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.

Security Risk Management [Information Risk & Assessment]

What Is 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.

The InfoSec Institute defines security management within the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) framework with the following components:

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.

What Is Cybersecurity Risk Management?

Digging a little deeper, cybersecurity risk management is the process of identifying, assessing, and prioritizing risks and developing strategies to manage them. This process typically involves assessing the potential threats, identifying critical assets, evaluating the impact of risks to those assets, selecting and implementing strategies to mitigate potential risks, and regularly monitoring and reporting on the effectiveness of those strategies. It is an essential part of any organization’s security program.

Organizations need to manage their cybersecurity risks in order to protect their sensitive data and systems from malicious actors. In the digital age, cyber threats are continually evolving, making it essential for companies to stay on top of emerging threats and take proactive steps to protect against them. Cybersecurity risk management helps organizations identify and address any weaknesses in their cybersecurity strategies before they become a problem. It also helps organizations prioritize their cybersecurity investments and ensure that their security program meets the requirements of their industry. Additionally, taking proactive steps to manage cyber risks can help organizations reduce financial losses and stay compliant with government regulations. By investing in robust cybersecurity programs, companies can help protect their valuable data and systems from theft, fraud, and other malicious attacks.

Businesses benefit from having a cybersecurity risk management plan in place by reducing their risk exposure, mitigating security vulnerabilities, and improving their overall security posture. A well-structured risk management plan can help organizations identify and prioritize their security measures, anticipate potential threats, and create a risk mitigation strategy. Additionally, it can help organizations identify and invest in the most effective cybersecurity measures and ensure that all areas of their security program are adequately protected. With a comprehensive risk management plan in place, organizations can reduce their risk, improve their security posture, and mitigate potential damages associated with security breaches.

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:

1. 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 (SaaS) or internal user portals.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

What Industries Require a Security Risk Assessment for Compliance?

There are many industries that require security risk assessments for compliance. Some of the most common ones include:


Hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and conduct regular risk assessments to protect patients’ sensitive health information.


Banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions must comply with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) and assess their security risks to protect consumers’ financial information.


Federal, state, and local government agencies must comply with a variety of regulations and guidelines, such as FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act), NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) Cybersecurity Framework, and others, to protect sensitive government data.


Schools, colleges, and universities must comply with FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and assess their security risks to protect students’ academic records.


Companies that process credit card transactions must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and assess their security risks to protect consumers’ credit card information.


Law firms and legal services must comply with the American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct and assess their security risks to protect clients’ confidential information.

Energy and Utilities

Energy companies must comply with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) standards and assess their security risks to protect critical infrastructure.


Airlines, airports, and other transportation companies must comply with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations and assess their security risks to protect travelers and cargo.


Technology companies that develop and sell software and hardware must comply with various regulations and standards, such as ISO 27001, and assess their security risks to protect customer data and intellectual property.

Any industry that handles sensitive data, critical infrastructure, or public safety concerns will likely require a security risk assessment for compliance with various regulations and standards. It is important for these industries to regularly assess and manage their security risks to ensure the protection of individuals and organizations.

Cyber Risk Management Frameworks

Cyber risk management frameworks are structured approaches that are used to identify, measure, assess, and prioritize cyber risks, as well as to manage and mitigate them effectively. These frameworks provide a systematic and integrated way of managing cyber risks by breaking down the process into various stages and activities, usually in a step-by-step process. Some of the commonly used frameworks are:

1. NIST Cybersecurity Framework

This framework was developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the U.S., and it provides a set of guidelines, standards, and best practices for managing and mitigating cyber risks.

2. ISO/IEC 27001

This is an international standard that provides a framework for information security management systems (ISMS). It focuses on the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information, and provides a systematic approach for managing information security risks.


This framework was developed by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) and provides a governance framework for IT management. It combines a set of processes, control objectives, and metrics to manage and mitigate IT-related risks, including cyber risks.


The Factor Analysis of Information Risk (FAIR) framework is a quantitative approach to risk management that focuses on identifying, analyzing, and prioritizing cyber risks based on their impact on an organization’s objectives. It uses a set of mathematical models and algorithms to estimate the probability and impact of cyber risks.

5. CIS Controls

The Center for Internet Security (CIS) Controls is a set of best practices that organizations can use to improve their cyber defenses. It is a prioritized list of security measures that can be implemented to protect against the most common cyber threats.

Regardless of which framework is used, it is important for organizations to adopt a systematic and integrated approach to managing cyber risks. This includes identifying and assessing cyber risks, developing and implementing risk mitigation strategies, and continuously monitoring and improving upon their cybersecurity posture.

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:

1. Remediation of Risks

The act of implementing measures to remove, fix, or partially eliminate the risk.

2. Mitigation of Risks

Lessening the impact of the potential vulnerability through organizational means, typically by implementing surrounding security measures rather than fixing the immediate risk.

3. Acceptance of Risks

Determining that the risk is acceptable from a business or IT standpoint and doing nothing.

4. Transference of Risks

Moving responsibility or potential impact from the vulnerability. For example, moving data around or purchasing breach insurance to counteract financial fallout.

5. Avoidance of Risks

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)


Penetration Testing

At Least Once Per Year

Vulnerability Scanning


How to Manage Cybersecurity Risk From One Platform

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 Private Content Network supports secure data management and governance policies as well as risk management and analytics.

To see how Kiteworks minimizes sensitive content communications risks, sign up for a personalized demo today.


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