4 Ways a Risk Assessment Template Can Quickly Reduce Your Risk

Plus a Free Risk Assessment Template

Risk assessment is the foundation of information security, because it tells you what controls you need and how strong they need to be. But for most organizations, the risk assessment process is very challenging to perform effectively.

Why? Because accurately identifying your risks and determining whether they are being effectively mitigated normally takes considerable expertise, time and objectivity. Plus, every organization’s risk is a moving target that’s constantly impacted by new threats, regulations, clients, technology, configurations, external events and more.

Far too often, the result of a long and laborious risk assessment effort is an inaccurate and skewed view of risk, causing businesses to waste resources implementing incorrect and/or ineffective controls while their risk remains at dangerously high levels. Throw a “false sense of security” into the mix and a recipe for disaster just got put on the front burner.

What is risk?

Before we can assess risk, we need to define what risk is.

A risk is what happens when a threat acts on a vulnerability to create an impact. For example, a hacker sends your CFO a phishing email and she clicks the malicious link, giving the hacker login credentials for your corporate bank account and bang, you’re out $720,000.

The probably that a risk will manifest has two components:

  • The inherent risk before any controls (e.g., spam filtering, security awareness education) are in place to reduce/treat the risk
  • The residual risk that remains after controls are in place

What is a risk assessment?

Risk assessment is the process of identifying the inherent risks you need to be concerned about, and then determining which of those is currently being treated effectively so the residual risk is acceptable, and which are not.

You measure/analyze/rate risk by determining the probability or likelihood that a risk will actually manifest, and what the resulting impact on your organization will be.

How do you know what information security controls you really need, and how robust you really need to make them? That’s what you (hopefully!) learn from a risk assessment. 

What is a risk assessment template?

As noted above, risk assessment is a complex, time-consuming, challenging and ongoing process. Fortunately, a risk assessment template can help!

A risk assessment template is a tool that organizes and simplifies the process of identifying and analyzing information security risks, as well as sorting out what controls are needed to reduce unacceptable risks to acceptable levels.

Here are four ways that a risk assessment template can support your risk assessment process:

  1. A risk assessment template can give you an “out-of-the-box” assessment framework that you can flexibly apply across your diverse technical, business and product/service environments without “reinventing the wheel.”
  2. A risk assessment template can reduce the amount of time it takes your organization to identify all the relevant risks it faces from the hundreds of potential risks out there, and then efficiently determine which of those inherent risks is currently managed to an acceptable level of residual risk.
  3. A risk assessment template can accelerate future iterations of your risk assessment process by making it easier to isolate the changes in your risk profile driven by specific changes in your “risk universe,” like onboarding a new vendor, deploying a new SaaS offering or facing a new regulation.
  4. As the saying goes, “When all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.” A risk assessment template helps reduce this “observer bias,” which is inherent in any risk analysis process, to yield a more objective result independent of the people involved.

By effectively leveraging a risk assessment template, your organization can step off the expensive, time-consuming and “quality challenged” path it is likely on today with risk assessment.

Our Accelerated Risk Management (ARM) Risk Assessment Template

Leveraging our 20+ years of experience conducting risk assessments for thousands of companies in every industry, Pivot Point Security has developed a risk management expert system that drives a paradigm shift in risk assessment—a better end result in less time and with fewer resources.

Based on unique client inputs plus our proprietary threat and vulnerability libraries, our Accelerated Risk Management (ARM) expert system automatically calculates how every relevant threat agent might act on every vulnerability in your environment, across each of your data types (e.g., employee personal information, client data, intellectual property, etc.).

For each data type, ARM calculates the likelihood that each threat can act on each vulnerability and what the impact might be. This gives you a gap assessment, which weighs your inherent risks versus residual risks, and tells you exactly where your inherent risk is still too high and needs to be reduced.

Our free risk assessment template is “ARM Lite.” Prepopulated with a wide range of threats and other data, it helps you quickly identify your relevant threats, and gives you inherent risk and residual risk values for each threat/vulnerability combination.

Based on those values, you can efficiently perform risk analysis to decide how you want to manage each risk: reduce it through controls, avoid it by doing business differently, transfer it to an insurer or other partner, or just accept it.

All you need to do is enter your unique impact estimates and risk mitigation/control information (e.g., you have an effective endpoint patch management program already in place).

Our risk assessment template also tells you what controls are relevant to a given risk, so you can more effectively judge how high your residual risk is, and whether that’s acceptable, based on whether or not you’ve implemented an important control.

What’s next?

Interested in a better, faster and cheaper risk assessment process? To download your free risk assessment template, click here.

And check out this quick video on how to use our risk assessment template and paradigm-busting ARM tool.

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