In order to protect your company’s confidential data, it is important to carry out information security risk management regularly. By assessing your organization’s vulnerabilities and implementing steps to mitigate those risks, you can ensure that your data is kept safe.
The goal of information security risk management is to understand what could happen if a particular threat were realized, to assess the likelihood that it will occur and its potential impact on the business, and then take appropriate measures to reduce or eliminate this risk.
Information security risk management is a process that helps identify and assess the risks to an organization’s information assets. By taking steps to mitigate these risks, organizations can protect their data and improve their overall security posture. In this blog post, we will outline the key steps involved in carrying out information security risk management. We will also discuss some of the most common techniques used to measure and mitigate risk. Finally, we will provide a few tips for getting started with information security risk management in your own organization.
Enterprise Risk Management
Risk Management(RM) generally refers to the process of identifying and managing risks. It is a systematic approach to decision-making under uncertainty, and has been described as “the process that identifies relevant risks, assesses their likelihood and impacts, and proposes appropriate countermeasures.”
Enterprise Risk Management (ERM), holistic management of risks in the whole organization depending on the risk management strategy of the organization, risk assessments, and particularly information risk management of critical assets. Sensitive data on critical assets identification by use of risk management methodology of NIST risk management that is a part of cybersecurity risk management fundamentals of the firm depending on the firm internal and external infrastructure.
It is a process for evaluating the risks posed to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information assets by internal and external sources. The assessment involves identifying threats, vulnerabilities, policy violations, and countermeasures to reduce or eliminate these risks.
Information security risk assessment is an essential element in any organization’s IT governance. Its principal aim is to identify potential security risks and vulnerabilities and assess the likelihood of their occurrence. It helps decide on appropriate courses of action for managing those risks.
Any organization or individual can use the information security risk process to determine the level of security required within an organization or environment. The information from the method provides a standard against which actual controls should be compared. Suppose it becomes clear that there are significant omissions or weaknesses in the existing security measures. In that case, changes will need to be made before any reasonable degree of safety or assurance can be claimed. The results of such a process may also act as evidence when an organization has been subjected to an audit, inspection, or review by government authorities who wish to ensure compliance.
The overall process of conducting an information security risk assessment is similar to that used for performing a general business or another form of risk assessment. The main difference is that the scope, duration, and depth are greater because IT systems can be subject to malicious attacks from external sources. There is also often greater sensitivity to the damage resulting from a compromise or failure of security.
Risk Management Process
An information security risk management process comprises Information security policy review, information security planning, information security analysis, design, implementation of information security controls, and monitoring and managing the changes in the risks. The process is not rigorous and can be used by the risk assessors to assess information security.
A risk management process that is derived from risk management strategy will be appropriate for information risk management relying on the NIST risk management framework. risk tolerance and risk appetite thresholds must be outlined for information systems including ways of handling sensitive data. Baseline security controls of information technology include having information security software that prevents malware attacks. Cyber threats caused by unauthorized access will be prevented through baseline security controls.
There need to be strategies for incident response on how to manage risk and treating risks. Risk response might include risk acceptance depending on the organization’s risk profile. Business context and business conditions examining external stakeholders and capabilities developed with appropriate controls. Process owners in line with appropriate controls and business goals will determine business functions data breach levels.
Many organizations leadership team and security professionals will understand business conditions and processes that pose risks and most critical assets determining their risk level.
The following steps are involved when carrying out the information security risk assessment process.
Establishing the Information System level context
The assessment is conducted concerning the information system’s current operating environment, including Immediate threats and risks are identified that contribute to the overall risk profile. These include: Security controls in place at the time of assessment should not be considered a complete or comprehensive list of the security controls that should be in place. Instead, they should be regarded as elements of a basic set of commands that will mitigate many of the threats and vulnerabilities identified within the context of the assessment methodology.
System development life cycle of information security assets including the risk appetite of vendor risk and data assets. The ongoing process entails cybersecurity risks , security, and privacy risks. The risk owner needs to have policies that are aligned with enterprise risk management policy and framework.
The system-level context may be structured or unstructured. Structured information system context data includes, but is not limited to. The security controls currently in place are based on the risk analysis conducted at an integrated architecture level of abstraction. They may not include all appropriate security controls for a specific information system. The security controls currently in place may not be sufficient to reduce the residual risks to an acceptable level.
Risk Management program
It is establishing the information system operational context. The information system active context includes: Immediate risks and threats consist of those threats and vulnerabilities that pose an immediate threat to the organization’s assets. These are anticipated events that may occur in one year or less. Examples include, but are not limited to, power outages, floods, fire, and employee sabotage. The information system operational context may consist of:
The security controls implemented as part of this architecture will not necessarily be examined in a top-down fashion; but rather from the perspective of overall system operations and supporting functional areas within the organization.
Information Security Risk Identification
A fundamental aspect in conducting an information security risk assessment is determining what constitutes a risk and what does not. This determination can become highly subjective depending on who defines it; however, there are some general guidelines for identifying hazards in information security.
Many of these guidelines can be found in the ISO-27001 standard and described as follows: “Information extracted from the relevant documentation and other sources will be assessed for risk of loss, unauthorized release or disclosure, unauthorized destruction, damage, amendment or falsification. This process will be supported by periodic reviews, including an assessment of existing risks and identified trends. The risk of information loss, release or disclosure, unauthorized destruction, damage, amendment, or falsification will need to be assessed falling within the categories.
