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How to Measure Anything in Cybersecurity Risk? Step-by-Step

4 Min. Read

Technology can’t help itself from falling into the wrong hands. It is available to security experts and cyber attackers alike. Despite the frivolous attempts to strengthen security protocols by organizations worldwide, over $4.1 billion was lost due to cybercrime in 2020-21 alone.

From small phishing attacks to organization-wide shutdowns, even a minor system breach can do lots of damage. Monitoring information security efficiency is a key performance indicator for businesses. It helps them articulate the problems and lay down safety nets to lower the probability of a potential breach. But how to measure anything in cybersecurity risk?

Dive in to find out!

Cybersecurity Risk: At a Glance

Cybersecurity risk tells you how likely an online business is to lose money, personal data, or internal assets due to unauthorized access which breaks confidentiality. To put it another way, it gives you the amount of exposure/vulnerability your business has when it comes to networks, devices, and cloud-based systems.

While bigger companies hire dedicated security experts to oversee their operations, smaller organizations often fall prey to data loss, squandered funds, or constant downtime due to a security breach. This can impact sales, and brand value and even deteriorate your customer’s trust in the brand.

We can measure this risk using conventional forecasting or statistical analysis, but before we do that, let us look at the ways through which we can assess risks.

How to Measure Cybersecurity Risk?

To quantify cybersecurity risk, you can use a framework that relies on a threat, vulnerability, and financial damage. It is worth noting that even though the terms ‘vulnerability’ and ‘cyber risk’ might sound the same, they are not. Vulnerability is a flaw that leads to unauthorized network access whereas ‘cyber risk’ determines the probability of that vulnerability being exploited.

The formula to measure Cyber Risk = Threat x Information value x Vulnerability

Here are the steps you need to follow when measuring cybersecurity risk:

Step 1: Value derivation

Firstly, you need to start with a system-wide assessment of security weaknesses and then assign a security level to them. Imagine a scenario where you do get hacked, what are the assets that could cause the most damage if lost?

Prioritize the information you want to keep safe in the same way you prioritize day-to-day tasks. Note how the loss of a certain database may affect the company as a whole, brand value, and finances. Put yourself in the shoes of a third person and evaluate the loopholes which could be used to gain improper access or deter the smooth functioning of your systems.

Once this is done, lay out a rating system (1-10, 1 being extremely low-risk) for different areas of your business to check if the existing systems suffice or not.

7-10: You need to implement a lot of changes in these systems and install various barriers to lower the possibility of a cyber-attack.

6-3: Moderate-level risks that can be fixed via small adjustments.

1-2: In these areas, highly effective security systems are already laid out. They only require regular firmware updates to function properly.

Step 2: Focusing on Vital Assets

Use audit reports or software security analysis teams to prepare an assessment report. This will help the managers identify the areas which need improvement and have a high likelihood of being hacked. Vital assets can vary from one company to another.

This can include everything ranging from trade secrets, patents, and employee data to hardware, strategy, or security policies. A routine assessment of the activities of all the employees who have access to crucial information is also necessary.

Step 3: Deploying Protective Barriers

Once the vulnerabilities have been discovered, an organization should immediately put safety nets in place to increase security. Be it a revision of company policies, getting rid of outdated tools, or demotion of certain individuals, you must keep the interests of the company as a whole in mind.

Changes can be further implemented by sticking to military-grade encryption for data, deploying two-factor authentication to prevent unknown logins, and configuring a virtual private network (VPN) when accessing public networks.

Look for software security companies that provide intrusion detection mechanisms and automatic updates so that you can focus on operations without worrying about the risk of cyber hacking.

Statistical analysis is another way to measure cybersecurity risk by collecting data and identifying obtrusive patterns. Unlike conventional methods, this process gives an accurate risk-to-safety ratio. You can use software like RStudio, SPSS Statistics, and TIMi Suite for statistical analysis.

Types of Security Threats

With the recent convergence of work professionals to the work-from-home system, we now heavily rely on our systems to keep our data secure. This has also opened the doors for various cyber criminals to exploit loopholes and bypass security measures. Whether you seek the assistance of an independent consultant or have an in-house IT team, these are a few forms of corporate cybersecurity risks that you should steer clear from:


Malware is essentially software that is designed to bring a system down by gaining unauthorized access to the network.

[ Source Photo Pxhere ]
Each software is unique and is designed to target different aspects of a system, for instance: payment gateways, spyware on landing pages, spam email sign-up forms, etc.

Adware:This software displays repetitive adverts on the user’s screen. Though they are not dangerous, spammy adverts can decrease the speed of your website and redirect visitors to other dangerous viruses.
Viruses:Viruses are commonly installed with files and can spread across multiple systems quickly. This can be countered by having a robust enterprise-wide antivirus system.
Fileless malware:These softwares do not rely on an executable file, but rather come with platforms like PowerShell, MS Office Macros and other system apps.
Worms:Much like a virus, worms spread quickly from one system to another but are targeted at specific databases instead of the entire system. Keeping your system updated with all the latest patches and firewalls is one solution to stay safe.
Trojans:These softwares prompt the user into installing or executing them while giving a false idea that the software poses no harm.
Bots:Bots work in an automated manner and create a botnet via which a hacker can control multiple systems and launch larger attacks.
Ransomware:This involves stealing the data of an enterprise followed by threats of deletion, unless the user pays a ransom amount to the hacker.
Spyware:Spyware is used to monitor user activity and send the information to other marketing channels. This can also compromise your passwords and personal data.


In this illegal practice, a hacker uses another person’s computer to mine cryptocurrency without their knowledge or consent.

[ Source Photo Pexels ]
This crypto mining software typically runs in the background and is hidden within the system. This method of cyber-hacking accounted for a loss of $52 million in the first four months of 2022.

Social engineering

These attacks involve emails and text messages from anonymous accounts which include a link to a fake offer. As soon as the user clicks on such links, they are redirected to a phishing website. These attacks might also involve active human participation, for example, someone pretending to be from the IT department and asking you to disclose personal data.

Complex forms of these attacks include MITM attacks, DDOS attacks, and APT attacks. Learn more about the common cyberattacks to look out for.

Summing Up

Evaluating cybersecurity risk is a fairly arduous process, but is highly imperative about potential data loss.

You can start by identifying the key problems in your system and then sorting them accordingly. Once this is done, reinforce software that automates updates and keeps attacks at bay.

> Learn more on how to become a Certified Information Security Manager (CISM).

> Learn more on how to become a Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP).

Thank you for reading my blog.

If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment.

-Charbel Nemnom-

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About the Author
Charbel Nemnom
Charbel Nemnom is a Senior Cloud Architect, Swiss Certified ICT Security Expert, Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP), and Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT). He has over 20 years of broad IT experience serving on and guiding technical teams to optimize the performance of mission-critical enterprise systems with extensive practical knowledge of complex systems build, network design, business continuity, and cloud security.

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