risk management process planning

Eliminating Uncertainty in your Cybersecurity Strategy Through Risk Management Planning

This post was last updated on August 10th, 2021 at 06:00 pm

In this guest post from Reciprocity Labs we discuss the importance of having a comprehensive strategy when it comes to cybersecurity. It begins early in your risk planning processes by identifying where your vulnerabilities and liabilities are in your infrastructure and continues for the length of your company’s life through regular auditing and implementation of processes and hardware that safeguard your stack from malicious actors including exploits with no historical precedent (zero day attacks and vulnerabilities) and how to mitigate them.

The world is full of uncertainties which makes risk management in organizations a necessity. The future safety of your data is not always guaranteed! The evolution of technology has led to the continuous invention of sophisticated techniques that malicious individuals may use to compromise your data. As such, you should take control of the private data and devise mechanisms to protect it.

Cybercriminals can identify a single gap in your security systems and use it to compromise your data. Such an action will lead to an avalanche of data breaches in various departments of your organization. The domino effect would be loss of business and customer trust which risks the survival of your organization.

Risk Management Planning

What is the Risk Management Process?

Risk management is a process that aims at developing structures to help in data protection. The process involves several methods including:

  • Risk Identification
    This entails identifying the gaps that exist in your security systems. These gaps can be utilized by criminals to advance their ill intentions of compromising your data. To guarantee the success of this step, it’s necessary that you involve the employees, the heads of all departments, and any other stakeholders who interact with the data systems regularly
  • Risk Analysis
    Once you’ve identified the risk, it is necessary that you perform an analysis to determine the probability of occurrence and the impact that it would have on the business. This is crucial since it helps in prioritizing and determining the ideal mitigation process to use for specific risks
  • Risk Mitigation
    After the analysis, you will now define the exact mechanisms that your organization will employ to prevent the occurrence of the risk

The entire risk management process requires intensive meeting sessions among all the employees and other stakeholders. What’s worse is the fact that you’ll be required to make a lot of lists which can be cumbersome. Stay vigilant at this stage rather than tire and regret in the future after cybercriminals wreak havoc in your organization!

The assessment process should always be holistic; ensure that it covers all the departments. However, you should give preference to the sections that directly interact with the company’s data. Ensure that you make a candid analysis of the potential risks that exist in the storage, transmission, and information sharing sections.

After the identification of the potential risks, you will need to make a second list that will evaluate the severity of the risks. This will help you to rank them in order of urgency. When doing this, ensure that you consider the financial, trust, and business implications that an occurrence of a specific risk can cause to the organization. Also, consider the probability of the data being breached and always give preference to the most vulnerable information.

Finally, you will need to create a third list that will explain the criteria that will be applied to determine the risk mitigation approach. You should ensure that you justify the process to be initiated at each stage. There are four conventional approaches that you can adopt including accepting, transferring, mitigation, or rejecting the risk. Ensure that you include an elaborate plan of how you will implement whichever approach that you utilize.

Those are a lot of lists. Right? Well, the hassle is worth it since ignorance will be more hurting both to you and your organization! You’d rather take precautionary steps now that regret in the future.

Analysis of Potential Impact In Case of a Risk Occurrence

Securing information is a complicated process that requires a holistic approach to guarantee the best results. The analysis should project the probability of risk occurrence and the damage that it would cause to your organization.

As such, you will need to perform extensive research using data from both within the organization and other organizations who have faced similar risks in the past. This will help you to categorize the risk events in categories which will enhance the efficiency of the security systems. Using the past statistics and events will help you to collect sufficient data that will ensure that you foresee all the risks and estimate the impact that their occurrence would have on your business.

Vendor Data Breach

Data breach associated with vendors can be heart-wrenching. According to research conducted by the Ponemon Institute, approximately 56% of all the cases of data breaches reported in 2017 were caused by third-party vendors. Also, the average payout may rise to up to $7,350,000 (in terms of business loss, fines, and remediation). As such, the occurrence of these risks is a significant threat to your business!

Malicious Attacks

These attacks that are primarily meant to destroy or deny you access to your data. According to Verizon Data Breach Insights Report released in 2018, an estimated 73% of all cyber-attacks are implemented by highly organized criminal gangs with malicious intentions. Out of the 53,308 security incidents reported in 2018, 2,216 entailed breach of data and 21,409 consisted of situations where the criminals denied access to data.

Insider Issues

In some cases, insiders may threaten the safety of data in your organization. The end-users and system administrators may be compromised and corrupt the data for their selfish interests or personal gain. Also, the social engineering of departments like customer service accounts for a significant proportion of data disclosures where bad actors fool employees to provide information that should not be disclosed.

Why You Need a Risk Assessment Matrix

Your risk assessment matrix should comprise both qualitative and quantitative risk reviews. The combination will allow you to make a detailed assessment of all the risks as well as the likelihood of the risk occurring. For example, a given risk may have minimal chances of occurrence, but it would cause large financial and trust dents on the business if it occurs. While ranking the risks, you should ensure that you consider all of its aspects to ensure that you have an all-inclusive and accurate risk management list.

Project Management Approach: Application to Cybersecurity Risk Management Plan

A security-first approach will help you to develop and test the efficiency of your risk management plan before the implementation phase. To achieve this, it’s advisable that you apply the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) which will help you to organize the responsibilities of the internal stakeholders thus ensuring a seamless flow of tasks and subtasks. You should ensure that you involve everyone in the institution to help them understand the magnitude and the importance of the program. The chief information officer (CISO) should brief all the departmental heads and assign them roles to ensure a successful implementation of the risk management plan.

Use of Project Management to Establish Cybersecurity Risk Mitigation Strategies

Assuming that CISO is the project management working with the IT department, the intensive coordination of activities among the team members will ensure that your organization yields an implementable plan.

Project management involves proper coordination of both the internal and external stakeholders to achieve a common goal. Similarly, cybersecurity has a common objective of ensuring that the organization aligns with specific standards and regulations. As such, the team should develop strategies to ensure that all the controls conform to the requirements of these standards.

It’s essential that you continuously review the controls to identify abnormalities earlier enough which will trigger the protection mechanism thus thwarting possible threats. You will use the project management approach where you’ll develop a contingency plan for potential threats and have them regularly monitored and evaluated. While this may appear cumbersome, you can always use software to monitor the systems and give feedback regularly.

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