7 Steps to Cloud Risk Assessment

by Guest Author on November 30, 2021

in Guest Posts

Introduction 

Cloud Technology has drastically transformed the way businesses operate today. The technological advancement and efficiency that it offers businesses are unmatched.  But these Cloud services come with their share of risks.  With most of the data stored in the Cloud, organizations are looking for ways to secure this technology against potential cyber threats. Cloud Risk Assessment is one way to identify potential threats and mitigate them. Cloud Risk Assessment provides you with information on the potential risks of placing your data in the cloud. It is a tool is intended to assess and determine risks specific to cloud technology. Cloud Risk Assessment is beneficial in a way that it helps your organization reduce or mitigate risks, improve the security and efficiency of your business operation. However, the assessment involves a set of steps that need to be carefully followed in order to ensure the assessment is a success and benefits your organization in building a strong defense. Sharing the steps involved in Cloud Risk Assessment, we explained how your organization can follow the same to assess your Cloud Infrastructure.

1. Identify Information Assets 

First and foremost it is important that your organization identifies all the critical assets that it stores on the cloud.  Asset identification is crucial for understanding the data flow and identifying all points of access to your data in the Cloud. This further helps in mapping who has access to your sensitive data and the network flow and distribution of your data. This is an important initial step towards Cloud Risk Assessment. The process helps you identify assets and identify the risk exposure to those sensitive data on Cloud.

2. Identify Risk 

Your organization must look out for cloud-specific risks that your data is exposed to at a given point in time. Adopting various risk assessment techniques like vulnerability assessment and penetration tests, your organization can conduct a comprehensive risk assessment to identify gaps and potential risks that could impact your business.  The risk assessment conducted should account for a wide area or scope of assessment to identify risks, threats, vulnerabilities from internal and external sources, events, misconfiguration, and lack of knowledge or unknown factors that could impact the security of the data. The assessment should determine Indicators of emerging risks, consequences, and impact on business operations.

3. Assess Cloud Service Providers

Vendor risk assessment is a crucial step or part of the Cloud Risk Assessment process. The assessment involves identifying and evaluating potential risks associated with the cloud service provider’s services and operations and their potential impact on your organization. In this assessment, you can determine the potential risk exposure and the likely effects of events that can impact your business. Based on the assessment you can then identify, measure, and prioritize resources to mitigate such risks. Assessing Cloud Service Providers and conducting the required due diligence and monitoring can help mitigate risks and help in building a strong security defense for your infrastructure and sensitive assets. 

4. Risk Analysis 

Risk analysis is the process of identifying and considering all the possibilities or likelihood of uncertain events and scenarios occurring and analyzing its risks, impact or consequences, on business operations. Identifying and analyzing risk is a crucial step towards building a risk mitigation strategy the assessor must evaluate the existing controls and examine their effectiveness. Accordingly, gaps in the assessment must be identified and the proposed additional controls must be implemented. Further risk assessment helps in the decisions to determine and address the highest-level risks. This prevents incidents of breach or attack and reduces the severity of impact that it would have on business.

5. Determine Remediation 

Identifying risk is not the only objective of Cloud risk assessment. The main objective of this assessment is to identify risk and mitigate the same to prevent any incidents. Every risk exposure identified opens up a new set of vulnerabilities that needs to address. For this, your organization must carefully analyze the vulnerabilities and select appropriate security controls to mitigate the same. Risk assessment calls for the evaluation of risks identified and prioritizing them based on the severity and the likelihood of its occurrence. Upon evaluation, you need to then determine the additional controls required to address the issue and reduce the possibility of cyber-attack or incidents of breaches.

6. Document Report Findings 

The findings that you come out with during the assessment must be documented and filed for building a mitigation strategy and for future reference. The report findings must include the list of identified risks, the severity of the risk, their potential impact, and plans of action to eliminate the risks. Putting the remediation strategies into practice requires systematic documentation of the plan. Besides these records serves as proof that the assessment was carried out, and can later be used for compliance audits and for reviewing of business practices. These reports should be handy and used for improving the security programs in the organization.

7. Review & Updates 

Post the risk assessment and remediation plans implemented your organization should review the effectiveness of additional controls established for security. It makes sense that you review the implemented controls regularly on an ongoing basis for constant improvements and updates. Ensure that the security controls and processes are up-to-date, in line with the requirements of the previous cloud risk assessment and risk mitigation strategy. Risk assessment is an ongoing process that should be reviewed and updated regularly to stay ahead of the evolving threat landscape.  

Conclusion 

Cloud Risk Assessment is an important part of the overall cyber security and information risk management program. Based on the assessment and evaluation your organizations can accordingly direct their resources towards managing the risk. You can also ask your cloud service providers to bear a certain amount of resource requirements for securing the infrastructure and sensitive data stored on their cloud. This helps in building a strong security defense and foundation for your organization’s cybersecurity program. It will further demonstrate your commitment towards ensuring a safe and secure environment for business operations and ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of your consumer’s sensitive data.  

Guest article written by: Narendra Sahoo (PCI QSA, PCI QPA, CISSP, CISA, and CRISC) is the Founder and Director of VISTA InfoSec, a global Information Security Consulting firm, based in the US, Singapore & India. Mr. Sahoo holds more than 25 years of experience in the IT Industry, with expertise in Information Risk Consulting, Assessment, & Compliance services. VISTA InfoSec specializes in Information Security audit, consulting, and certification services which include GDPR, HIPAA, CCPA, NESA, MAS-TRM, PCI DSS Compliance & Audit, PCI PIN, SOC2, PDPA, PDPB to name a few. The company has for years (since 2004) worked with organizations across the globe to address the Regulatory and Information Security challenges in their industry. VISTA InfoSec has been instrumental in helping top multinational companies achieve compliance and secure their IT infrastructure.

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