The constant evolution of cyber threats means businesses need to consider adopting information security risk management. As new technologies are emerging, so too are complex cybersecurity attacks that can compromise your business and cause huge headaches, both reputationally and financially. Data breaches, property theft, ransomware and vishing attacks are just a few of the extremely damaging attacks many businesses of all sizes are facing.
The elaborate nature of how cybercriminals operate calls for swift action. What your business needs is a robust solution that tackles all areas of information security effectively. ISO 27001 can help you manage information security risk, and in this blog post, we’ll explain exactly how to implement the framework and help your business stay ahead of the competition!
Why information security risk management is needed?
It’s important to understand what is meant by the term ‘information security risk management’. Consider your industry and the type of business you manage. The information security risks associated with cybersecurity in construction are likely to differ from those of a healthcare firm or educational institution. But, the underlying principles of managing risk for IT remain the same.
A responsible business owner should identify, assess and treat risks relating to information security. This involves the confidentiality, integrity and availability of your assets, and adopting risk management strategies based on the risk tolerance of your business. This doesn’t mean you should eliminate every single risk entirely, as this isn’t cost-effective or necessary. Rather, you should use information security risk management to make informed decisions on the best course of action that your business can withstand.
Managing risk as cyber threats evolve
The transformation of technology means businesses across the globe are fighting to keep pace with the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity. The PwC’s 2024 Global Digital Trusts Insights Survey highlighted the need for large businesses with huge revenues to improve their risk management measures. The results of the survey are quite startling:
- Cloud attacks are considered the top cyber concern, however, one-third of organisations have no risk management plan to address these challenges.
- Only half of the businesses surveyed are satisfied with their cybersecurity technologies.
- Over 30% of companies don’t consistently follow standard cyber defence practices.
As you can see, the revelations are eye-opening. But how does this relate to smaller businesses much lower down the chain? Well, we’ve highlighted these findings to make it clear that cybersecurity can be defining for businesses, no matter the size or sector of the business. If larger organisations aren’t being attentive enough, it doesn’t mean you should ignore your approach because cybersecurity doesn’t matter. Organisations are investing in technology and advanced systems to combat the threat of cyber attacks but often they’re not doing enough.
And that’s where cyber attackers can find the small opportunity they need to strike. They adapt intricate methods to compromise businesses like yours, using emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. SMEs face the same risks as larger businesses, so your information security risk management strategy needs to be proactive to withstand the increasingly pertinent risks of cyber threats.
How ISO 27001 helps with information risk management
Standards like ISO 27001 provide a solid foundational basis for managing risk properly. Although ISO 27001 and GDPR are two different legal frameworks, they’re both equally important in helping establish security measures for both information and cybersecurity. We’ll focus on ISO 27001, but you can discover the difference between ISO 27001 and GDPR in our blog post.
In relation to risk management, ISO 27001 offers businesses a framework for information security management practices. It allows businesses to develop risk management actions that align with business objectives. Whereas GDPR focuses on data protection and has a legal status, ISO 27001 incorporates information security as a whole. The ISO 27001 framework can help establish the following points to tackle risk management effectively.
- Managing risk effectively
- Access control across your organisation
- Network and web-based security
- Recovering and backing up data
- Physical security measures for your business premises
- How your employees are trained
- Monitoring and reviewing your ISO 27001 policies, processes and procedures
Identifying risk management in information security
We touched upon the importance of being able to spot and handle risks rather than eliminating them completely. Managing information security risks involves looking closely at these four aspects of your business:
Assets can take many forms, such as data, systems, goods and services. It’s your job to determine the significant assets in line with the business you operate. For example, your business may be an educational institution. What would happen if exam predictions or results data went missing during a cyber attack? This would severely damage the integrity of the results being reported.
Software vulnerabilities can compromise the confidentiality and integrity of assets. A vulnerability assessment can help recognise the weaknesses in your assets that malicious actors can exploit. Your organisation’s processes need to be tightened to ensure there are no security gaps that could have severe consequences for your business.
Depending on the type of business and industry, assets and information may be compromised by a range of threats. Organised cyber criminals can target businesses in certain sectors if they have identified an opportunity in a particular sector. By assessing the threats and managing the risks associated with such threats, you can map the necessary actions to take before it’s too late.
Risk management for information security requires an effective set of controls once you have identified your assets. Each control should directly address an identified vulnerability to provide a suitable solution that fixes or reduces the impact. ISO 27001 controls are divided into 93 controls with four themes. Think about the threat to cloud services that many businesses have outlined. Clause 5.23 is a new control added to be included in the new ISO 27001:2022 Standard. It offers protection if your business has a cloud-based infrastructure that you use to store data and electronic information.
It’s important to remember to monitor any control you implement. The control you use is likely to be inserted into an ongoing system which may change and cause faults with your control over time.
Defining your information security risk management strategy
We’ve revealed the methodology, but it’s down to you to implement the formula that works best for your business. Need a helping hand? Here are a few tips to help you along the way. The following strategies can help manage risk effectively once you have gathered the relevant information you need.
- Remediation – Do you have a location or server where assets that are critical to your business function are stored? A remediation control can help fix a vulnerability in your critical assets that provides a fix.
- Mitigate threats – On occasions, a complete fix might not be possible. Reduce risk with an alternative solution to divert communication with your server to prevent vulnerabilities from being exposed.
- Accepting risk – As we’ve explained earlier in the piece, risk tolerance for your business should be measured against the risks identified. If a vulnerability carries low risk, is it worth devoting precious time and resources to finding a cure?
- Risk avoidance – Are your servers approaching their end of life cycle? It’s time to think about upgrading, and transferring sensitive data before they are decommissioned. You can enable a setup that allows servers to run and process non-sensitive data, while a plan is developed to migrate non-sensitive data to other servers.
Risk assessments form a vital part of information risk management. Discover how to develop your ISO 27001 risk assessment.
Manage information security effectively with our help
It’s important to remember that information security risk management is an ongoing process. It should evolve and be adapted to meet the constant demands that cyber threats carry. Remember to assess, plan and communicate your risk management strategies across your business to maximise impact and insulate your organisation at a time when cyber attackers operate in increasingly elaborate ways.
Defining the ISO 27001 framework and taking the appropriate steps may be a challenge, but we’re here to help simplify things for you. We’ll help with your ISO 27001 implementation, so you can apply all the necessary controls to contain threats to your information security effectively.
Our ISO 27001 certification process is simple and easy to implement and you can be certified within 45 days. Discover the cost of ISO 27001 and start your journey towards certification today. Managing risk is what we’ve helped many businesses do, and we’re here to help ensure your business grows without being compromised. Get in touch at 0333 344 3646 or email [email protected]. For further information on information security, check our guide to ISO 27001 for an in-depth look at the Standard.