Guide to Starting a Basic Risk Assessment

A risk assessment is one of the first steps in implementing your information security program because it will help provide an overview of your entire organization. A risk assessment includes what assets you have, what the risks are to your company and what the possible consequences may be should a breach occur. Most importantly, the assessment gets your organization on the path to reducing risk.

Like any strong plan, you’ll need a strong team to make it work. Create a risk assessment team that is made up of people in your company who are familiar with computer security, technology and the day-to-day operations of the organization. There should be a member of senior management who has the authority to make decisions about the company’s risk posture. It is essential to include those who understand technology and the business operations as well. This exercise will allow you to understand better all aspects of your assets and the risks that could harm them.

Document Everything

It can be easy to lose track of all of your assets and potential risks, for this reason, it is essential to document your findings. For this, a spreadsheet can be used. It will allow you to track all the information you need in a central location. If you or someone on your team is skilled with using spreadsheets, you can use formulas to help expedite the process of calculating risk and impacts. 

A risk assessment document should include three separate sheets: a logging sheet, asset register, and the risk assessment itself.

  • The logging sheet will help document your basic information and you can track here updates or changes to the document and record the dates of your risk assessment.
  • The asset register is used to track all your assets in one location.
  • The risk assessment sheet, is where you will evaluate each asset and all risks associated to it.

The Steps to Creating a Risk Assessment

Step 1: Establish the scope of risk assessment:
Before beginning a risk assessment review and outline all parameters and assets that will be part of the assessment.

Step 2: Performing the risk assessment
Work through the assessment and gather the required information with your team.

Step 3: Risk evaluation:
Once all assets and threats have been outlined. Conduct an evaluation of the risk of the threat on the asset.

Step 4: Risk treatment:
Management in the organization will select one of the treatment options for each risk that is identified.

Step 5: Risk monitoring and review:
Company’s are not static and are continually changing and evolving over time. Due to this the assets, risks, threats, and strategies outlined in your initial assessment may or may not be the same in a year.

Interested in learning more? Check out our video
“Guide to Starting a Basic Risk Assessment