Conducting a cybersecurity risk assessment has become increasingly important for small and medium-sized businesses. As a part of the process, decision-makers should ask themselves specific sets of questions to help them identify risks, rank them according to the likelihood of occurrence, and then find solutions to mitigate them.

Delving into the following questions will help you better ascertain any weakness so you can bolster your defenses.

  • Is our team ready for a cyber attack? If they haven’t been trained to follow smart, strategic protocols, this will be your biggest weakness, since most cyber attacks occur due to mistakes made by people.
  • Do we have a formal cybersecurity program in place? If not, it’s time to pull together a formal plan.
  • How is organizational data currently safeguarded? Determine which, if any, protective measures are in place when data is stored or in transit and if current safeguards are strong or robust enough.
  • What credentials and authentication protocols are in place? Not every person needs access to every area of a database, network, etc.
  • Can our company benefit from obtaining cybersecurity insurance? Cyber insurance can help reduce risk because coverage can help if a business experiences disruption, loss of revenue, damage to equipment, public relations/marketing expenses, legal fees, and other costs associated with recovery after a cybersecurity event.
  • What would a hacker do? Try to get into the mind of a threat actor and ascertain what areas of your company they’d most likely target and what information they’d seek. Strive to find all weaknesses and then put in protective cybersecurity measures.
  • How is due diligence performed when it comes to third parties (e.g. vendors, contractors, etc.)? Do third parties have strong protective protocols in place or could they put your data at risk? Many significant data breaches have been traced back to third parties.
  • Has our company been compromised in the past by threat actors? If so, what has been done to prevent this type of incident from happening again? Do these protective measures still work?

Most internal threats are related to human mistakes—either unintentional or intentional—but the majority of them are purely accidental. However, errors can be mitigated through cybersecurity risk assessment tools and by implementing policies and procedures to raise awareness throughout the company. External threats are far more common and, unfortunately, cybercriminals getting a head start can do serious damage. Performing a thorough assessment, including using a cybersecurity assessment template, and asking detailed questions will help prevent criminals from exploiting your systems.

Many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) don’t have large IT teams to handle cybersecurity while running the day-to-day tasks associated with technology. Hackers are vigilant—you should be too. Connecting with an expert partner to help protect your business and your customers by handling your cyber risk management can go a long way towards strengthening your cybersecurity.

In Part 2 of this series on cybersecurity risk assessment tools, we’ll detail the five types of cybersecurity threats SMBs likely face every day.