Data exposure has become a grim reality for organizations today. Hackers are now actively targeting the data stored and processed by government agencies, large enterprises, and even small businesses alike. Established organizations continued to fall victim to data breaches in 2019. Capital One, for instance, disclosed a breached last July. The hack compromised the personal information of over 100 million and 6 million customers in the US and Canada, respectively.

Customers whose data are involved in such breaches are warned to be wary of risks like identity theft and fraud. As a result, customers have now become more vigilant concerning cybersecurity and are now actively calling for better data protection. Only 25 percent of consumers believe that companies can protect their personal data. Majority of them are also not willing to do business with companies that they think are not collecting and handling data responsibly.

As such, businesses are investing heavily on security tools to detect, prevent, and mitigate cyber threats. Unfortunately, one out of five organizations say that they are “not at all confident” in their ability to manage and respond to cyberattacks. This lack of confidence is partly because organizations are not seeing positive outcomes from their security investments.

This is why it’s critical for businesses to routinely perform cyber risk assessments. These test the effectiveness of an organization’s security measures and assesses its ability to manage and respond to modern threats. They also serve as a way to check if their measures actually work and see if they are getting any return from their investments.

Finding vulnerabilities

Conventionally, assessing one’s exposure to cyber threats have been a challenge especially for small companies. Organizations typically have to monitor their infrastructure and perform penetration tests using frameworks like Metasploit to find out vulnerabilities. However, these methods often require advanced technical knowledge of systems and are quite tedious to perform. Others rely on third party services to test their infrastructure and provide them with security ratings.

Fortunately, new tools are now designed to ease the burden of IT teams. A breach and attack simulation (BAS) platforms enable businesses to simulate and automate attack scenarios across multiple vectors. These platforms can check if an organization’s implemented endpoint protection is capable of detecting and eliminating malware. The platform can also run scripts to test how security tools such as firewalls, antiviruses, and email and web gateway security perform against complex threats. It also gives risk scores after every evaluation and provides suggestions on how to remediate flaws in the organization’s security infrastructure.

Businesses can also use log analysis tools that can help them monitor events and detect suspicious activities in their system. Solutions providers are now enhancing the capabilities of log analysis tools. XpoLog, for instance, can gather logs from all integrated devices. It leverages machine learning to automatically identify deviant patterns which could be indicative of attacks. It can also give detailed security reports to help companies address the vulnerabilities in their network.

Complying with regulations

These risk assessment tools can also help businesses remain compliant with privacy and security policies and regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In the US, the California Consumer Privacy Act is also set to take effect in 2020. These regulations are put in place to help improve data protection and make organizations accountable for the data they collect. By assessing their capabilities to combat cyberattacks, businesses can improve their defense and drastically reduce the possibility of a data breach.

Failure to comply with these regulations can result in hefty fines and potential lawsuits. For instance, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Capital One after it suffered a massive data breach. This can cause the company $600 million dollars in settlement. Such lawsuits can also result in a damaged company reputation that is difficult to repair.

Considering how stringent these regulations are, being compliant can also give businesses a competitive advantage. Compliant businesses can reassure customers that their data are managed and protected responsibly, allowing them to establish trust in their customers and develop brand loyalty.

Building cyber confidence

Performing cyber risk assessments is crucial for businesses to survive and thrive especially given how rampant cyberattack threats are today. Risk assessment tools can help organizations test their security posture by comprehensively checking the effectiveness of their adopted solutions. By knowing their vulnerabilities, they can then plug security gaps and implement more stringent measures. Ultimately, performing risk assessments can help businesses establish a strong security perimeter that can enable them to safeguard their network and assure their customers that their data is well-protected.