How to Get the Most Out of a Security Risk Assessment

Many companies are required to perform a security risk assessment to check off a compliance box. While this mandatory analysis can seem like a chore, there are a number of reasons why these important evaluations are a requirement for most businesses.

When properly performed, a risk assessment will shine a light on potential vulnerabilities and risks that could jeopardize your company’s reputation and financial standing.

Why not take the data you receive from this required project and use it to your advantage? You’re going to need to do the analysis anyway— you might as well leave with a few beneficial takeaways.

Get the most out of your risk assessment by doing it right, with the help of these expert tips:

1. Distinguish between security versus security risk.

Many people do not see the value of performing a risk assessment because they don’t truly understand what they are. In fact, some view security and risk management as one-in-the-same, but they are not. 

Your company’s security can involve accessibility to documents, confidentiality and user restrictions. It can mean protecting your data against hackers and viruses. It’s a broad term for safeguarding nearly all parts of your business.

A risk assessment challenges the notion that your business is “secure” simply because you have fancy firewalls and multi-factor authentication. A risk assessment digs deep into all elements of your operation, looking at gaps and vulnerabilities, matching them to threats and value to identify, your security risks. 

“Security” is synonymous with protection while “risk assessment” measures the adequacy of that protection. You will get the most out of your risk assessment by relaying this difference to your team, so they understand that a risk assessment reveals the importance of weaknesses in your current security infrastructure. 

2. Prioritize your risks.

Your risk assessment will assess your security vulnerabilities, pairing every asset vulnerability with a potential threat to create a “risk scenario.” This risk scenario is then assessed for its probability of occurring. For instance, your website is your vulnerability, and the threat: a hacker. Your risk assessment may determine that you may be hacked four times per year on average, and based on the value of the website you can determine the risk.

All these scenarios and probabilities will be outlined in a “risk register” that ranks all your potential risks by priority— or the most important based on the projected damage the occurrence may cause. 

Ensure that your risk assessment includes a risk treatment plan listed by priority. If the provider gives you back a report saying every issue is of “medium” value, that won’t help you to logically decide which risks to address now, since they can’t all be performed in one shot. Look for a risk assessment that will result in a hierarchy of importance and tackle the highest risk first.

3. Ask for actionable results.

Not only do these risks need to be prioritized, but your results also need to be actionable. This means that your risk evaluation should determine what to do about each potential problem or scenario. 

Imagine going to the doctor and hearing “you have the flu,” only to be sent home without any medicine or treatment recommendations. Wouldn’t be very helpful, now would it? Your risk assessment should outline solid choices for how to “treat” your risks. 

Even if your decision is to accept a risk and move forward without any change, you are at least making an informed decision to do so.

4. Branch beyond IT.

One big myth about risk assessments is that a load of work will be thrown onto your IT team. However, your team doesn’t need to perform this assessment alone, and the right provider can make the process extremely easy.

Not only does outsourcing a risk assessment reduce the workload for your IT department, but reframing the conversation from just “an IT thing” to a business-wide necessity can make the idea more attractive to your leadership team.

It’s not uncommon for the C-suite to see risk assessments as an unnecessary expense that IT is requesting, but they don’t really need. They may think, “IT wants this done— it’s an IT expense.”

By adjusting the way it’s perceived as away from IT specific to a business-as-a-whole decision, it can change the entire mindset regarding the investment. Suddenly a risk assessment becomes a business-level function, viewed as a necessity for the company itself and not just an IT checkmark.

5. Actually implement the results.

Just because you have to perform a risk assessment for compliance, it doesn’t mean you can’t get any value out of it. Many companies just stick their results on the shelf and don’t actually do anything with the recommendations. 

Take that mandatory evaluation, but get value from it by actually doing something with your results. The assessment should outline possible action steps to address your risks and rank them by degree of importance, so you truly have no excuse for not dealing with them.

If finances are an issue, try to knock out the most important, cost-effective solutions first and allocate part of your upcoming budget for the bigger projects.

6. Use a subject matter expert.

Properly assessing all of your system’s possible vulnerabilities against an ever-evolving threat landscape requires a large degree of experience and skill. 

Chances are, your IT team just won’t have the wealth of knowledge and expertise as a trained subject matter expert (SME), who can review your entire operation with the keen eye needed to spot a multitude of risks. 

When hunting for someone to perform your risk assessment, ensure that you’re choosing a provider with the breadth of care and competence you need to get the job done right.

The Expertise Your Company Needs

Nowadays, many businesses can’t afford the cost of a large oversight—and you need a specialist who sees all the gaps and can offer clear, intelligent recommendations for action.

Here at Truvantis®, we’re a team of senior-level staff members with decades of cumulative experience weighing in on risk scenarios like yours. 

Our IT security experts are here to make it easy. Contact us for a personalized risk assessment, today.

You can also take this blog's information with you to ensure you get the best possible value from your investment. 

Click the button below to get your free copy of our whitepaper, 6 Steps to Get Real Value out of Your Security Risk Assessment

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