While the traditional approach to cybersecurity has been to create firewalls, install anti-virus software, or implement other security tools, these measures are no longer enough as today’s enterprise is exposed to a very different threat than just a few short years ago. With the growth of the cloud, BYOD, virtual systems, and even web apps and containers, determining the best way to manage and identify risk in a traditional enterprise environment has gotten even more difficult.
And as this threat landscape continues to evolve, today’s organizations need a holistic, company-wide approach. Especially considering that in addition to maintaining operations and managing risks, you also have to remain in compliance. When different GRC (Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance) activities are managed independently, it can negatively impact operating costs and other GRC matrices. When this happens, it is referred to as the “silo” approach, and it forces organizations to sustain unmanageable numbers of GRC requirements due to changing technologies, the need for increased data storage, and government regulation.
Because of this, it’s important that organizations have a connected GRC approach and instill cyber risk management practices at every level of the organization by creating written information security policies and running regular staff training. The importance of cybersecurity should be realized by everyone in the company, and as security concerns grow, security teams have finally begun to proactively implement security risk as a strategic issue.
Because organizations want and need to know how exposed they are, what assets they’re protecting, and how they’re going to protect them while remaining in compliance. It’s essential that an organization implement the correct policies to ensure all businesses processes and systems are protected from cyber threats. To do this, an organization needs to have the proper security controls and technology to quickly detect and respond when incidents happen.
So how is that accomplished exactly?
Related post: How Threat Risk Assessments May Prevent Data Leaks
With periodic threat risk assessments. A threat risk assessment will help you identify key threats and assets, and also help you establish process and practices to keep those assets safe, remain in compliance, and ultimately improve your GRC program and security posture.
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of a threat risk assessment and how effective risk management can impact an organization operationally, strategically, and financially:
The reason breaches and other security incidents can be so costly is because the criticality of an organization's’ assets, and the protection of these assets is increasing in overall importance. The right people, the right set of technologies, and a culture of compliance and IT security maturity will allow any organization to reap the natural operational benefits, including more appropriate processes and policies, revenue enhancement, higher customer attraction/retention, as well as improved workforce performance and asset protection.
Organizations that have properly assessed their risk and manage GRC activities as a whole are able to implement contingency plans to prepare for any black swan event or cyber attack, providing corporate reassurance and helping to create business continuity. In addition to these benefits, the organization will also be able to function and operate in an efficient, productive environment where all elements work towards the same goal of preventing and detecting attacks while remaining compliant.
When it comes to large enterprises and corporations, visibility is key to identifying potential risk exposure and to ultimately improving your security program. And with an improved security program, CIOs, CSOs, and any security professional can be more aware of what type of threat poses an issue to the company, how they might target the company, and most importantly, why.
By identifying all of those key threats/questions, an organization can then create an effective and efficient contingency plan to protect key assets, allocate their resources more effectively, protect their reputation, streamline and optimize processes, and ultimately improve their overall security program.
The biggest issue with any cyber incident is certainly the cost; whether it’s the direct cost of stolen or lost information, or the indirect cost a breach can have on company shareholders through brand damage, any cyber incident is likely going to be financially significant.
By implementing cyber security protection mechanisms, complying with data regulations, and ultimately creating/drafting an appropriate information security policy, an organization can reap the benefits of avoiding fines and minimizing the financial burden of a potential breach. Organizations can also benefit from better capital allocation, reduced costs with more effective GRC activities, improved security risk management, and even a reduction in the cost of security risks like on insurance premiums.
While assessing external risk to create a contingency plan is a useful and valuable process, it’s only part of the GRC battle. Because a threat risk assessment doesn’t just include external risk, it also includes assessing the biggest threat of all -- employees. And during a threat risk assessment is also a great time to update (or if you don’t have one, create) your information security policy.
When analyzing the risk of a company during a security risk assessment, the organization’s security posture is only as good as its people, processes, and technology. Not to mention, even if you have the best security technology available in place and every potential external threat of disaster planned for, one employee responding to a simple phishing email can be a way in for a hacker that otherwise would have no entry point. This is why an information security policy is also a necessary aspect of risk management. This policy needs to embrace the company’s goals, objectives, and procedures for information security, as well as outline how these procedures can be implemented while remaining compliant.
Ultimately, a well-crafted information security policy will help educate employees, enhance their level of security awareness, and encourage them to use security best practices to minimize the chances and impact of a data breach. This is also an appropriate time to establish rules for user behavior and other IT personnel, as well as to define the consequences of violating these policies. By taking care of this aspect of risk management you can ensure your organization takes a proactive policy on security to minimize risk, ensure proper compliance with regulations and legislation, and improve its security program.
Thus, as threats have evolved, threat risk assessments and up-to-date information security policies are not just important -- they’re essential. With a growing list of threats that includes malware, ransomware, DDoS attacks, and insider threats, it’s imperative that all internal and external risks be assessed and that you have the processes and technology in place to mitigate any potential disasters.