Technical Expertise

November 10, 2020   •   4 minute read

What Are the Different Types of Cybersecurity Assessments?

The increasing digitization of business operations creates inherent cybersecurity risks. With your company reliant on its software and hardware, a security breach could jeopardize your ability to continue normal operations.

While many business owners and executives understand the importance of cybersecurity, they may not recognize security gaps. The following assessments can help identify weak points and provide critical feedback to minimize such threats. 

Risk Assessment

Risk assessments utilize quantitative and qualitative modeling to examine policies, operations procedures, and infrastructure. The goal is to determine the current level of risk, set an acceptable parameter, and ascertain a way to align the two. This will result in a conversation about risks, including backups, unauthorized access, and other potential holes that threat actors could exploit. The basic questions risk assessments aim to answer are “Do you have risks?” and “Are you mitigating them?”


A review is a lower-end assessment where the tester simply executes a questionnaire covering major risk points without the testing of a full-blown audit. Reviews can be conducted internally with a risk guidance tool, but an independent assessment by a cybersecurity expert may be more thorough and unbiased.


An audit is a comprehensive form of risk assessment that assesses and then tests the effectiveness of controls that protect corporate assets. An audit may check multiple facets of your cybersecurity programs, including backup and redundancy capabilities, disaster recovery/business resumption plans, vulnerability management, confidentiality, authentication, and more. Audits usually use best practices to measure risk levels.


Standards-based risk assessments are engagements that utilize a specific standard or framework (such as NIST) to verify compliance and award certification. Major certification-based assessments include:

  • SOC 2: Conducted by a certified public accountant (CPA), this assessment evaluates the design and operation of policies, controls, and procedures related to security, confidentiality, privacy, and integrity. System and Organization Controls (SOC) 2 certification signifies adherence to these high standards, and can foster trust among potential clients.
  • ISO 27001: International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 27001 compares the information security management system (ISMS) to the organization’s policies, procedures, and practices to determine whether they meet the established standards. The results can help businesses optimize their operations to reduce risk while instilling confidence in their defenses. 
  • CMMC: The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) reviews cybersecurity standards and maps the maturity level of controls to provide direction for improvement. The five-level CMMC model was launched in January of 2020 to provide guidance and standards for businesses working with controlled unclassified information (CUI) from the US government. A CMMC certification will be required for any business doing business with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) by 2026.  

Penetration Testing

Penetration tests, or pen tests for short, consist of purposely attacking a company’s system to identify weaknesses before a threat actor does. These tests are used to gauge the system’s strengths and weaknesses and validate the effectiveness of security controls

The Range of Pen Tests 

The complexity and cost of pen tests vary widely. On the low end, vulnerability assessments are automated tests using commercial testing tools. The most complex are full “Red Team” attacks, sometimes called adversary simulation, which have a narrower target, closely mimicking real attacks to pinpoint exploitable security holes

Compromise Assessment 

A compromise assessment is a threat hunt in which analysts look for evidence that hackers have already breached defenses. If you think of a penetration test as an exercise of “Can I be hacked?,” then a compromise assessment is answering the question “Am I already hacked?” Compromise assessments use a combination of automated survey tools coupled with expertise to analyze and interpret the results.

Breach & Attack Simulation

Breach and attack simulation (BAS) is a relatively new evaluation that focuses on testing the effectiveness of an organization’s existing measures, such as antivirus programs, spam filters, and other cybersecurity tools, and assigns a score for the configuration and level of protection. A BAS attempts to answer the question “How easy am I to hack?” by running thousands of automated attack scenarios to test their effectiveness against your cyber protections. Using a BAS tool does not usually require expertise, so your security or IT team can run tests in-house.

Conducting in-house cybersecurity assessments can be complicated and time consuming. Cybersafe Solutions provides customized assessments to identify security gaps. Our experts simulate real attack techniques so that we find your system’s weaknesses before cybercriminals do. SOL XDR further safeguards your business by spotting potential threats before they become disastrous.