Risk Management Plans for Small Business

For most companies, any information stored digitally has to be adequately protected. But with malicious cyber actors discovering new zero-day exploits or unknown vulnerabilities, your IT systems can be breached, with all the sensitive information going into the wrong hands. This is where risk management comes into play.


The Process of Risk Management Planning

Risk management is just the process of identifying the risk at hand and analyzing it to come up with effective risk mitigating measures. Fundamentally, this process requires that you come up with a lot of lists.

The process begins with taking a holistic outlook of where you share, store or transmit information, and then establish potential risks when it comes to the confidentiality, accessibility, and integrity of your data.

Once you have identified all areas where a data breach could be executed, you need to proceed and create another list – this time one that outlines the importance of that information, incorporating a detailed review of the chances the data could be compromised.

This second list will help you make the third one, which goes into details whether you intend to accept, refuse, transfer, or mitigate the risk. You’ll need to support your decision in a document, clearly stating the steps you want to follow.


Analyzing the Possible Outcome of a Risk Event

There are some categories of risk events when it comes to information security. By evaluating information about possible risk events and any supporting statistics on data breach costs; you can effectively predict risks and their impact.


Vendor Data Breach

According to a study conducted by Ponemon Institute in 2017, 56% of data breaches reported came from third-party vendors. It further stated that the average payout resulting from the data breach, which includes customer loss, remediation, and fines, amounts to a whopping $7,350,000. This can be very devastating to the affected parties.


Malicious Attacks

A 2018 Data Breach Insights report published by Verizon revealed that 73% of cyber-related attacks came from a nation-state or its affiliated actors or organized criminal groups. According to the findings, out of the 53,308 security occurrences considered, 2,216 were on data breaches. Another 21,409 incidents were out of hacking.


Insider Matters

The same Verizon report shed some light on the impact of insider caused risk events. It revealed that system administrators and end-users were responsible for an astonishing number of activities linked to an internal data breach. The two accounted for a whopping 134 out of 277 security occurrences. That’s almost half the number of incidences. Likewise, social engineering was found to be a culprit too, accounting for 381 data disclosures and 1,450 security incidences.


Importance of a Risk Assessment Matrix

Conducting a qualitative risk review will help you come up with a probable estimate, allowing you to understand the likelihood of a security event occurring as well as the impact it could have. But remember, the effect could cripple your businesses’ financial stability, even when the event isn’t very likely.

However, if you come up with a risk assessment matrix, it’s possible to review security risks across a range of categories, allowing you to attend on impactful and essential risks first before you can move through other potential risk events and address them accordingly.


Employing Project Management Approach in Cyber Security management

Approaching a cyber-security risk isn’t any different from managing a project. The first thing you should do is detail the risks at hand and create tasks that will help you develop your data operations and test them before you can finally proceed to operation.

A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) offers you a great example of how to go about cybersecurity risk management by using the same approach of project management.

To meet the goals at hand, a project manager usually brings together both external and internal stakeholders so that each one understands their work and responsibility. Likewise, a CISO (chief information officer) needs to bring department and c-suite managers responsible for cybersecurity monitoring and vendor management together to achieve a common goal.


Creating Cybersecurity Risk Mitigation Measures by Using Project Management

Think of your chief information officer as a project manager and your IT department as team members. It doesn’t matter if you want to scale your business by striving to be compliant with new regulations or standards or introducing a new Software-as-a-Service vendor; the risk mitigation measures don’t change.

Whereas in project management you look at an assortment of phases including manufacturing, testing, engineering, and acquisition; in cybersecurity you review all the risks, monitor threats continuously, establish controls, and work on security events.

Just as you come up with contingency steps to counter potential problems and prepare necessary documentation in project management, you’ll need to make procedures and policies in cybersecurity and come up with disaster recovery measures should a security event arise.

In project management, responsive hardware and software development needs a continuous reviewing of the product. Likewise, cybersecurity risk management requires you to keep monitoring your data threats to ensure your measures remain effective.

How Project Management Approach to Cybersecurity Risk Management can be helped

To achieve a common goal, project managers have to be in continuous communication with their team members. Similarly, your CISO needs an effective way to communicate with external and internal stakeholders. While traditional methods such as emails and shared calendars where tasks are assigned still work, they are time-consuming and not as effective. Cybersecurity risk management calls for an efficient tool that will enable task management and coordinated communication across all internal parties.

Author Bio

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.


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