Updated: Jul 17
Businesses are at risk for cyberattacks. Sometimes, the best way to understand your vulnerabilities is to conduct an analysis of your own organization. This type of analysis is called a “hazardous vulnerability analysis program” and has three main steps:
1) Conducting a risk assessment
2) Conducting a current state assessment
3) Implementing mitigation strategies
This blog post will discuss how to implement these strategies in your own organization so that you can fully assess your risks and vulnerabilities.
Why conduct a hazardous vulnerability analysis program?
The three steps of a hazardous vulnerability analysis program are important for the following reasons:
1) Conducting a risk assessment: A risk assessment is an exercise in determining which vulnerabilities pose the biggest risks and most harmful consequences to your organization. Without doing this first, it’s impossible to know what you should prioritize when mitigating security flaws. For example, if your company does not have cybersecurity insurance and gets hacked, the cost of any downtime could be devastating. Conducting a risk assessment will help create a plan for how to mitigate these risks before they happen.
2) Conducting a current state assessment: This step entails examining your current security and ICT infrastructure, including both technical and organizational measures. You want to identify any gaps that exist in your defenses. For instance, if your organization currently lacks antivirus software or firewalls, those gaps need to be addressed immediately through mitigation strategies so that they don’t leave you vulnerable to future attacks.
3) Implementing mitigation strategies: Mitigation strategies are the actions taken by an organization after conducting an analysis of their vulnerabilities that are designed to reduce risks posed by identified vulnerabilities. Mitigation can come in different forms depending on what has been identified as risky within your organization from the previous two steps. For example, if your company has found out that data leakage is one of the most significant threats in its environment based on a risk assessment and current state assessment, then appropriate mitigation might include encrypting all customer information stored on.
Conducting a risk assessment
This is an essential first step in any cybersecurity strategy and it can be done through the use of various assessment methods. For example, a qualitative risk assessment will start with interviews to determine current threat awareness levels and identify where the most pressing vulnerabilities exist. A quantitative analysis would involve conducting vulnerability scans on your network—scanning for "credential harvesting malware" or "exposure to social engineering attacks"—to assess how vulnerable you are overall given specific threats that might affect you.
Here are some questions you should consider when doing this assessment:
- Where are the most likely pathways for a cyberattack?
- What systems or data do we need most, and what systems or data do we have the least need for?
- Which staff members would be most valuable if cyber attacks occurred?
The answers to these questions will help create a plan for improving your organization’s cybersecurity. For example, if it was found that staff members who work on social media were more valuable than those who work on internal communication, then it would make sense to invest more time in protecting those social media platforms.
Conducting a current state assessment
The first step in conducting a hazardous vulnerability analysis program is to conduct a current state assessment. This looks at your company’s current security posture and compares it against industry standards. You can use this assessment to identify what changes need to be made to ensure you are better protected from future cyberattacks. These changes may include securing your data, ensuring all employees have up-to-date antivirus software or removing unneeded software that could allow hackers access to your system.
Implementing mitigation strategies
Mitigation strategies are the last step in a hazardous vulnerability analysis program. After conducting an assessment of your current state, you can implement mitigation strategies to reduce your risks and vulnerabilities.
1) Implementing new policies
2) Using training programs
3) Creating a network access team
Conducting a hazardous vulnerability analysis program can be beneficial for any organization. Not only does it provide an objective assessment of the risks and vulnerabilities of your business, but it also offers a plan for mitigating those risks. For the healthcare-related and specific to healthcare and the safety of the patient, see our next blog post regarding cyber attacks and the healthcare organization as victim.
For reading our blog, please feel free to use this "free download" that is a template for a hazardous vulnerability analysis that is specific to healthcare and the affects mother nature can play on your patient safety. Enjoy!