A cybersecurity self-assessment helps IT teams, partners flag risks

IT teams, partners and vendors can benefit from an internal checkup when it comes to reducing the risk of a cybersecurity breach. This approach can help document security efforts.

Editor's note: IT security starts with introspection. In this article, Kathy Killingsworth, vice president of governance, risk and compliance at Concerto Cloud Services, shares her views on the benefits of conducting a cybersecurity self-assessment to address the threat of a cybersecurity breach.

The year 2017 was filled with news about cybersecurity, including phishing scams, ransomware and new attack methods. As we head further into 2018, security experts are predicting even bigger attacks and smarter hacks that will be met with heavy fines slapped on regulated organizations for not preventing or minimizing a breach on their watch.

Adhering to compliance standards and finding gaps in data security is a multifaceted process that requires a holistic approach, expertise and vigilance. If your organization hasn't done a self-assessment of its cybersecurity and compliance processes previously, or done so recently, now is the best time to follow through with this assessment.

Research currently shows that more than 56% of organizations reported moderate or severe impact of security challenges on their cloud computing use. According to 451 Research, even more reported compliance and regulation challenges. For organizations that must meet regulatory standards -- including Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Payment Card Industry (PCI), SOC, International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) -- the disruption and consequences in the event of a cybersecurity breach can cost more than they are worth in fines, a tarnished reputation and remediation efforts.

Taking all this into consideration, here are five key benefits of a cybersecurity self-assessment that organizations should consider:

Graphic showing cybersecurity attack vector trends
Cybersecurity self-assessments can help organizations deal with the growing variety of cyberattacks

A cybersecurity self-assessment measures security risks objectively across teams and roles

Even the most brilliant and passionate IT teams, partners and vendors can sometimes become myopic or defensive about their technology infrastructure and practices.

Even the most brilliant and passionate IT teams, partners and vendors can sometimes become myopic or defensive about their technology infrastructure and practices. Because most organizations have a variety of clouds, platforms and IT infrastructure, security exposures may not be discovered without an assessment, or worse, a traumatic event. A self-assessment tool can offer an objective lens from which to have critical conversations across teams and roles.

A cybersecurity self-assessment flags risks and exposures

From intrusion detection software to cybersecurity insurance, cybersecurity is a multifaceted and ever-changing effort. Cybersecurity experts are in high demand, and many organizations face exposures for which they aren't equipped to assess or internally manage. A self-assessment can be the starting point of identifying new and old areas of risk. It can also help you ask the right questions regarding protecting your organization.

A cybersecurity self-assessment documents and tracks security efforts

In the world of cybersecurity, there are no guarantees that an unforeseen security event won't strike. That's simply not the reality of today's world. However, multiple layers of security processes can isolate issues in their tracks and prevent worst-case scenarios. In addition, a well-prepared organization should be able to quickly respond to multiple severity levels of security situations. Assessing your risk is the first step in developing cybersecurity and compliance efforts, documenting and training your organization around a security plan and tracking progress toward remediation efforts.

A cybersecurity self-assessment helps you quickly adapt to regulatory changes

Regulations change, technology platforms evolve, and teams adopt new devices, subscriptions and solutions. Your organization's IT environment must continuously evolve to keep up with the reality of everyday business. What was a best practice a year ago may not be so today. Routine security risk assessments can help your organization stay proactive. And with the right cloud tools and controls, your organization can quickly adapt to changes in the marketplace.

A cybersecurity self-assessment empowers your users

Multiple experts cite the number one threat to cybersecurity is your colleague down the hall. The people within your organization have the most opportunity to expose your data, second to vendors with access to your systems. From proper management of user access and authentication, to education around recognizing phishing emails, your users can make or break your security. Organization-wide education and preparedness is key to preventing, as well as responding to, a security event.

In order to protect your organization's private information and save on the cost and consequences of an attack, it's vital that your organization perform a self-assessment. Simple steps can help your organization understand where risks are and take preventative action to thwart a security event from happening.

For more information on the effects of a cybersecurity breach in the IT channel, check out our recent article on how clients' lax security can put a manage service provider's business at risk.

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