Information security risk is all around us. The threat of being breached has not only increased, but it has also transformed. It has become necessary that organizations take measures to prevent breach incidents, and mitigate the damage when they do occur. The first place to start is with a risk assessment. Organizations that get risk assessments better understand where their strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to ensuring their sensitive data is safe. As if this wasn’t reason enough to get a risk assessment, there are many other reasons these assessments are important for all businesses.
As mentioned before, security risk assessments help your organizations or clients to understand their strengths and weaknesses as it pertains to security. This baseline creates a starting point for ramping up for success. Once you understand where your organization needs to focus its attention, you can quickly set an actionable plan to help improve your security measures, and ultimately improve your security posture within your industry.
Good information security risk assessments will give scoring metrics for the different areas of security. Not only does this provide your organization a numeric baseline to help you make improvements, but it also provides the ability for everyone in the organization to speak the same language about security. Security can be complex and difficult to understand. By putting a numeric score to how much security risk your business carries, management and employees and third-party organizations you do business with can all be on the same page about where improvements are necessary. An information security risk score can be a powerful tool when communicating with peers.
A risk score means virtually nothing if you don’t know what to do with it. An added benefit of having an information security risk assessment is that they are often backed by an incredible amount of industry knowledge. These assessments do not just leave you out to dry. The industry knowledge behind the risk assessments feeds into recommendations. Based on the score you or your clients receive, and the areas of the assessment in which you received them, assessments will provide the necessary recommendations to make immediate improvements to your score, and your overall security posture. An action plan is valuable for creating a sense of purpose and accomplishment, and this is something you can better create by having a risk assessment.
Admittedly, pressure can be a driving factor for a security risk assessment. Pressure can come from all different angles. Many business types need to adhere to compliance or regulations. Good security risk assessments are built on the same framework as these industry regulations and compliances. Because of this, you can ensure you’re hitting the proper marks of security compliance.
Insurance companies also pressure their clients to be secure. Organizations who don’t properly protect sensitive data can suffer customer loss, a negative reputation and significant financial burden. It’s certainly possible that if an organization was breached, it may be penalized so starkly that it may never recover. For these reasons, insurance companies are continuing to stress the importance of security risk to their clients. Risk assessments help insurance companies understand the risks that their clients hold, and can have a major impact on the cost of business.
Third parties are also making a push for organizations to get security risk assessments. As a business, there are often companies in my vendor matrix that interact with my data in ways that I would never have imagined. It’s been reported that 63% of security incidents were due directly or indirectly to a third-party vendor in the last year, and on average, organizations spent $10M on breaches involving third parties. Organizations are quickly looking to combat this. By pressuring your entire vendor matrix to get a security risk assessment, you can get a better understanding of exactly how your third parties interact with your sensitive data, and how good they are at protecting it.
Your customers also want their data protected. When you take credit cards, house customer information, etc., your customers or clients are trusting that you’re keeping their data safe. As mentioned before, a breach can have a drastic impact on your reputation. Customers who frequent organizations who have been breached may not be willing to do so moving forward as a level of trust has been broken. This can obviously impact your organization indefinitely. A security risk assessment would tell your organization how likely it is that your customers’ data is compromised so that you can make improvements and avoid or mitigate damages.
There are many reasons information security risk assessments are important for all businesses. There is pressure from customers that organizations keep their data safe, insurance companies and third parties want their clients to be secure, and there are regulations that many organizations must follow. On top of that, security assessments provide a metric and plan to help your organization and its clients understand and improve information security postures. Information security risk is all around us. You can help your organization get ahead of breaches by getting a security assessment to understand just how large the risk is, and how you can shrink it.