Written by: Daniel Haurey on 11/29/22

Let’s get real here. Many small to midsize businesses feel safe from all the chatter about cyber attacks. But with the average United States data breach costing $9.44 million, it’s becoming increasingly clear that businesses need to take risk management and cybersecurity seriously.

Investing the time to complete a cybersecurity assessment checklist can be a critical first step in improving an organization’s security architecture. By walking through a thorough threat assessment checklist, an organization can reduce its risk level and improve its ability to secure sensitive data by simply slowing down and taking the time to dig into often-overlooked security basics.

Let’s review the processes behind creating a cybersecurity risk assessment checklist and explore how businesses can leverage a checklist to strengthen their security posture nearly immediately.

What is a Cybersecurity Assessment Checklist?

Simply put, cyber risk assessments reveal an organization’s vulnerabilities across its infrastructure. As with any project, fully understanding the scope and status quo of your environment is the first step toward improvement. You can’t fix what you can’t see.

Assessments include scanning servers, processes, policies, hardware, connected devices, and data for weaknesses. Following the assessment, organizations can identify potential security threats often before threats and vulnerabilities have an opportunity to impact operations. Proactive monitoring, scanning and action is the foundation for successful cybersecurity–and a security risk assessment checklist is the first step of that process.

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7-Step Cybersecurity Assessment Checklist

The core objectives of threat assessment checklist are to help businesses to:

  • Evaluate risks
  • Identify security threats
  • Mitigate real-time vulnerabilities
  • Strengthen your organization’s resiliency

1. Identify High-Value Assets

Servers, sensitive client information, intellectual property, domains, and financial records are examples of high-value assets to identify across a business. Once identified and cataloged, the next step is evaluating potential risks that can impact systems, processes, and networks.

2. Assess and Understand Potential Risks

Knowing the legal and financial ramifications of exposure of those high-value assets can inspire businesses to focus on tighter policies around information security risk and be better prepared for the unexpected, such as data hack or ransomware. Understanding the impact across our business and your customers’ companies can balance the investment that may be required to improve your organization’s security stance.

3. Identify Threats and Vulnerabilities

A cybersecurity audit help businesses to identify threats, such as:

  • Human error
  • System failure
  • Natural disasters
  • Malicious exploitations

From there, a security team can pinpoint vulnerabilities across an infrastructure, such as outdated security policies, unpatched software, and ineffective access control, just to name a few.

4. Evaluate Risks

Identify risks and classify their severity from low, medium, to high. Next, create detailed solutions for every medium- to high-risk scenario, including the costs incurred if each scenario were to occur. Don’t overlook “soft” costs such as damaged reputation and crisis communications to clients and the public.

For more relevant information related to cybersecurity, visit the following blogs:

5. Develop a Risk Management Plan

Once you’ve collected information from across your organization, use that data to create a risk management plan. This step pulls your research and use cases into one view, enabling a strategic review.

For reference, here’s an example:

Risk Management Plan Example



Assets (& Consequences)



DDoS attacks


Firewalls are correctly configured and possess DDoS mitigation


Domains will be down.


(Potential losses of up to $5,600 per minute).


Monitor firewall or outsource firewall-as-a-

Natural disasters like  tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes


Servers are on the base floor – is the room always dry and who has access to the server room?


Servers may be at risk, which could result in downtime.



No actions required

Human-based errors such as accidental file deletion and BEC (business email compromise).


User permissions are accurately configured, software patches are done, and backups are regularly occurring.


Sometimes data loss can’t be prevented, although it should be able to be fully-restored. An example would include files on a file share drive.



Ensure 24/7 monitoring tighten user access, and deploy backups

6. Develop and Implement a Strategy

Now that you’ve reviewed and considered both the current state of your security stance and potential threat scenarios, it is time to create and deploy a comprehensive security plan that actively mitigates vulnerabilities, improves infrastructure resiliency, and ensures improvements from the audit checklist are being adopted by the organization as a whole.

7. Implement Risk Mitigation Processes

While a security risk assessment can improve security posturing, it’s impossible to foresee all the events that may happen to an infrastructure. For those reasons, knowing the steps involved in those processes, and why, will go a long way.

Example: Risk Mitigation Process (Network Outage)

  1. Event (network event)
  2. Response (use disaster recovery plan to get online)  
  3. Evaluation (discover why network outage occurred)
  4. Mitigation (resolve issues and implement IT resolutions)

Stay Protected With Our Cybersecurity Assessment Checklist

Without a complete cybersecurity risk assessment checklist, you may face increased downtime and inefficiencies that impact your business and customer relationships.

For most businesses, that’s a risk that could be catastrophic. Fortunately, with our team of security experts in your corner, all that can be avoided. With more than 25 years of business experience, we’ve seen (and dealt) with it all and know how to keep your business protected.

Take time to shore up your organization’s digital defenses today.

Contact us at our local office and speak with a trusted representative for more information regarding our IT services.