Security Risk Assessments

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

― Benjamin Franklin

Security Risk Assessments Explained

Conducting a security risk assessment (SRA) is essential for all organizations. An SRA ensures that an organization’s information and data are secure. A security risk assessment involves examining an organization’s current security protocols, assessing the potential risks posed to data, and formulating strategies to mitigate those risks. By identifying weaknesses in existing security infrastructure, a security risk assessment can help implement prevention measures and necessary updates. This helps proactively protect against malicious acts while ensuring compliance with industry and governmental regulations. Ultimately, conducting a thorough security risk assessment is essential in ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of an organization’s data.

Organizations That Need Security Risk Assessments

Security risk assessments are critical to every organization. From financial institutions to healthcare providers and energy producers, businesses must have an SRA to ensure that their data and operations are secure. For instance, public-sector bodies like government departments evaluate their security risks to protect sensitive information and the safety of citizens. Especially organizations that operate entirely online need to protect their data and processes from malicious acts. By completing a security risk assessment, companies can identify the areas where they may be vulnerable to bad actors and create plans for safeguarding weak points. No matter the size or type of organization, evaluating your security risks should always be part of the plan for ensuring long-term success.

Frequency and Triggers for Security Risk Assessments

Organizations should perform security risk assessments regularly to ensure the safety and security of their clients, staff, and mission-critical operations. The frequency of evaluations depends on the nature of the organization, but typically it is a best practice to conduct an SRA every one to two years. Each assessment should look at the organization’s ability to prevent attacks, detect potential problems and respond effectively during an attack or incident. Triggers for these assessments can include technology changes, organizational changes, or new regulations. Another important factor is any perceived elevated risk to people or property from external sources such as crime, terrorism, or natural disasters. Regular security risk assessments can help an organization identify potential risks and respond quickly when a threat occurs.

Who Should Perform a Security Risk Assessment?

Security risk assessments are invaluable to the preservation of data and information, as well as prevention of breaches. A security risk assessment should be performed by a trained professional with sufficient experience in cybersecurity. They will be able to objectively evaluate existing systems while advising on necessary steps to strengthen security protocols to reduce the chance of data theft or other malicious attacks. However, understanding technology is one aspect of the job. SRA experts must also understand the laws that regulate security protections. A professional SRA consultant can recommend organizational changes to meet global standards and protect a business from potential liabilities.

Making Your Security Risk Assessment a Priority

Failing to perform a security risk assessment can have costly consequences for organizations. Without properly evaluating and managing data, businesses may fall victim to threats like cyber attacks, data loss, or theft of confidential information. Ignoring risks may also lead to legal ramifications from non-compliance with strict regulatory laws like HIPAA. Furthermore, neglecting security can cause a damaged reputation for the business, along with an erosion of customer trust, which could hurt the long-term sustainability and profitability of the organization. With these potential consequences in mind, companies must recognize the risks associated with giving regular security risk assessments the attention they require.

Administrative, Technical, and Physical Considerations

While security risk assessments are essential in ensuring the safety of data and information systems, they must look at several parameters. For instance, without considering technical, physical, and administrative parameters, an evaluation of risk would be woefully incomplete.

  • Technical parameters inherently incorporate computer security measures like encryption strength, password protocols, access control protocols, firewall settings, biometric authentication systems, and more.
  • Physical parameters involve considerations for environmental security such as alarm systems, temperature controls, the level of infrastructure resilience provided to a building or area, and power supplies.
  • Administrative parameters evaluate the policy manuals and employee instructions in use by an organization and IT team compliance with them. Likewise, administrative parameters consider the training employees have to protect data.

All three parameters are important when assessing risks that organizations may face. Omitting a single element could lead to lax security measures and potentially disastrous consequences.

The Role of NIST Special Publication (SP) 800-30 in Your SRA

Security risk assessments are essential for any organization that wants to get ahead of cyber threats. To ensure an SRA is effective and efficient, analysts should strictly adhere to the standards outlined in NIST Special Publication (SP) 800-30. This publication contains essential guidance regarding risk management practices and helps organizations methodically recognize, assess, and mitigate potential security events that could pose a threat to their infrastructure. SP 800-30 also explains essential provisions on how organizations should develop and implement policy control measures; prepare for a proactive security posture; respond effectively in the event of disaster recovery; and protect their networks from unauthorized access. Adherence to these standards can save time and money by allowing organizations to fill in gaps where necessary before an attack or breach happens. Businesses committed to fortifying their defenses against cyber threats follow the guidelines outlined in NIST SP 800-30.

SRA Report and Work Plan

A security risk assessment should culminate in a detailed report outlining the potential threats to an organization and a work plan to mitigate the identified risks. The SRA report should detail pertinent findings from the assessment, such as individuals and systems affected, identified vulnerabilities, and suggested methods for improvement. A high-quality SRA report is easy to understand and makes clear recommendations for how an organization can improve its security posture in the short and long term. It’s also essential to provide a timeline with realistic milestones, including estimated days or weeks needed to assess options and implement solutions and improvements. Ultimately, the goal is not only high-level visibility of vulnerabilities but also the steps to remediate deficiencies, so everyone involved understands their role in protecting the organization.

The Advantage of Hiring Athreon for Your SRA

Hiring an Athreon SRA consultant to conduct your security risk assessment is a smart first step when working to improve your security posture. Athreon’s SRA specialists are experts in risk management issues, and they possess comprehensive knowledge of the best practices surrounding organizational security. For businesses that lack the necessary expertise or resources internally, leveraging Athreon’s know-how to assess your organization’s processes from an unbiased standpoint is invaluable. We can provide objective insight into potential areas of improvement and recommend more effective safety protocols and procedures specific to the nature of your business. This empowers your business to bolster its defenses and better prepare for potential risks. Athreon helps you ensure that your systems are up-to-date, properly configured, and that your staff understands their role in limiting risk.

Contact us for a free consultation at 800.935.0973.