Blog Post

Homing the Cyber Risk Analysis Lens: Exploring Macro to Micro Trends

May 7, 2024

Table of Contents

TL;DR

  • Achieving cyber resilience requires CISOs to gather all relevant data. This process includes assessing their organization's cyber risk landscape from both zoomed-out and zoomed-in lenses.
  • The underlying goal of gaining a more holistic understanding of the risk landscape is to be able to create more targeted mitigation efforts and make optimized spending decisions. 
  • On-demand cyber risk quantification (CRQ) platforms aid CISOs in this endeavor, providing a broader perspective of the cyber risk landscape and more drilled-down drivers of cyber risk based on event type and initial attack vector. 
  • By translating cyber risk metrics into event likelihoods, potential financial loss, and ROI, CRQ likewise fosters robust cyber mitigation programs by allowing all key stakeholders, even those without a technical background, to participate meaningfully in discussions.
  • Ultimately, the more access the CISO has to cyber risk details, both high-level and granular, the more prepared they can be to face the external landscape and achieve high-end cyber resiliency. 

The Road to Achieving Cyber Resiliency

The process of achieving goals, whether long-term, short-term, personal, or professional, starts with harnessing the available relevant data. In fact, the more information gleaned beforehand, the more likely the mission will be a success. However, the details required for devising an effective plan exist at various granular levels, some overarching, focusing on the broader elements, and others more minute.

Across the entire spectrum of granularity, no detail is inherently more important than another when developing a strategy to meet an objective. The broader view is just as crucial as the narrow. For instance, when pursuing health and fitness goals, knowing current and target endurance times or weight-lifting strength is key. At the same time, reaching these targets also demands knowing more about meal plans and training schedules. 

This rule likewise rings true for organizations striving to achieve cyber resiliency. Building the optimal cyber program requires chief information security officers (CISOs) to have the ability to zoom both in and out on their organization's risk landscape and assess it from multiple angles. 

Only by considering key macro details, such as overall exposure to experiencing a cyber incident, along with the more micro ones, such as the likelihood of specific attack vectors being exploited, can these cybersecurity leaders create the most customized, cost-effective cyber risk migration strategies that result in not only resilience but also organizational growth.

Gathering the Necessary Data With Cyber Risk Quantification (CRQ)

Depending on experience and familiarity with their organizations, CISOs may already have a basic idea of how best to approach the objective of achieving cyber resilience. However, these initial plans must be defensible. Board members and upper management will undoubtedly want to know the underlying motivation behind certain spending requests and prioritization decisions.

This high-level interest, which has become increasingly common as more and more corporate executives recognize cyber risk as a fundamental business risk, demands two core things from cybersecurity leaders. The first is that CISOs harness objective global intelligence and calibrated risk models that safeguard data accuracy. The second is the ability to translate this complex data into a language non-technical stakeholders understand.

On-demand cyber risk quantification (CRQ) platforms address these modern-day requirements, illuminating the necessary information, both from a zoomed-in and zoomed-out view, for CISOs to formulate cyber risk management strategies that accurately reflect their organization’s risk landscape. Financial CRQ also provides a means to justify this action plan in terms comprehensible to all, ensuring that the road to resliency is a collaborative effort. 

Unveiling the Broad Perspective of an Organization’s Cyber Risk

With a CRQ solution, CISOs gain a broader understanding of their organization’s cyber risk landscape, enabling them to devise the best course of action for allocating available resources cost-effectively. A CRQ platform like the one offered by Kovrr harnesses extensive global intelligence to produce the entire spectrum of potential losses an organization may experience in the upcoming year, along with their relative likelihoods.

Figure 1: A high-level overview of CloudSoftware Inc.’s spectrum of financial exposure due to cyber risk.

For example, the organization in Figure 1, CloudSoftware Inc., has only a 3% chance of experiencing a year in which monetary losses due to cyber activities amount to $32 million. At the same time, CloudSoftware has an Average Annual Loss (AAL) expectancy of $4.6 million (Figure 2), as well as a 40% likelihood of experiencing financial damages amounting to a total of $790 thousand.

Figure 2: CloudSoftware Inc.’s Average Annual Loss (AAL) according to its cyber risk posture.

This distribution equips CISOs to help executives gauge their relative risk appetite levels. If they decide that, on an average year, suffering a loss of roughly $4.6 million is something the business can afford, then they can allocate funds into capital reserves accordingly. Conversely, should the probability of specific financial loss exceed risk appetite levels, CloudSoftware budget-makers know that it’s worth it to invest more in cyber risk mitigation efforts. 

These zoomed-out metrics, describing an organization’s overarching cyber risk, can also be leveraged by CISOs in a number of ways, such as:

Ultimately, assessing an organization’s cyber risk from a wide lens enables cybersecurity professionals to align cyber programs with the broader objectives and ensure that key stakeholders have a baseline understanding of how cyber mitigation initiatives can contribute to business growth. 

Leveraging the Drilled Down View of Cyber Risk Drivers

While the zoomed-out, broader view offers CISOs and other key stakeholders a strategic foundation for aligning cybersecurity goals with the broader business mission, delving into the more granular aspects of what drives an organization's cyber risk exposure offers specific advantages that enhance mitigation planning and thus, overall program effectiveness. 

