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Develop and Conduct Threat and Risk Assessments

If you don’t assess risk, you’re accepting it.

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Contributors

  • Robert Banniza, Senior Director – IT Center Security, AMSURG
  • Robert Hawk, Information Security Expert, xMatters, inc
  • Joey LaCour, CISO, Colonial Savings, F.A.
  • Sky Sharma, Cyber Security Advocate, skysharma.net
  • 1 additional anonymous contributor


Your Challenge

  • IT departments are tasked with implementing new projects or initiatives, but are often unsure how to assess the risk with these.
  • Often, stakeholders will have an informal discussion regarding any risks and make a final decision based on that.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • Informal, ad hoc discussions do not allow for informed risk assessments, which can affect how the organization as a whole manages risk.
  • Even for companies looking to adopt formal risk management, there are numerous frameworks and assessment techniques that offer best-practice advice but no clear methodology on how to complete a threat and risk assessment.
  • When evaluating risk, standardize your risk assumptions. There will be a need to establish clear definitions for frequency and impact of potential threats, and this will be useful across future risk assessments and across your risk environment.

Impact and Result

  • Use Info-Tech’s risk assessment methodology to quantifiably evaluate the threat severity for any new or existing project.
  • Determine the scope of the assessment and build frequency and impact definitions in order to have a repeatable process.
  • Make informed risk treatment decisions based on the results – whether to accept, transfer, mitigate, or terminate the risk.
  • Connect your threat and risk assessment results to your wider risk management program. Doing this can inform the organization as to the macro level of risk that it faces.

Research & Tools

Start here – read the Executive Brief

Read our concise Executive Brief to find out why you should develop and conduct threat and risk assessments, review Info-Tech’s methodology, and understand the four ways we can support you in completing this project.

1. Define the scope

Identify which assets and data types are within scope of your assessment, and determine your risk tolerance level.

2. Conduct the risk assessment

Define frequency and impact rankings, and then assess the risk of your project.

3. Communicate and manage results

Determine what risk decisions need to be made.

Guided Implementations

This guided implementation is a nine call advisory process.

Guided Implementation #1 - Define the scope

Call #1 - Determine when to initiate a risk assessment.
Call #2 - Define the scope of the assessment.
Call #3 - Identify the organizational risk tolerance.

Guided Implementation #2 - Conduct the risk assessment

Call #1 - Define frequency and impact.
Call #2 - Identify STRIDE threats.
Call #3 - Assign countermeasures and review final results.

Guided Implementation #3 - Communicate and manage results

Call #1 - Discuss potential risk action options.
Call #2 - Perform “what if” analysis with mitigations.
Call #3 - Connect to the risk management program.

Onsite Workshop

Discuss This Workshop

Book Your Workshop

Onsite workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn't enough, we offer low-cost onsite delivery of our project workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a roadmap in place to complete your project successfully.

Module 1: Establish the Risk Environment

The Purpose

  • Build the foundation needed for a security risk management program.
  • Define roles and responsibilities of the risk executive.
  • Define an information security risk tolerance level.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
  • Defined risk tolerance level.

Activities

Outputs

1.1

Define the security executive function RACI chart.

  • Defined roles and responsibilities for the risk executive
1.2

Assess your organizational risk culture.

1.3

Perform a cursory assessment of management risk culture.

1.4

Standardize impact terminology.

  • Standardized impact terminology to be used throughout the risk model
1.5

Define frequency or impact thresholds outside of individual risk tolerance level.

  • Defined frequency and impact thresholds to be used throughout the risk model
1.6

Evaluate risk scenarios to determine risk tolerance level.

1.7

Optimize the sensitivity of your screening test.

1.8

Decide on a custom weighting.

1.9

Finalize the risk tolerance level.

  • Defined risk tolerance level

Module 2: Conduct Threat and Risk Assessments

The Purpose

  • Determine when and how to conduct threat and risk assessments (TRAs).
  • Complete one or two TRAs, as time permits during the workshop.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Developed process for how to conduct threat and risk assessments.
  • Deep risk analysis for one or two IT projects/initiatives, as time permits.

Activities

Outputs

2.1

Determine when to initiate a risk assessment and which project/initiative will be assessed.

  • Established criteria for when to conduct risk assessments
2.2

Review appropriate data classification scheme.

2.3

Identify system elements and perform data discovery.

  • Defined scope of the threat and risk assessment
2.4

Map data types to the elements.

2.5

Identify STRIDE threats and assign rankings.

  • Identified threats to the particular project and defined current severity level
2.6

Determine risk actions taking place and assign countermeasures.

  • Defined actions to review and/or reduce risk
2.7

Calculate mitigated risk severity based on actions.

  • Defined mitigated risk severity level
2.8

Review results and form risk-based decisions.

  • Final decisions made based upon the final risk assessment results

Module 3: Build a Security Risk Register

The Purpose

  • Collect, analyze, and aggregate all individual risks into the security risk register.
  • Plan for the future of risk management.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Established risk register to provide overview of the organizational aggregate risk profile.
  • Ability to communicate risk to other stakeholders as needed.

Activities

Outputs

3.1

Begin building a risk register.

  • Established risk register document.
3.2

Identify risks and threats that exist in the organization.

  • Identification of risks beyond that of the TRAs alone.
3.3

Identify which stakeholders sign off on each risk.

3.4

Review the aggregate risk level of the entire organization.

  • Understanding of the aggregate level of risk.
3.5

Act upon risk results, depending on the aggregate level as it relates to the risk tolerance.

3.6

If necessary, revisit risk tolerance.

3.7

Plan for the future of risk management.

Search Code: 80367
Published: April 14, 2016
Last Revised: March 21, 2018