How To Assess Information Security Risks

First Steps for Identifying Information Security Risks

Find the specific risks to your company's data resources with information security management. Here are the first-step basics for calculating those risks to your assets. For the first steps in managing the security of your data and information, professionals should answer four main questions:

  1. What is the threat? Private information about your clients (credit card numbers, financial information, and medical data) can be stolen through an insecure network, with cracked passwords, through flawed cryptography or through irresponsible employees. Pages on your web site can be hacked, inappropriate content could be displayed, and business could be interrupted through web attacks, blocking the normal operations of the company. All of these things can stop production, lessen income, and damage the company's reputation.

    Identifying risk is the primary task for protecting confidential information. Normally, due to the technical background of most professionals, there is a bias for focusing on technical problems. In fact, there are often a myriad of possible ways to attack a computer system.

  2. What is the impact? Companies are liable for keeping private information secure. Negligence in keeping this information secure can result in costly claims. Allowing unauthorized access to intellectual property because of careless security can make for a serious competitive disadvantage.
    The company's reputation can be critically impaired. Customers can quickly lose confidence and income would likely drop the entire time of an attack on the company data resources, and probably, for some time after the attack has been controlled.
  3. What is the possible frequency of the risk? The frequency of various threats is much higher than you would believe. The absence of bad news in the newspapers is no indication of the real threats, big and small, being controlled after the fact.

    Many times the victim isn't aware the company is being hacked. Of course, if a customer's credit card has been charged without authorization, the holder can demand a refund. However, that does not solve the ultimate problem of where the flaw in your security exists.
    Sometimes the direct victim is the company itself with intellectual property illegally copied and used without consent. The lawful owner may not even be aware that these resources can be copied or even, have been copied.

  4. How certain are the answers to the first three questions? You can be sure that risks to your electronic data exists, but there is no simple way of calculating exactly how often it happens or when and where the attack will take place.

Consider the safety of your company's virtual data, and have the flaws assessed by an information security management professional. If you take a "wait and see" approach, you risk an attack on your company's documentation, private information databases, and perhaps, intellectual property.


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