Pursuing Highly Targeted Mitigation Efforts

When leveraging a CRQ platform that can drill down and showcase an organization's risk drivers, CISOs can readily pursue initiatives that minimize their exposure to specific cyber events or initial attack vectors. Instead of needing to test out various potential control upgrade scenarios, these cybersecurity leaders will know precisely the measures to take, saving valuable time.

Figure 3: Review recommendations to mitigate specific cyber events with Kovrr’s CRQ platform.

This capability can prove particularly strategic, for instance, if there is an uptick in ransomware events across an organization's industry. In that case, using a zoomed-in view of their cyber risk, CISOs can shift departmental efforts toward minimizing the potential financial damages in the wake of such an incident. This level of specificity ensures resources have been effectively capitalized. 

Calculating Optimized Spending Decisions

Analyzing the more granular components of an organization's cyber risk posture enables CISOs to make optimized spending decisions. They'll be able to allocate resources strategically and have a deeper understanding of which specific initiatives have contributed the most to reducing financial exposure and which ones lead to the most significant ROI

Moreover, these sharper insights help to guarantee that the cybersecurity department is pursuing action plans that align with the business's overall objectives. CISOs can demonstrate to stakeholders that they've maximized the impact of their investments, delivering tangible value to the organization and driving growth. 

Setting Data-Driven Incremental Goals 

Reaching a long-term goal, such as enterprise-level cyber resiliency, is typically comprised of many shorter-term achievements. With a zoomed-in view of their organization's risk landscape, CISOs can set these smaller-scale (yet no less important) objectives using statistics specifically related to a cyber event or attack vectors.

For instance, a cybersecurity department may aim to reduce, on average, the total number of data records compromised in the wake of events. Unfortunately, due to a limited budget, this may not be the most economically sound initiative. Nevertheless, with a drilled-down view of their cyber risk drivers, the team may find that it is strategic to reduce this data record loss statistic specifically for an event caused by a phishing scam.

Figure 4: CRQ offers drilled-down loss metrics according to initial attack vectors, such as phishing. 

With access to these finer details, CISOs can pursue innovative ways of improving cybersecurity KPIs while simultaneously balancing the broader organizational constraints.   

Accessing Deeper Benchmarking Insights

Benchmarking an organization's overall cyber risk expected frequency and potential severities against other companies within the industry, as well as across industries, can offer crucial information for determining appropriate mitigation strategies\ and risk appetite levels. These comparisons can also provide solid leverage for CISOs requesting additional resources, especially if key industry peers have a less threatening risk landscape than their organization. 

Still, with a CRQ tool that can illuminate frequency and severity benchmarks of distinct events and attack vectors, the CISO is all the more informed of how their business measures up against competitors. The more specific and detailed the benchmarking information is, the more likely it is that cybersecurity leaders can harness it when developing resiliency plans. 

Investing in More-Developed Incident Response Plans

The deeper view of risk likewise enables CISOs to invest in incident plans for scenarios that are most likely to occur. For instance, in Figure 5, the CRQ assessment has determined that should the evaluated organization fall victim to a phishing scam, then, out of the possible events that could ensue, it is most likely that the phishing attack will cause a business interruption. 

Figure 5: CRQ platforms can zoom in on an organization’s likelihood of experiencing various events due to a phishing scam. 

Using this information, a CISO may then decide that it’s worth it to hone their organization’s incident response plan regarding phishing scams, making it more relevant towards one that results in a business interruption rather than a ransomware event. These drilled-down insights may likewise facilitate more targeted cybersecurity drills that better reflect the risk landscape. The more granular the details available are, the more customized the response plans can be. 

Fostering Enhanced Boardroom-Level Discussions

Harnessing an on-demand financial cyber risk quantification platform to zoom in on their organization’s landscaping empowers and readies CISOs for high-level meetings. These cybersecurity leaders cannot only communicate their newfound capabilities of planning more targeted risk initiatives and optimizing cyber spending but also directly prove they have done so.

By translating complex cyber metrics and achievements into event likelihood reduction and minimized financial implications, executives can tangibly grasp how much work the CISO has done to maximize available resources. Moreover, with the common business terminology, stakeholders can meaningfully contribute to the discussions, asking the questions necessary to bolster cybersecurity programs. 

A Multi-Layered Perspective for High-End Cyber Resilience

When building cybersecurity management strategies, it’s not enough for a CISO to merely assess the risk landscape from a broad lens. Although the zoomed-out perspective offers crucial information, without which cybersecurity leaders would not be able to formulate data-driven plans that align with overall business goals, they need to augment these insights with more granular details. 

With the macro and micro views of their organization’s cyber risk landscape offered by cyber risk quantification, CISOs are more equipped than ever to optimize their cybersecurity budgets and ensure initiatives have been prioritized based on objective, real-world data. Only with both of these perspectives does the road to achieving cyber resilience become the most apparent. 

To learn more about how Kovrr’s CRQ platform offers both the broad and drilled-down views of an organization’s cyber risk, contact one of our experts today or schedule a free demo.

Yakir Golan

CEO

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