5 Tips For Effective Risk Management


Risk management is now an integral part of everyone’s life who is part of Information Security. It is an important component of all of the key standards used today, including PCI-DSS and ISO27001, which were both updated recently.  It needs to be done but in order to do it well, it takes effort and time.  So let’s take a careful look at what the requirements are for risk assessment when it comes to information security.  The following are 5 tips to help make it effective for your organization:


  1. Make sure it is meaningful


It is possible to conduct a risk assessment by simply paying lip service to its requirements and be done just because it must be. However, when it is approached in that way, you will end up with inaccurate results that you don’t really care about.  It should be treated seriously as a way to improve your business.  So how can you make it meaningful?  You need your senior management team to buy-in and know they will need to act on what the findings are and get issues resolved.


  1. Before you start, fully define the process


That might seem really obvious, but risk assessments are frequently done in a way that is very unstructured which makes it hard to achieve good results.  Keep in mind that risk assessment needs to be repeatable at all time.  Spend time in advance, and define all of the key components of your risk assessment ahead of time, including the following:


  • How will we conduct our risk assessment?
  • How will risk be measured?
  • What criteria will we use to accept risk?


  1. Group your assets together


This is one of the key components to getting your risk assessment completed.  Usually, all laptops are very similar to one another.  All of them hold sensitive data, may be stolen, lost, etc.  For risk management purposes, reduce how many assessments you have as much as you can and where sensible group similar assets together.  That isn’t practical in some cases, and in our example above you might have two or more different kinds of laptops, depending on what they are being used for and who they are being used by. Check out this years biggest risks in this blog from Barclay Simpson.


  1. Make sure there are real owners of the assets


What this means is that the individual who the asset is allocated to must have the resources, budget, ability, and power to resolve any issues that risk assessment finds.  There isn’t any point to having findings if no one can resolve them.  It can be difficult to assign certain assets and people might not want to take ownership of them, but the key here is to control risk.  Your risk assessment will not be able to address the issues if the assets do not have owners.


  1. Your risk assessment will evolve over time


When you conduct a risk assessment for the first time, it won’t match everything in your business perfectly.  You will under-value some assets and over-value others.  The impacts might not be 100% accurate.  It needs to have time to be changed and tweaked until it is right.  That doesn’t mean manipulating it so that you get the answer you were expecting.  There will be some risks that you weren’t expecting, and some will be more serious than you thought.


In summary, when conducting your risk assessment, be as honest, accurate, realistic and methodical as possible. You will end up with the best possible answer to that ongoing question: what are my biggest risks?


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