Why You Should Perform Risk Management and Threat Assessments

Why You Should Perform Risk Management and Threat Assessments

In Security by Daniel NewmanLeave a Comment

Why You Should Perform Risk Management and Threat Assessments

We are constantly talking about cyber security threats and breaches. Hundreds of companies, large and small, experienced attacks last year, while many more experienced threats and worked to prevent attacks. Part of a strong cybersecurity protection plan is monitoring systems for outside threats in order to shut them down before they become a problem. Because there is no way of knowing how many attacks have been prevented, it begs the question: Are all threats created equal?

When you’re monitoring a system, it’s nearly impossible to know if what you’re seeing is a threat on a grand scale or just a small blip. Cybercrime has evolved into multifaceted, sophisticated attacks. Criminals are working in large teams, carrying out long-lasting operations that follow a specific “business model.” Cyber security is more important now than ever. Here’s what you need to know about threat management and monitoring.

Identify Types of Threats

Today’s digital world functions under the reality that it is constantly at risk. Business and individuals alike must manage those risks to effectively limit their exposure to threats. The first step to risk management is properly assessing it. While every risk assessment is different depending upon respective business goals and the systems in place, all assessments include the following basic types of threats:

  • Unauthorized access: Either malicious or accidental, unauthorized access results from things like malware, purposeful hacking, or even internal threats.
  • Misuse of information (or privilege): This happens when an authorized user either uses or makes changes to data without approval or permission.
  • Data leakage or unintentional exposure of information: Accidentally sending sensitive information to the wrong recipient, succumbing to phishing attacks, and transmitting files over unsecure channels are all ways data and information are inadvertently shared.
  • Loss of data. Poor replication and back-up processes are often to blame for loss of data.
  • Disruption of service or productivity. This is one is self-explanatory, and is included in most risk assessments.

Once risks have been identified, subsequent steps of the assessment include determining risk impact, assessing your control environment, determining a likelihood rating such as high, medium, and low, and finally, calculating your risk rating. The entire assessment is meant to be considered an ongoing, continual process, one that should be revisited regularly in order to maintain the highest level of cybersecurity. Once you understand your company’s resiliency, you can effectively quantify your risk management data.

Quantify Your Risk Management Data

Many businesses don’t even realize they’re under attack until it’s too late. Experts have found this is due to lack of preparation, and also a little bit of “playing ostrich.” Sticking your proverbial head in the cyber sand won’t mitigate risk—only proper preparation will.

Preparation begins with identifying and addressing potential gaps in your security to improve your business’s continuity. Data sets quantify these gaps, then put them in order of importance so companies can better prioritize and manage risks. Ensuring your company is working with quality data is the first and most important step to effective quantifying. Industry analyst Fran Howarth addresses the challenge of poor-quality data, noting, “Information needs to be aggregated across functional areas so risk management strategies can be set at an organizational level.” She encourages companies to report all risks, no matter how big or small, as increased sharing means better informed risk management strategies in the future.

Data must also be up to industry standards as to improve risk management practices. Companies are advised to follow the standards set by The National Institute of Standards and Technology, which also includes guidelines and practices for protecting infrastructure. Specifically, NIST offers a hybrid cloud risk management model that “groups activities into three categories based on the level at which they address risk-related concerns.” In keeping with Howarth’s suggestion for organizing threat responses, the NIST uses the following categories to sort activities and concerns:

  • Tier One: organization level
  • Tier Two: mission and business process level
  • Tier Three: information system level

Kevin Jackson, CEO/Founder of the GovCloud Network, lauds an effective approach to hybrid risk management: “Addressing these activities in reverse order, the NIST Risk Management Framework (RMF) provides a disciplined and structured process for integrating tier 3 enterprise information security with risk management activities.” Though it is understood this framework is but a professional recommendation and not an exact science, adhering to it helps companies improve their security programs.

We must invest in quantifying cyber risk if we hope to manage it. This is not only true for companies, but for every individual’s cybersecurity. Sharing insights is an important part of gathering information to make the right decisions and keep cyber space safe. The best way to ensure an informed outcome is always through high-quality data.

This post was brought to you by IBM Global Technology Services. For more content like this, visit IT Biz Advisor.

Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.