As your company embraces its digital transformation strategy, its reliance on cloud service providers (csps) increases. with more vendors accessing your information, the complexity of your enterprise risk management program increases. A committed supplier doesn’t even need to be a company you do business with.
In addition to third-party providers, fourth or fifth service providers that experience a data breach can make your organization’s information vulnerable to malicious actors. Understanding information risk management and how to mitigate these risks can be the first step in protecting yourself and your customers.
what is information risk?
Information risk is an estimate based on the likelihood that an unauthorized user will adversely affect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the data it collects, transmits, or stores. more specifically, you must review all data assets to ensure:
- confidentiality: establish and enforce appropriate authorization controls so that only users who need access have access
- integrity: establish and apply controls that prevent information from being changed without the permission of the data owner
- availability: establish and enforce controls that prevent systems, networks, and software from going down
what is information technology (it) risk management?
IT risk management, also called “information security risk management,” consists of the policies, procedures, and technologies that an enterprise uses to mitigate threats from malicious actors and reduce IT vulnerabilities. information technology that adversely affect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data. .
what is the importance of risk management for you?
By identifying and analyzing potential vulnerabilities with an enterprise IT network, organizations can better prepare for cyber attacks and work to minimize the impact of a cyber incident, should it occur. The procedures and policies implemented with an IT risk management program can help guide future decision-making about how to control risk while focusing on business goals.
what are the five steps in the information risk management process?
critical steps that organizations participating in an it risk management (irm) program must take include identifying the location of the information, analyzing the type of information, prioritizing the risk, establishing a risk tolerance for each active data and continuously monitor the company. is network.
Let’s explore what each of these steps looks like and why each is relevant to an effective IT risk management program:
1. identify potential points of vulnerability
Conceptually, identifying the locations where your data resides seems pretty simple. most organizations start with their databases or collaborative applications. however, as more companies adopt cloud-based or cloud-only strategies, data becomes more dispersed and vulnerable to cyber threats.
Organizations no longer store data solely on local servers. many now use serverless or other cloud-based storage locations, such as shared drives. Additionally, many organizations collect data in new ways, such as through customer-facing web portals. New data transmission channels, such as email and messaging services, are also changing the way organizations share information with internal and external stakeholders.
Cloud-based data collection, transmission, and storage locations present a higher risk of theft because organizations often lack visibility into the effectiveness of their controls. therefore, server hardware in an on-premises location may present less risk than a cloud-based server. When participating in an information risk assessment, you need to identify the large number of locations and users who “touch” your information.
2. parse data types
Not only do you need to know where your data resides, you also need to know what data you collect. not all data types are created equal. Personally Identifiable Information (PII) includes things like name, date of birth, social security number, or even IP address. Since malicious actors often target pii because they can sell it on the dark web, the information is a high-risk asset.
Meanwhile, it also stores low-risk information, such as marketing copy. if malicious actors get a copy of a blog post, for example, they can’t sell it online.
Identifying the types of data your organization stores and aligning them with the locations where you store your information acts as the basis for your risk analysis.
3. assess and prioritize information risk
Now that you’ve reviewed all of your data assets and classified them, you need to analyze the risk. each type of data asset resides in a particular location. you must determine how the risk each presents overlaps with and impacts a malicious actor’s attack potential. the best way to do this is to compute:
risk level = probability of a data breach x financial impact of a data breach
For example, a low-risk data asset, such as marketing copy, may be in a high-risk location, such as a file-sharing tool. however, the financial impact on your business if information is stolen by a malicious actor is minimal. therefore, this could be classified as low or moderate risk.
Meanwhile, a high-risk data asset, such as a consumer’s medical file, in a moderate-risk location, such as a private cloud, would have a large financial impact. therefore, this would almost always be considered a high risk for your organization.
4. establish a risk tolerance and establish risk management processes
Establishing your risk tolerance means deciding whether to accept, transfer, mitigate or reject risk. An example of a control to transfer risk might be the purchase of cyber risk liability insurance. An example of a control to mitigate risk might be installing a firewall to prevent access to the location where the data resides.
Mitigation controls, such as firewalls or encryption, act as obstacles to malicious actors. however, even mitigating checks can fail.
5. continuously monitor your risk
Malicious actors never stop developing their threat methodologies. As companies get better at identifying and protecting against new strains of ransomware, malicious actors have responded by focusing more on cryptocurrencies and phishing. In other words, today’s effective controls may be tomorrow’s weaknesses.
best practices for information risk management
An effective IT risk management program should use a combination of different policies and strategies, as attacks can come in many forms and what works for one data resource may not work for another. however, there are general actions that all organizations can take to begin strengthening their cybersecurity posture. More importantly, it is imperative that enterprise security teams have ongoing monitoring to ensure cybersecurity efforts keep up with the evolving threat landscape.
Take a look at 3 best practices for managing your organization’s IT risk management program:
1. monitor your environment
Continuously monitoring your IT environment can help your organization spot weaknesses and prioritize your remediation activities.
For example, many organizations struggle with configuring cloud resources. news reports often mention “aws s3” buckets. these public cloud storage locations are not inherently risky, but failure to configure them properly leaves them open to the public, including attackers. Continuously monitoring your IT environment can help detect misconfigured databases and storage locations to better protect information.
2. monitor your supply flow
Third-party risk mitigation also acts as an important part of your IT risk management strategy. while you can control your suppliers, you may not be able to enforce the same contractual obligations against your suppliers. As part of your holistic information risk management strategy, you need visibility into the cybersecurity posture across your ecosystem.
For example, if your provider’s provider uses a cloud database and stores data as plain text, then your information is at risk. Continuously monitoring your supply stream for encryption, a way to make data unreadable even if accessed by an attacker, provides visibility into the cyber health of your ecosystem.
3. monitor compliance
As data breaches generate more new headlines, legislative bodies and industry standards organizations have published more stringent compliance requirements. Several new laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and the New York Stop Hacking and Enhance Electronic Data Security Act (NY Shield) require continuous monitoring as part of a compliance cybersecurity program.
To create a compliant IT risk management program, you must monitor and document your activities to provide assurance to internal and external auditors. As you continually monitor your company’s IT ecosystem, you need to prioritize remediation actions and document your activities, providing your auditors with proof of governance.
how securityscorecard enables risk management
securityscorecard’s security rating platform provides continuous insight into the effectiveness of your IT risk management program. our platform collects publicly available information across the internet and then correlates that information to gain insights on ten factors, including ip reputation, dns status, web application security, network security, leaked credentials, hacker conversations, security of endpoint and cadence of patches.
Using an easy-to-read A-F scoring system, the securityscorecard platform provides at-a-glance visibility into an organization’s holistic cybersecurity posture, drilling down into individual factors. These scores help organizations see their strengths and weaknesses so they can prioritize their IT risk management strategies.
securityscorecard also includes third-party risk management capabilities to help manage supply-stream information risk more effectively. The platform incorporates portfolio building so you can review vendor risk by individual vendor, cohort, or industry. These capabilities alert you to potential risks so you can communicate with vendors to better protect your information.
With the right IT risk management program, organizations can confidently analyze and manage their networks, including those of their vendors and service providers, mitigate risks and vulnerabilities, and stay ahead of threat actors.