it after things go sideways — they’re much more likely to cut a check if they can see the cost savings.

It’s Time to Automate Cyber Risk Quantification

Gartner estimates that by 2023, 30% of a CISO’s effectiveness will be determined by their ability to create value for their company. Risk quantification is a great way to start showing that value. 

Of course, quantification is just the first stepping stone. From here, you need to take action on the problems you find in your business. LogicGate’s Risk Cloud Quantify® can make sure that everyone is speaking the same language when it comes to cyber risk. Ask to see a demo to learn how Risk Cloud Quantify can help your business.

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