The more you comprehend information security compliance, the more you’ll appreciate the diversity of risks in any organization. In the process of meeting all the compliance requirements, you’ll hear terms such as risk assessment, analysis, and management. Also, you will realize that there are ways you can rank the risks (high, low, and moderate).
However, when you differentiate between risk assessment and analysis, you’ll identify the difference between security control and data breach.
Risk Assessment versus Risk Analysis
Definition of Risk Assessment
Assessing your risks involves exploring the internal and external threats and the consequences they have on your organization’s data security, integrity, and availability. You should identify all the events that can affect your firm’s data environment. Example of the data risks you should explore include:
- Data corruption: Any ransomware or malware attack will make your data unusable
- Data loss: If data storage device collapses, you won’t access your information!
- Data breach: This happens when an unauthorized user accesses information compromising confidentiality and integrity
- Deanonymization: Occurs when encryption fails making your data to easily be matched to personally identifiable information (PIP).
What is a Risk Analysis?
Risk analysis is the next step you take after the assessment. Once you’ve identified the risks, you need to determine the probability of their occurrence and the consequences. You should perform qualitative and quantitative analysis to determine the magnitude of the threats consequences and how to mitigate them. Examples of risk analysis include:
- Probability. This is the likelihood of a risk occurring. High risk means that an event has previously occurred and there is a chance of it occurring again. When the risk is low, it means that such an event may not have happened in the last five years but there is a significant chance of occurring. For example, a malware attack is a high risk while employee distorting information is a low risk.
- Impact. This depicts the magnitude of the consequences of a risk materializing. When an event has a high risk on the survival of your business, then its likelihood occurrence may not matter. For example, the cost of data breaches may be significantly high, as such, you shouldn’t compromise on it!
How to Use a Risk Assessment to Develop a Risk Analysis Plan
You should always ensure that you profile all the risks, their impacts, and risk mitigation measures. You should start by risk assessment where you will creatively identify the potential risk events. To achieve this, you need to evaluate the fines of violating covered entities such as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Protected Health Information (PHI), business associates, and other third vendors. These parties may interact with your data, software, and networks which can be a risk.
Also, if you’re using technology applications to collect data, you should assess their security controls to determine whether you can tolerate the risks and comply with HIPAA security needs.
How to use Risk Analysis to Prioritize Risks
Ranking risks are crucial in developing a plan on whether your organization should decline, accept, or transfer the risks. This is high to prioritize the risks:
These risks can be used by attackers to exploit the vulnerability of your systems. You should continuously update your security tools to mitigate the risks. Make sure that you make these risks a top priority.
These risks may involve employees that distort information after employment termination. This occurrence is rare. However, you need to regularly update your user-access reviews to protect your organization from such malicious individuals. You, however, do not need to invest too many resources in it due to its low chances of occurrences.
This may include events such as breakages and stealing of devices. The chances of a stranger accessing your organization are minimal. You should concentrate on high risks and invest little on the low priority risks since they pose an insignificant threat to your data.
Automation of Risk Prioritization to Streamline Risk Mitigation
While it’s crucial that you concentrate your efforts on high-priority risks, you shouldn’t ignore the low priority risks. If you fail to seal all the loopholes, you may end up losing crucial data which will eventually be very costly.
Your organization should apply a security-first approach to protect the data first and ensure continuous monitoring. This approach will help you to regularly assess the risks and prioritize them. Since this process can be cumbersome, you should automate the entire process! The automation will save the hassle of scheduling of assessments and analysis and the sorting overwhelming emails
To enhance efficiency and accuracy, these technology applications are designed to detect changes in security systems and deter unauthorized individuals from accessing your private information. What’s best about it is the continuity. The risk assessment and analysis should never be a one-time event but rather a continuous process!
Ken Lynch is an enterprise software startup veteran, who has always been fascinated about what drives workers to work and how to make work more engaging. Ken founded Reciprocity to pursue just that. He has propelled Reciprocity’s success with this mission-based goal of engaging employees with the governance, risk, and compliance goals of their company in order to create more socially minded corporate citizens. Ken earned his BS in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT. Learn more at ReciprocityLabs.com.