Most companies and organizations understand the need for point-in-time risk assessments, but not all know the importance of a long-term risk management strategy. While many compliance and audit requirements focus on a risk assessment being performed, usually it is in the context of a more comprehensive risk management program that includes understanding your organization’s risk tolerance, the various threats that actually impact your organization, determining through the assessment process how well your security program addresses those threats, and processes to analyze and reduce risk to acceptable levels.  Making sure that your assessments include both non-technical and technical testing (e.g. penetration testing, vulnerability scans, etc.) and responding to identified issues is critical for organizations—especially ones that harbor sensitive data—to implement a long-term risk management plan.

With an ever-changing threat landscape, being able to depend solely on in-house resources to manage risks is rarely a logical or safe option.  Here are five reasons to implement a long-term risk management strategy.

  1. Less Internal Disconnect—Because cybersecurity can be a complex topic, there can be a disconnect between the boardroom and the IT function, among other departments. At the end of the day, it’s important for the boardroom, security team, and key organizational leaders to work together at protecting a company’s bottom line.  The board and executive management should set the bar in terms of the organization’s risk tolerance and appetite, providing an overall risk culture that permeates the organization.
  2. Accountable Compliance—Every external (e.g. client, patient, business partner, etc.) stakeholder requires and deserves assurance that the private and sensitive data they entrust to you is safe and secure. Even more, with such heavy regulatory and public scrutiny of your security and privacy practices, a long-term risk management strategy with an experienced IT compliance and audit specialist can smoothly guide organizations through the overwhelming maze of regulations.   It is important to establish who owns each risk in an organization to ensure an appropriate level of accountability drives action.
  3. Reduced Risk of Successful Attack—Even the most well-intentioned employees can make mistakes. However, when it comes to risk management and data security, errors—whether purposeful or not—can lead to costly security breaches. Additionally, because of all the responsibilities on the plates of in-house IT employees, they can easily miss potential security threats or specifications. Partnering with a third-party organization on a long-term risk management plan can greatly reduce the risk of a successful attack and provide direction for the clearest and simplest approach to remedying any IT security issues.
  4. Proactive Response—The high demand for qualified cybersecurity professionals can create a difficult challenge for organizations to maintain effective risk management. Partnering with a knowledgeable third party can move your organization from playing defense to offense when it comes to cyber-attacks and long-term risk management. Rather than having to be reactive with potential threats and attacks, an organization should be positioned with a proactive response.
  5. Reputation Protection—Let’s face it: Reputations matter. Take it from company executives who experienced some of the largest (and most expensive) data breaches of the past year, the epidemic of hacking isn’t showing any signs of stopping. Having the proper long-term risk management processes in place can help companies avoid costly damages—both to the bottom line and the company’s reputation.

A risk management strategy that includes appropriate response processes will not only position organizations to be adequately prepared in the event of a cyber-attack, it will also unite company leaders from the boardroom to finance to operations and IT with an intentional and strategic plan for protecting sensitive client data and the company’s reputation. With some of the most-recognized and top-ranking IT security professionals in the U.S., LBMC Information Security is ready to provide a true and objective assessment of your security environment, specifically through the BALLAST risk assessment tool, so contact us today to learn more.

Mark Fulford

Mark Fulford

Mark Fulford, CISSP, CISA, ABCP, CRISC, is a Shareholder in the risk services division of LBMC, PC. With nearly 25 years of experience in information security audit and compliance, Mark understands how to translate technical jargon into actionable intelligence. With significant experience in healthcare, his expertise includes assisting companies with Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA & PCI, HITRUST compliance, as well as providing assurance to clients and their stakeholders through SOC 1 and 2 reporting engagements. More recently, his focus has been on helping organizations identify and manage information security risks through both guided and automated risk assessment techniques.