4 Steps to Developing a Cyber Risk Management Plan

The average company has more than a half-million sensitive files, including customer information, employee records, and other internal documents. All of this sensitive data is susceptible to theft or access from unauthorized users. The annual worldwide cost of cybercrime is estimated to reach 5 trillion dollars by 2024, with the average cost of a data breach exceeding $150 million.

The most effective way to guard against data breaches and attacks is to create a detailed cyber risk management plan. This plan will evaluate your current data security and serve as a guide for better protecting your organization’s irreplaceable data assets.

Why Creating a Cyber Risk Management Plan is Important

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.

How to Develop Your Cyber Risk Management Plan

The person or team that develops your company’s cyber risk management plan must have a deep-rooted knowledge and understanding of your organization’s data and network infrastructures. They should also be able to offer an honest assessment of your current situation.

1. Perform a Data Audit

It’s important to detail what data your company collects, where that data is stored (on-site or in the cloud), and who can access that data. For this reason, the first step in developing a cyber risk management plan is to identify all relevant digital assets, including:

  • Stored data, including both customer and employee records
  • Software and applications
  • Intellectual property

The audit should also estimate the costs that will be incurred if sensitive data is breached. These costs should include not just the raw cost of the data or software, but also any potential revenue lost during the breach, legal expenses, and quantifiable damage to the company’s reputation. According to Radware, 54% of companies reported operational/productivity loss after a data breach, 43% suffered from negative customer experiences, and 37% saw a loss in their brand reputation.

2. Perform a Security Assessment

The next step in the process is to examine the present condition of your organization’s data security. This assessment should include detailed analyses of the following:

  • Hardware infrastructure, including notebooks, servers, printers, and portable devices.
  • Network infrastructure and security, including the age and condition of key hardware.
  • Storage infrastructure, including current and future storage capabilities.
  • Authentication methods and access policies, focusing on how data is accessed and by whom.

It’s also important to conduct a frank appraisal of what elements of your IT infrastructure might be the most susceptible to internal or external attacks. The goal is to discover any weaknesses in your current data security system so that they can be eliminated.

3. Perform a Threat Assessment

Next, you need to assess all known threats to your organization’s systems and data. Malicious actors might want to steal customer data, disrupt your business operations, or just damage your firm’s reputation. Some cybercriminals are only interested in money. A study from the Ponemon Institute reveals that 54% of threats come from employee mistakes. This is more than external hackers (30%) and malicious insiders (21%) combined. 

As part of the threat assessment, it’s essential to ask and answer the following questions:

  • Who might want to breach or attack your system and data assets?
  • Why might those entities want to access your data?
  • How might attackers try to breach your system?

The threat assessment should not just identify, but also prioritize all of these potential threats. You need to know which threats are most probable and which could have the biggest financial impact on your company so you can pay extra attention to those high-priority threats.

4. Create a Disaster Recovery Plan

Finally, your cyber risk management plan needs to detail what happens in the event of a data breach or attack. This means developing a disaster recovery plan for your data and IT assets.

The goal of this part of the larger document is to provide direction for your staff on how to return your operations to normal as quickly as possible after an attack. This plan should include detailed instructions for:

  • Identifying attacks in progress
  • Stopping ongoing attacks
  • Bringing affected systems back online
  • Recovering lost or damaged data
  • Restoring any compromised systems or applications

Beyond the Plan

Your organization needs to develop a detailed cyber risk management plan, but your data security efforts shouldn’t stop there. Even the best of plans can fail if they aren’t accepted by management or communicated throughout all levels of the organization. You need to get buy-in from senior management and educate your employees on your new data security policies. Everyone in your organization must develop the proper cybersecurity mindset and guard against the most likely cyber risks. You should also examine the security of your company’s internal and external communications. We encourage you to consider including AWS Wickr as part of your security solution. It’s a secure communications platform that employs end-to-end encryption for ultimate cybersecurity and will fit well with your company’s overall cyber risk management plan.