Why 'Probability' is a huge landmine in Cyber Security Risk Quantification (+ how to overcome it)

cyber probability

Cyber Risk Quantification is becoming more familiar and I’m seeing more SME / Large companies and consultants using Quantification methods for clients. But a lot of them have something in common. They’re working on the Probability & Impact methodology, shown brilliantly in the picture below:

cyber risk probability cartoon

* Picture Credits – The Cyber Security Hub

This illustration is one the best ways to illustrate how probability and impact “go together” but also because it’s so clear. But it also blinds Cyber Professionals from seeing the huge landmine which is “Quantifying Probability”

I believe after working for years on Cyber Risk quantification into Financial figures (from consulting through to the development of Boardish) that for the Cyber Security Realm focusing on Probability is a mistake. Allow me to explain:

  1. Cyber Security Threats are evolving MUCH quicker than any “past knowledge” experience that you can determine the probability factor on. For example, with Ransomware, the attack vector for Ransowmare to ‘get into your organization’ is evolving on a DAILY (and sometimes hourly) basis. On day X your Probability is low because all of your machines are patched, but day Y a new security flaw on a core system means probability soars.
  2. Cyber attacks are constantly on the offensive, it’s not a “statistical game” like with car accident insurance. Instead, there is a clear ‘business model’ for your attackers to gain access to your systems and cause damage. They are ACTIVELY trying all the time. It’s not a question of “if I will be attacked” but “When” AND “are Zero-Day exploits scenario going to be used”
  3. You’ll always be wrong when speaking to management. When asked by your management “what is the probability” of Cyber Attack X to happen, most likely you will get the answer wrong. It’s a “catch 22” question – you can’t really get it correct because you have no control on the variables which are constantly changing.

How should I address Probability in Cyber Risk Quantification?:

  1. Always assume Worst Case Scenario When it comes to probability – that’s the only “not wrong” answer. Your responsibility as a cyber professional is to be able to: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond and Recover (The Nist Framework) ANYTIME, ANYWHERE
  2. Focus on the Financial size of the threat impact – when the probability of the threat is ALWAYS HIGH.
  3. Focus on the Efficiency of the solution against the threat – when the probability of the threat is ALWAYS HIGH.
This way the responsibility is on your solutions to protect against overall threats, not asking a thousand ‘what ifs’ to find a solution that may not protect you worst case. What is the point?

So, what’s the alternative to working this out? In Boardish we approach from a solution perspective and have the TPF (Threat Protection Factor). You can see that we have threats and Solutions AND the efficiency of the threats against the solutions.

You can have multiple solution combinations against the threat and, most importantly, you control the efficiency. Based on your specific organizational understanding, experience with solutions, and specific environment.

We don’t “Play” the “Probability” game, its always “HIGH” because this is one “not wrong” (there is no right) answer. You can wake up to a Ransomware attack anytime, anywhere, don’t make the mistake of communicating to your management that you can predict the probability, you cant.

The one thing you can predict is how well solutions can protect against worst case. So use this as your benchmark and you’re a lot closer to being right!

How does the Boardish Framework solve this:

  1. Boardish focuses on the full quantification of the THREAT: Market Loss, Work Days Loss, Sales Loss, and Regulation Loss combined with “how quick the company will recover its market position”
  2. We measure the efficiency of the solution in mitigating the threat, AKA – How efficient is the solution against the threat, We do not automate this process, we believe that its different for each organization, and each IT & Cyber Professionals know/can make a decision based on their specific environment
  3. The Boardish Methodology helps you to quantify the Real and complete solution cost ( including IT & Cyber Labour cost )

sales approval process

The Boardish Methodology shows you very clear decision making metric without the “catch 22” of ‘Probability’

Plus, you can try our solution for free yourself without needing integration etc. at www.boardish.io

If you need help, let me know

Eli Migdal – Co-Founder – Boardish.

Don't play the 'probability game', quantify with Boardish