Information Security Risk Analysis
(Information security risk analysis involves analyzing identified information security risks, which are the threat to information assets, and their corresponding likelihood of occurrence, impact and risk exposure. It also involves assessing costs associated with reducing risks where possible. Information security risk analysis aims to determine overall information security risk exposure and evaluate the effectiveness of implemented controls on identified information risks.
The primary objective of Information Security Risk Analysis is to identify the potential losses from a given threat acting on an asset. This involves calculating the Annualized Loss Expectancy (ALE), which estimates how much money can be expected to be lost from one or more related threats acting on an asset over a specific period.
Information security risk analysis should consider quantitative estimates because information security risks must be measured and managed using consistent units of measure of the cost of security incidents and the probability over time that a specific threat will occur.
A single information risk event may have multiple impacts. For example, computer viruses damage data files and steal sensitive information by scanning networks or host computers for confidential information to send out on the Internet. The probability of these events occurring is very low, but the impacts are considerable.
Information Security Risk Evaluation
Information security risk evaluation involves the process of defining, quantifying, and prioritizing security risks to information systems. Risk evaluation may be used to help assess risk in the context of an enterprise architecture or a more detailed threat and vulnerability analysis for a specific information system. Risk evaluation is driven by the documented requirements for each information system, in which the key performance indicators (KPIs) are defined.
The risk evaluation process can be used in the security accreditation process to identify risks that will compromise system acceptance by an authorized accreditor or assess residual risks after implementing a mitigation strategy designed to reduce information security risks.
The risk evaluation process may be applied at the enterprise architecture level or on a more detailed risk basis for each information system. For example, an organization might identify security risks associated with its Internet-facing systems and assess those risks to inform decisions about which strategies should receive dedicated security resources. The organization might also apply a different risk assessment process to each of its business or support systems by using a hybrid approach that includes components of the risk evaluation and other risk management processes.
Risk evaluation aims to identify, categorize, and prioritize risks based on their likelihood and impact to inform decision-making about how an organization can best address information security threats.
Information Security Risk Treatment
Information security risk treatment guides organizations on effectively implementing an information security management system to control information security risks.
The treatment can vary from one organization to another, depending on its tolerance towards risk and resources available for risk mitigation. It is generally suggested that treatments are devised to address those risks that collectively constitute a material compromise to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the entity’s assets. Treatment should therefore be based on quantitative and qualitative assessments of risk.
Information security risk treatment comprises several activities which can be performed at separate time intervals, according to the organization’s approach. Actions are considered critical for implementation if they address imminent risks.
Information Security Risk Treatment activities can be classified into the following categories:
- Information security policy development
- Internal audit activities
- Management review of information security risk treatment plan by top management to ensure that management support and commitment is secured
- Conduct of business as usual (i.e., organizational operations)
- Identification of controls, management, and monitoring of information security risks
- Security incident management
Information security risk treatment is an ongoing activity that should be performed regularly to ensure that the organization’s information assets are adequately protected against current or future information threats and vulnerabilities.
Information security risk monitoring, reviewing, and consulting based on triggers(change of roles, technology, and environment)
information security risk monitoring involves monitoring the information security risks to identify and analyze the risk factors that may cause an increase or decrease of threats. Information security risk monitoring allows the organization to provide relevant security information to the process of decision making and taking actions.
For organizations to develop a cost-effective, sustainable and measurable approach to their information security, they must balance both their needs in terms of information security controls and the level of investment in these controls against the present risks.
IT Security Risk Management and control is a part of Enterprise Risk management but focuses on IT-related assets such as software, hardware, networks, and databases.
Information security risk reviews are done based on triggers, for example, on instances where there are changes of roles, technology, and environment. This helps to involve the role players from the business side.
Information security risk reviews may cover only a limited area of an organization, with the actual management of risks being delegated to operational managers in the divisions/projects where the information systems are used. Therefore, these reviews should be carried out at divisional levels rather than organization-wide.
As per literature, Information Security Risk Management is a continuous, proactive, and systematic process of identifying, mitigating, monitoring, and controlling information security risks. The primary objective of the ISRM process is to reduce risk to an acceptable level while ensuring the provision of business services securely.
Recording and report writing information security risks
Recording of information security risk assessment through a written report involves a detailed analysis of the risks at hand. This document should be clear and include areas that are not commonly known. It is essential to record all information about each site, including any facts or confidential information in the case of an incident review, to ensure they can be resolved before issues arise. An example of a report section would be; Identification of information security risks (source, type, and severity of the risk). The information should include the contributing factors which can help in identifying where changes need to be made.
In the report, it is essential to understand what information security risks are. It is also necessary to identify the purpose of this document to ensure how it will be used by those who read and understand its contents. There needs to be a detailed explanation of why certain items were recorded or analyzed concerning others
With the vast amount of data breaches happening in today’s world, it is more important than ever to measure and monitor your information security risks. You need a sound risk assessment plan that includes identifying, analyzing, evaluating, treating, and watching all potential vulnerabilities.
We can help you create one with our range of services, including information security risk assessment for organizations looking for an effective way to identify their threats to reduce them before they become costly incidents. Please get started by reaching out to us or reading about how we work on our website here!
Chris Ekai is a Risk Management expert with over 10 years of experience in the field. He has a Master’s degree in Risk Management from University of Portsmouth and is a CPA and Finance professional. He currently works as a Content Manager at Risk Publishing, writing about Enterprise Risk Management, Business Continuity Management and Project Management.