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Cyber security Risk management: preventative and reactive controls

Published on January 18, 2019

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Protecting Your Business From Cyber Threats

How confident are you that your business will continue to operate in the event of a cyber attack or interruption to your online data and services?

Do you know how quickly you could recover from such an incident? Do you have a tested recovery plan in place?

Traditional IT Security measures alone are no longer sufficient to ensure business continuity. You need a specialized cyber security risk management approach and practices to ensure business continuity and guarantee that your business can recover. The best cyber security controls not only prioritize risks but also prevent them.

top view of a desk with notepads, a laptop and Ipad

Understanding Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is any systems and security controls implemented to protect internet-connected systems, confidential data, hardware systems, and software programs. In layman's terms, it is a preventive step to protect an organization's operations and maintain a positive security posture. It is also commonly known as information technology security or IT security.

Cybersecurity risk management is used and employed by individuals or organizations to protect the critical assets of a business from a potential cyber attack. Even when there is a malicious attack, a solid security posture will make it impenetrable for these malicious individuals who will attempt to access, delete, steal, or misuse your confidential data and systems. The importance of solid mitigation strategies against cyber attacks on sensitive data could make a difference between an organization surviving an attack or losing most of its assets.

In 2019, the Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report revealed that 3 in every 5 firms experienced a cyber attack within the last year a sharp increase from the previous year, where this figure was less than half.

Therefore, you simply cannot leave it up to chance. You must implement a proactive approach toward cyber security. The NIST cybersecurity framework provides a basic guideline for improving critical infrastructure cybersecurity protocols. You can also use it as a guideline for enhancing your risk management initiative.

How Serious Are Cyber Security Threats?

To understand the importance of building a solid cyber risk management strategy, you must first understand the scale of the cyber threat in the information security industry today.

The global cyber security threat is exponentially growing every year. It's comforting to know that the rapid pace of technological development makes it possible for organizations to access sophisticated and advanced solutions for cybersecurity risk management. Unfortunately, hackers and cyber attackers also have access to the same advanced technology that is out there.

For this reason, the average cost of damage due to cyber security breaches in the UK in 2022 was reported by Statista at 8,040 GBP for medium to large businesses. The average cost of a cyber security breach across all businesses is 1,200 GBP.

Regardless of the size of your business, everyone is at risk for cyber attacks. The only downside is that small to medium businesses might feel the impact more, with some that end up closing their business due to their inability to recover their business operations following the financial setback.

Would-be cyber attackers have access to a wide range of technological tools. Therefore, it is critical to take proactive measures when you evaluate information security risks. There should be ongoing monitoring since cyber threats continue to evolve. Repeated risk assessments are an important part of the process of improving your cybersecurity risk management and practices.

Types of Cyber Attacks

Not all cyber security threats look the same. It's one of the many hurdles organisations face when developing an improved cybersecurity risk management practice. Ensure you learn about these different types of cyber-attacks to be one step ahead and prepare for these threats effectively.

1. Malware Attack

A malware attack is the most common cybersecurity risk threatening individuals and organizations. Malware simply refers to malicious software that attacks your computer systems and network by installing (without your permission) spyware, ransomware, trojans, and worms to your network or technology infrastructure.

Each of the aforementioned malware attacks your organization's IT systems in different ways. For example, ransomware blocks access to your network, while spyware steals confidential or sensitive data from your computer without your knowledge.

The main point of attack for malware is vulnerability. If you click on an unknown link, it could download harmful software to your computer and then steals important information from your device or network. Therefore, many organizations employ various antivirus software programs as part of the security controls to protect against these malicious software programs. But you should perform ongoing monitoring and employ advanced information security controls to prevent these data loss once these programs affect your computer or network.

man sitting at a desk in front of 3 screens showing a ransomware alert

2. Phishing Attacks

The next most common threat in the cybersecurity realm is phishing. Phishing attacks are becoming more common these days and are also a testament to the level of sophistication that cyber attackers have access to in the hopes of taking advantage of individuals and organizations.

Phishing uses social engineering by capitalizing on a trusted contact to attack the victim. For example, a cyber attacker pretends to email an unknowing victim about their bank account. By posing as a legitimate contact, they can earn the victim's trust until they can access their confidential information or lead to data loss.

To avoid a similar phishing scheme, you must always scrutinize the emails you receive. Be wary of spelling and grammar errors. Installing an anti-phishing tool in your browser is important to identify and protect against risks.

3. Password Attack

Regularly updating your password is one of the ways to manage risk from potential cyber attackers. However, sophisticated attackers can deploy password-cracking tools, and many of these programs are currently available. Once they crack your password, it gives them access to confidential accounts.

Cyber security experts suggest using a strong password that contains alpha-numeric elements and special characters. These types of passwords are more difficult to crack by these programs. Also, avoid using password hints on your account to make it more difficult to attack.

someone entering their password on their phone with laptop in the background

4. SQL Attack

SQL stands for Standard Query Language. This type of cyber attack happens in a database-driven website that exploits a standard SQL query. An attacker uses a malicious code that enables them to access that website's database, which could reveal sensitive data, such as personal and financial information. They can also delete or edit some of these data since the code essentially gives them administrative rights to use the database.

You can prevent this type of cybersecurity risk by deploying an intrusion detection system. This tool can detect if there is any unauthorized access to the system and immediately block that access. If the hacker can get through the initial detection phase, there will be an additional validation process to ensure the authenticity of the access.

The above cyber attack types are just some of the general types of cybersecurity risks currently present in the industry, which could pose a serious threat to business operations. You need a robust cybersecurity risk management plan to protect against these threats and ensure that you can keep the risk level low.

