Security risk management can prevent weak areas in your company from being overlooked and preyed upon by outside attackers.
What is security risk management? Risk management is a process a company goes through to identify risk areas. This process should happen continually, and after a risk is found, it should be handled appropriately.
What Are Security and Threat Management?
In modern IT and business operations, cybersecurity is a top priority. The reality of data-driven commerce is that most consumer and business information is stored in digital spaces where security threats and vulnerabilities could have real, lasting harm to people and companies.
Following that, many businesses and third-party security firms conduct what are generally known as threat assessments. These assessments consider the infrastructure and capabilities of an organization, the data they store, the types of communications and interactions they have with the outside world, and compare these factors against existing threats.
- Security Model. This includes the baseline controls and decision-making regarding security within an organization based on IT infrastructure, business goals, and compliance requirements from regulations like HIPAA, GDPR, or PCI DSS.
- Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability. In terms of data management, confidentiality refers to privacy of data, integrity to the continued stability of that data, and availability to users as needed.
- Security Governance. Most organizations of any size should have a governing body to manage security policies and procedures, headed by a chief technology officer, a chief information security officer, or a compliance officer.
- Policies and Procedures. To successfully manage issues, an organization can and should have comprehensive data governance and cybersecurity policies to handle plans for configuration changes, upgrades, employee training, etc.
- Business Continuity. Security is about the ability of a business to continue operations. This includes the ability to resume operations after system breaches, mitigate breaches as they happen, and remediate problem areas as they emerge.
- Risk Management. The cornerstone of risk management, risk is the measurement of potential security threats in an IT infrastructure against business and technical goals. The amount of risk a company will take on can differ between organizations, industries, or even times of year.
- Threat Modeling. A more concrete way of modeling security requirements and potential vulnerabilities to mitigate those vulnerabilities. It includes measuring, labeling, and prioritizing threats as needed.
How Does Security Risk Management Work?
Combining these security practices and criteria, organizations can implement risk management policies that allow them to fully and comprehensively understand their risks and inform decision-making about how to address them.
Through the combination of assessing, cataloging, and measuring risk, organizations can move forward with security management by addressing the following four aspects of their security profile:
- Assets: What data assets does an organization have? Where are those assets stored? How do internal and external users interact, change, or contact those assets? In this case, assets can mean something like data in a database or data store, cloud Software-as-a-Service applications or internal user portals.
- Controls: What technologies are in place? Where are these technologies located? Are they updated and configured correctly? Security controls can include encryption algorithms, firewalls, anti-malware technology, or identity and access management software.
- Vulnerabilities: Where are the weak points in the IT system? Where are assets unsecured? Are there potential unsecure places that data passes through? Vulnerabilities are challenging to find, and discovering them can call for regular vulnerability scanning, annual penetration testing, or red team exercises.
- Threats: What is the modern cybersecurity threat landscape? Are new threats emerging? This aspect is often dynamic, and threats can emerge suddenly without warning. Even long-known threats can still pose challenges and call for specific security measures.
By creating concrete security plans and taking stock of the four aspects above, any organization can get a good view of their potential risks and threats.
For more concrete guidelines on risk assessment and unified security, many organizations turn to professional groups like the International Organization for Standardization or the National Institute of Standards and Technology. ISO 31000 and NIST Special Publications 800-39 and 800-53 provide robust risk management frameworks.
How Do Organizations Treat Risks?
How an organization addresses risk will depend on their business model. Different industries will often require or prioritize different approaches to ultimately addressing security issues. Generally speaking, there are five primary ways to treat any risk as it comes up:
- Remediation: The act of implementing measures to remove, fix, or partially eliminate the risk.
- Mitigation: Lessening the impact of the potential vulnerability through organizational means, typically by implementing surrounding security measures rather than fixing the immediate risk.
- Acceptance: Determining that the risk is acceptable from a business or IT standpoint and doing nothing.
- Transference: Moving responsibility or potential impact from the vulnerability. For example, moving data around or purchasing breach insurance to counteract financial fallout.
- Avoidance: Isolating the risk to avoid issues altogether. For example, migrating data to new servers and using riskier devices to handle nonsensitive data.
How Often Should a Company Conduct Risk Assessments?
There are several ways to conduct security assessments. Broadly speaking, the following guidelines are a good starting point for measuring risk and security:
Risk Assessment Tests
Risk Assessment (Full-scale IT Evaluations)
At Least Once Per Year
Maintain Secure Software and Data With Secure and Compliant Platforms
The cornerstone of security management in our modern economy is working with secure providers and vendors. Not only can these vendors supply secure technology, but they can also take mandatory risk management off the plate of an already busy organization.
The Kiteworks content management platform can support secure data management and governance policies as well as risk management and analytics. To see how it works, sign up for a personalized demo today.
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