Information leakage, Failure of electricity, Damage to a network device, Bug in software, are various kinds of threats an organization can face if they do not take precautions. These threats will become risks if the organization,
  • Have any weakness/vulnerability in these particular areas or
  • Does not aware of how to conduct an information security risk assessment.

What is an Information Security Risk Assessment?

Information Security Risk Assessment is a method, which helps an organization to identify, analyse and treat/control information security risks involved in the organization.

Importance of Information Security Risk Assessment

Information security risk assessment is an ongoing process of discovering, correcting, and preventing information security risks. Risk assessment is an integral part of an information security management system designed to,
  1. Provide a plan to follow to stop business interruption in future, like,
  • Damage to infrastructure or buildings due to natural disasters
  • Injury to visitors, staff, or customers due to hazards
  • Loss of data/information, money or equipment because of crime or theft and more
  1. Prevent business or organization from potential harm and vulnerabilities
  2. Provide appropriate security levels for its information systems and information assets
  3. Reduce legal liabilities
  4. Avoid unnecessary cost
  5. Be prepared for the unexpected
  6. Provide a safe environment
Information Security Risk Assessment helps an organization to,
  1. Gain the trust of the clients and customers by maintaining a risk-free environment
  2. Be ahead of its competitor
  3. Be free from penalties which reduce the cost
  4. Get more business
  5. Maintain a good reputation in the industry

How to Conduct Risk Assessment?

There are many different kinds of practices available in the industry to conduct an Information security Risk Assessment. One of the standard practices is mentioned below,

1. Risk Identification

In a risk register, an organization identifies the activities which have the potential to cause harm or which lead to information security risks for its area of work. Risk Register is a document where all the details of risks are captured.

1.1. Type of Risks

Broadly three kinds of risk categories are available in the industry.
a) Strategic Risks:
Risks may be identified through planning (e.g. operational plan development or review) but may arise at any time (e.g. if there is a change in the operating environment). Strategic risks are identified centrally as part of the strategic planning process. This is articulated through the Balanced Score Card approach.
b)Operational Risks
Initial risk identification will occur during project/ program planning, but risks may also be identified throughout the life of the project/ program.
c)Tactical risk
Tactical Risk is the shot at misfortune because of changes in business conditions consistently. It is related to present dangers instead of long naming conditions
After listing down the activities, the type of the risk needs to be defined according to the definition of the types of risks.

1.2. Description

The risk statement should be written in a way that it will become self-explanatory, i.e. the description of the risks need to be clear and simple.

2. Risk Analyse

In this step, an organization analyse an information security risk in the following way,

2.1. Risk Score

2.2. Risk Level

The Risk level is directly proportional to the risk score.

2.3. Risk Action

An organization will define the Risk Appetite at the beginning of the Risk Assessment.
The Risk Owners depending on the impact on the objectives under consideration may choose to accept the risks of low category.
Here consider the Risk Appetite is “3” or the “Low” category i.e. any risk above the value 3 will be treated (mitigated) and the rest will be accepted.

3. Risk Treatment

An organization utilise the existing controls (the control it already has) and the controls provided by an Information Security Standards (e.g. ISO/IEC 27001:2013, SOC 2 etc.) to mitigate or treat the identified risks.

4. Residual Risk

After putting the controls, if the risk level goes down to the acceptance level then the process will end.
Otherwise, again it starts from the Risk Analyse Step (Step 2).
I believe you get a clarity on how to conduct an information security risk assessment. If you want to have a free Risk Assessment Template, please click here and send a message.

Who Should Do Information Security Risk Assessment?

It is an organization’s responsibility to ensure that an information security risk assessment is conducted within its environment. The organization can choose someone inside the organisation with the obligation to do the risk assessment and conform to all information security requirements. This individual should be competent to perform all the responsibilities of information security, beginning with the risk assessment.
Let it understand through an example. Consider there are five departments,
  1. Information Technology
  2. Human Resources
  3. Admin & Facilities
  4. Vendor Management
  5. Legal & Compliances
in an organization, which are involved in information security activities.
In this case, the organization will choose the Risk Owner (the most competent member to perform information security-related activities) from each department to perform a risk assessment.
Risk Owners are responsible for ensuring the risks are identified, assessed, treated and monitored appropriately.