The Importance of Risk Management

The following are important reasons why you need to invest in a powerful cyber risk management process:

  • Risk management aid in identifying risk and assessing risks that limit your ability to attain your business goals.
  • You can also build a solid risk response procedure when you have identified risks. Your ability to mitigate risks protects your company's integrity versus trying to address the effects of an attack.
  • Risk management reduces unexpected events. It allows you to think proactively about a cyber risk incident and know exactly what to do when it happens.
  • Effective cyber risk management offers financial benefits. You can optimize your use of company resources by reducing operational costs and minimizing losses due to cyber risk and data loss.
  • Building a solid cyber risk management strategy prevents reputational issues for your organization. Your organization won't be held accountable for any customer data you put at risk or vulnerable to a certain cyber risk.
  • An effective cyber risk management plan improves company culture. It's not just the cyber security team members that understand the importance of the risk management process. Everyone follows the best practices when it comes to addressing cyber risks.

Steps to Effective Cyber Security Risk Management

Even before the pandemic, the threat of cybersecurity risks has been plaguing businesses of all sizes. Over the years, they have progressed at an alarming rate.

Implementing a well-designed risk management framework helps you identify risks, analyze them, and address any cyber risks. So, the next action plan is building a cybersecurity risk management framework that effectively addresses the assessed risks.

laptop with different security icons

Step 1: Assess Your Current Cybersecurity Risk Management Measures

Your cybersecurity team needs to understand your current cybersecurity risk management framework well. The security team must know where your servers are located and the cybersecurity risk management process in relation to how you can protect these elements. Understanding your current infrastructure architecture is the first step to building established risk acceptance criteria and other measures you can take to enhance your tolerance against cybersecurity risk.

Step 2: Identify Gaps in Cyber Risk Management

Use various testing methods to identify risks and gaps in your organization's cybersecurity risk management process. An effective risk assessment plan must consider any vulnerabilities in your cyber risk assessment and risk mitigation strategies. This is an important step in managing risk so that you can significantly lessen the blow of these risks to your organization's critical processes.

Step 3: Build Your Security Team

Build a cyber security team to address any threats to your business. Their sole responsibility is to manage the continual process of identifying risks, developing and improving your security controls, and finding ways to minimise the impact of cyber risks.

The cybersecurity team must consist of security professionals with expertise and training in cyber risk management. That way, you can ensure they will effectively develop a risk management strategy that meets your company's needs and requirements.

The Role of Technology in Cyber Security Risk Management

Before moving on to step 4, you need to have a good understanding of the role of technology in cyber security risk management. As with so many of the developments we are experiencing in the corporate world, technology can be heavily linked to the changes we have experienced within cybersecurity in recent years.

We can choose from more digital tools than ever before both in software and hardware but this increase in choice, unfortunately, brings an opportunity for each tool to be compromised.

Businesses must progress their technical security efforts in line with this ever-changing environment, with an all-encompassing security strategy relevant to the firm's IT policy that includes the various devices and programmes utilised in their workplace.

laptop screen showing an

Step 4: Build Cyber Risk Management Framework Based on International Standards

It is critical to enforce appropriate cyber risk management measures. However, the only way to guarantee that your risk management framework is effective is to ensure it meets international organization standards. Regulating bodies have developed minimum security risk protocols as a compliance regulation. But be mindful of adopting these industry standards within your security teams to facilitate a solid information security management system.

Step 5: Create a Business Continuity Plan and Risk Response

Your risk management plan should include risk response strategies. Every member of your organization must know what actions to take in case of a cyber incident and any disruption. The risk management plan coincides with the business continuity plan so that you can protect your core business functions and reduce downtime.

Building your business continuity and risk management plan is not a one-time process. It is an ongoing process, so you must constantly test, review, and evaluate your risk management processes to make sure it's up-to-date and still relevant to your organization. It will help you recover quickly from any cybersecurity threats.


There is no way to deny that cyber attacks have been on the rise and are likely to progress. Firms cannot ignore or get away from this issue, so they need to be proactive in protecting themselves with a well-designed risk analysis and risk response procedure. The criteria established earlier can be used as a starting point when you want to boost your security processes and protect the integrity of your security posture.

A comprehensive risk management and business continuity management procedure will cover the two parts required for protection cyber security and business resilience. Working through your BCMS will identify the risks and how to prepare for recovery should these incidences occur.

C2 Meridian walks you through the steps to building an effective business continuity plan. Our BCMS is also aligned with ISO 22301, the official standard for Business Continuity. You can identify any need for cyber security measures when setting up and maintaining your BC Plans. Moreover, it gives you confidence knowing that your enterprise risk management addresses any potential risks and that you know what to do in case of an attack. Book a demo today to see it in action.

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Written by Lisa McStay

Chief Operating Officer at Continuity2

As a proud COO of Continuity2, Lisa strives to provide intuitive and innovative solutions for the Business Resilience market and reshape the industry as we know it today. Lisa has been in the industry for over 10+ years, helping clients achieve their Business Continuity and Resilience objectives for continuous growth and success.

C2 Author Lisa 1
C2 Author Lisa 1

Written by Lisa McStay

Chief Operating Officer at Continuity2

As a proud COO of Continuity2, Lisa strives to provide intuitive and innovative solutions for the Business Resilience market and reshape the industry as we know it today. Lisa has been in the industry for over 10+ years, helping clients achieve their Business Continuity and Resilience objectives for continuous growth and success.