As cyber threats continue to increase around the world, New Zealand businesses need to take proactive steps to protect their customers, staff and data from cybercriminals. Threats to data security are persistent and come from many different places.
Today’s offices are digitally sophisticated. Just about every activity relies on some type of technology and data sharing. Hackers can breach these systems from multiple entry points. This includes computers, smartphones, cloud applications, and network infrastructure.
It’s estimated that cybercriminals can penetrate 93% of company networks.
One approach that can help organisations fight these intrusions is threat modelling. Threat modelling is a process used in cybersecurity to help develop a plan and reduce potential risk. It involves identifying potential threats and vulnerabilities to an organisation’s assets and systems.
Threat modelling helps businesses prioritise their risk management and mitigation strategies. The goal is to mitigate the risk of falling victim to a costly cyber incident.
Here are the steps businesses can follow to create a threat model.
1. Identify Assets That Need Protection
The first step is to identify assets that are most critical to the business. This includes sensitive data, intellectual property, or financial information. What aspects of your business data are cybercriminals most likely to be going after?
Don’t forget to include phishing-related assets like company email accounts. Business email compromise is a fast-growing area of attack. It capitalises on breached company email logins and can provide an entry point to other businesses or individuals you are associated with.
2. Identify Potential Threats
The next step is to identify potential threats to these assets. Some common threats could be cyber-attacks such as phishing. Others would be ransomware, malware, or social engineering.
Another category of threats could be physical breaches or insider threats. This is where employees or suppliers have access to sensitive information.
Remember, threats aren’t always malicious. Human error causes approximately 88% of data breaches. So ensure you’re aware of mistake-related threats such as:
- The use of weak passwords
- Unclear cloud use policies
- Lack of employee training
- Poor or non-existent BYOD (bring your own device) policies
3. Assess Likelihood and Impact
Once you’ve identified potential threats, take the next step. This is to assess the likelihood and impact of these threats. Businesses must understand how likely each threat is to occur. As well as the potential impact on their operations, reputation, and financial stability. This will help rank the risk management and mitigation strategies.
Base the threat likelihood on current cybersecurity statistics as well as a thorough vulnerability assessment. It’s best that your vulnerability assessment is carried out by a trusted third party IT service provider. If you’re doing your assessment with only internal input, you’re bound to miss something.
4. Prioritise Risk Management Strategies
Prioritise risk management strategies next. Base this on the likelihood and impact of each potential threat. Most businesses can’t tackle everything at once due to time and cost constraints. So it’s important to rank solutions based on the biggest impact on cybersecurity in your organisation.
Some common strategies to consider include implementing:
- Access controls
- Intrusion detection systems
- Employee training and awareness programmes
- Endpoint device management
Businesses must also determine which strategies are most cost-effective. They should also align with your business goals.
5. Continuously Review and Update the Model
Threat modelling is not a one-time process. Cyber threats are constantly evolving. Businesses must continuously review and update their threat models. This will help ensure that your security measures are effective as well as aligned with your business objectives.
Benefits of Threat Modelling for Businesses
Threat modelling is an essential process for businesses to reduce their cybersecurity risk. Identifying potential threats and vulnerabilities to your assets and systems is important. It helps you to rank risk management strategies as well as reduce the likelihood and impact of cyber incidents.
Here are just a few of the benefits of adding threat modelling to a cybersecurity strategy.
1. Improved Understanding of Threats and Vulnerabilities
Threat modelling can help businesses gain a better understanding of specific threats. It also uncovers vulnerabilities that could impact their assets. It identifies gaps in their security measures and helps uncover risk management strategies.
Ongoing threat modelling can also help companies stay out in front of new threats. Artificial intelligence is birthing new types of cyber threats every day. Companies that are complacent can fall victim to new attacks.
2. Cost-effective Risk Management
Addressing risk management based on the likelihood and impact of threats helps reduce costs. It can optimise company security investments and help ensure that businesses divide resources effectively and efficiently.
3. Business Alignment
Threat modelling can help ensure that security measures align with your business objectives. This can reduce the potential impact of security measures on business operations. It also helps you co-ordinate security, goals, and operations.
4. Reduced Risk of Cyber Incidents
By implementing targeted threat modelling strategies, businesses can reduce risk. This includes the likelihood and impact of cybersecurity incidents. This will help to protect assets and reduce the often far reaching negative consequences of a security breach such as the recent Latitude/Gem Finance breach.
5. Get Started with Comprehensive Threat Identification
If you’re a New Zealand business with questions about running a vulnerability assessment or putting in place a cybersecurity threat model, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our teams in Christchurch, Dunedin or Tauranga.
Article used with permission from The Technology Press.