Cybersecurity Assessment

What Is a Cybersecurity Assessment?

A cybersecurity assessment is a comprehensive and systematic review of an organization’s hardware infrastructure, software ecosystem, processes, and policies. It’s intended to help an organization improve its security controls and address potential vulnerabilities. Systems that may be evaluated during a cybersecurity assessment include:

  • Network devices such as firewalls, switches, and routers
  • Workstations
  • Data governance, security, and hygiene
  • Physical security measures such as CCTV, access controls, etc.
  • The effectiveness of current cybersecurity awareness training
  • Current security procedures, policies, and processes
  • Access controls such as identity and access management
  • Implementation and utilization of cybersecurity tools
  • Current password practices
  • Software lifecycle management
  • Software vulnerabilities

Categories of Cybersecurity Assessments

A cybersecurity assessment can generally be broken down into five components, each of which complements the others.


A technical assessment directly evaluates an organization’s systems and security controls. It’s primarily concerned with identifying and addressing misconfigurations, hardware problems, and software vulnerabilities. It may also include evaluating your current security infrastructure and whether it’s effective.


A compliance assessment examines how well your organization adheres to regulatory guidelines and cybersecurity standards. It tends to focus on the effectiveness of security controls alongside security policies and data governance processes. A compliance assessment may also evaluate an organization’s overall security posture by measuring it against an accepted standard or framework such as NIST.


An organizational assessment is all about cybersecurity awareness and corporate culture. It examines a business’s processes and policies, as well as the overall cyber hygiene of its employees. It often takes the form of mock cybersecurity exercises—for example, a staged social engineering attack.


Typically referred to as either a cyber risk assessment or a cybersecurity risk assessment, a risk assessment focuses on identifying potential threats to your organization. Performing a risk assessment helps security teams better understand their unique threat landscape while also helping them more effectively prioritize the threats the organization may face.


What security controls or software does the organization have in place, and how effective are those tools at protecting it from potential threats? Is the security stack streamlined and consolidated, or a bloated mess that leaves its security team struggling with alert fatigue? Does the organization even have a security team?
These are the questions that a cyber maturity assessment seeks to answer. Rather than assessing broad corporate policies or end-user software, it directly examines the security controls in place and how effectively they’re implemented.

Why Cybersecurity Assessments Are Important

Cybercriminals are more innovative, more organized, and more sophisticated than ever. They’re also more numerous. In today’s landscape, it’s not a question of if an organization will be the target of a cyberattack—it’s more a matter of when. 

Regular cybersecurity assessments help ensure that when a threat actor eventually does set their sights on an organization, it isn’t an easy target. They shore up defenses, improving security postures while patching any gaps that an adversary may have used to access systems.

Depending on the industry, an organization may be required to perform regular security assessments and audits to remain compliant.

Ultimately, the reality is that no matter how advanced threat actors become, they will always choose the path of least resistance. That’s why it’s so crucial to be proactive. Because the more mindful, knowledgeable, and prepared a security team is, the less attractive its organization is as a target.  

What’s the Difference Between a Cybersecurity Assessment and a Cybersecurity Audit?

A cybersecurity audit is about validating the steps taken to secure an organization. A third-party auditor examines systems and policies and any implemented enforcement mechanisms. This differs from a security assessment because the auditor typically doesn’t test security controls—their role is to ensure those controls are in place.

What’s the Difference Between a Cybersecurity Assessment and a Cyber Risk Assessment?

A cybersecurity risk assessment is part of a cybersecurity assessment. It identifies and prioritizes potential risks based on their potential business impact. A cyber risk assessment lays the groundwork for further testing and evaluation, as it gives an organization an idea of where to direct its focus.

When to Perform a Cybersecurity Assessment

An organization should perform a full cybersecurity assessment at least once or twice yearly. This is more a matter of general housekeeping, as it helps evaluate any ongoing weaknesses or shortcomings in an organization’s security posture. Beyond that, certain circumstances should also trigger an assessment:

  • Following a successful cyberattack or security incident
  • Infrastructure or organizational structure change. Examples include:
    • Merger/acquisition
    • Network upgrade
    • System migration
    • New software/hardware deployment
  • Regulatory requirements
  • You should also evaluate and monitor the ecosystem on an ongoing basis, as well, leveraging real-time Cyber Threat Intelligence alongside security tools such as Endpoint Protection and Extended Detection and Response (XDR)

Performing a Cybersecurity Assessment

To perform a cybersecurity assessment:

  1. Define the objective: Why are you performing this assessment?
  2. Identify the scope: What systems are you assessing?
  3. Determine the best approach: Should you attempt to tackle this internally or bring in a third party to assist?
  4. Carry out the assessment
  5. Evaluate the results: What have you learned from this assessment, and how might you employ that knowledge?
Protect your organization with expert cybersecurity guidance. The BlackBerry Security Services team can help you secure your people, information, and network from whatever cybersecurity challenges you face—whether your environment is on-premise, cloud-based, or part of the Internet of Things.