Cybersecurity remains to be a serious threat online. Despite all technological innovations, hackers and scammers continue to adapt and develop their ploys to obtain valuable information from you, requiring you to routinely conduct security assessment to your network.
Cyberattacks have evolved throughout the years. Even with all the protection tools and software you have, threats can come in many forms, effectively bypassing your defenses. In fact, a report by Accenture reveals that organizations experience an average of 22 security breaches every year.
To ensure your network remains safe and secure, you should make security assessments mandatory and frequent. These are periodic exercises that test your network’s preparedness against possible breaches. It checks for vulnerabilities in your systems and business processes, as well as identifies effective measures against potential risks. This way, your systems and policies remain up to date to the ever changing landscape of cybersecurity.
With that, here are some tips on conducting a regular security assessment of your network.
1. Evaluate your network’s resources
Security assessment is essentially an audit on your network’s capacity to fight against cyberattacks. This is where you check your installed protection software, firewalls, and even internal protocols in case of breaches.
It is best to start off your assessment by creating a network security assessment checklist as a guide. It keeps stock of all your networks, devices, data, and applications, so that you have an idea of which ones you need to assess. This can also help you prioritize which ones are the most critical.
After all, security assessment can be time-consuming. You might not have the time to perform an assessment on every wireless network, web application, and Wi-Fi access point within your organization. With a checklist, you can be methodical and strategic with your security assessment.
2. Identify potential threats
Nowadays, threats can disguise themselves as something as innocuous as an email. Other times, you’re not even aware that someone is already spoofing your IP address. It is important then that you are up to date with the various ways hackers and scammers can get into your system. In this way, you know how to protect your network from these attacks.
Knowing what you’re up against makes it easier for you to create plans and measures for protection. There are different ways your network’s security can be compromised. Aside from malicious intentions, it might come from natural disasters and hardware failures. And each of these threats have their own preventions and remedies.
This part of the assessment would often require expert knowledge and understanding on cybersecurity and the risks it posts. Arm yourself with sufficient research on possible threats and how these can be avoided in the future.
3. Determine your vulnerabilities
Threats aren’t the only things that can harm your organization. Your own vulnerabilities can come biting back if left unattended for so long. These can be in the form of weak firewalls, unsecured internet access points, unencrypted data, and the lack of protection tools and software for your network.
Thus, one of the methods of a network security assessment is to scan your network for vulnerabilities. This helps you determine all your weak and blind spots which hackers and scammers can take advantage of.
By being aware of where your system lacks, you can put extra layers of protection on parts where it needs the most. For example, some individuals and business use VPN services software for security purposes each time they connect to the internet. This added line of defense ensures that all bases are covered, and no vulnerabilities are overlooked.
4. Assess and prioritize impact
With so many things to consider when it comes to security assessment, it is important that you get your priorities straight. This is where you must rate and review threats and vulnerabilities and determine those with the biggest impact on your organization.
Determine which ones could deal some serious consequences to you, to your organization or to your customers when exploited. This helps you know which assets to focus on and which ones you can set aside for the time being. You can label them using “high”, “medium”, or “low” risks based on severity and estimated cost.
One way to determine the gravity of the impact is by identifying the critical stakeholders and how it could affect them. The impact could be in monetary terms, loss of clients, loss of credibility, and invasion of privacy. Identify acceptable thresholds within your organization and find a compromise on which ones should be prioritized.
5. Calculate likelihood of attacks
A healthy dose of paranoia is alright, but too much can also be a hindrance. As a result, you might be too afraid to take advantage of what the digital age has to offer and be left behind by the rest of the world.
And while cyber threats are real, their probability may vary. This depends on what kind of attack or threat there is. For one, those with enough layers of protection into their network might expect less chances of breaches than those with lesser protocols in place. Likewise, those that exercise extra precaution when dealing downloading and surfing the internet can reduce their risks significantly than those who are careless and reckless.
Similarly, you can categorize the likelihood of each potential risk as “high”, “medium”, or “low”. This would depend on the type of vulnerability, the capability and motivation of the threat source, and the effectiveness of your controls.
6. Define plans and controls
With all the assessments in place, it is time that you start planning for how you will prepare and circumvent your assets’ vulnerabilities, the possible threats, their respective impact, and the likelihood of these attacks. This is usually the final part of security assessment methodology where you create and analyze reports post-execution
Using the risks levels on your assessment, you can start recommending actions needed to mitigate risks and vulnerabilities. These can be in the form of improving on your organization policies, upgrading your systems, updating security patches and applications, and checking on regulation compliance.
Having a plan in place ensures that you network is ready to face the future. Create backups to lean on in case of worst-case scenarios. Outline protocols in case of breaches. But most importantly, bridge gaps within your network's security to ensure that nothing gets past your defenses.
7. Keep monitoring for issues
Security assessment isn’t just a one-time thing. It should be a continuous process for every individual and business. This helps you cope up with various changes in your working environment and the threats out there.
More and more organizations are practicing routine security assessment for their network’s security. In fact, a survey by Experian says 57% of organizations use a third-party network security assessment tool to help them monitor their network for issues or changes. This ensures that their cyber defenses are up to date and are working effectively against old and new threats alike.
Having the right tools means you can reduce time and energy when it comes to assessing your network’s security. It also allows you to focus on your work while it does the job of keeping you safe from cyberattacks.
Eliminating the risks
Nowadays, you can never be too careful. The digital age has brought with it a lot of perks, but it has also brought new dangers to your privacy and security. Hence, you should supplement your best antivirus software with firewalls, VPN services and internal protocols to ensure your network is safe.
If you’re in the look out for VPN, you can check out the features of iNinja.
Most importantly, conducting routine security assessment will help ensure that your network is prepared for any threats that might come its way. In this way, you can sleep peacefully at night knowing that you are protected from potential attacks and your data remains safe and untouched.