5 Steps To Improve Your Company’s Risk Management

Improve your cyber risk management

Cybersecurity is a complicated issue, which can’t be solved quickly. But as intruders come knocking at your network door, your need for IT risk management and an effective cybersecurity strategy is more important now than ever before.

Risk management, in general, is about identifying, assessing, and prioritizing risks combined with an economic application of resources to minimize, monitor, and control their impact on your organization. IT risk management deals more specifically with the multitude of potential threats that come through the digital sphere.

Here are five steps to help your business improve its approach to IT risk management.

1. Recognize the need for IT risk management

Recently, I heard a story about a young, personal trainer who was in top shape but suddenly died from the flu. The young man was aware he was sick but didn’t realize the danger he was in and that he needed urgent medical attention to properly manage the risks associated with the illness he was battling.

That same scenario is true for IT risk management. Recognizing the need for risk management is the first step for any company to improve its vulnerabilities to IT risk. By acknowledging that risks exist, companies can take proactive steps to assess them and develop strategies to avoid, transfer, or mitigate the impact of the risk if it ever occurs.

2. Asset identification and classification

If you don’t know what data assets are sensitive and require protection, you won’t know how to go about properly protecting them. Enumerating the amount and types of sensitive data sets that you have, and the potential cost to the organization should they be compromised or stolen, is an important step to estimating how persistent the adversary will be in their attempt to gain access to it.

Which of your data sets is critically important to your organization and must be protected? What data is necessary to keep the company going from day to day? In this step, you will need to map out all of the data sets that are vital to your organization and consider where attacks may come from.

Assets, however, include more than just your data. Assets are classified as either tangible and intangible assets:

  • Tangible assets: assets such as computer systems, data centers, and machinery.
  • Intangible assets: items such as data, processes, contracts, patents, licensing agreements, domain names and staff (consider the value of their skills to your organization).

3. Determine risk vectors

Risk vectors are the weakness or methods through which cybercriminals will infiltrate their target that puts company assets at risk. Each asset type has a different risk vector, which can be technical or non-technical means, such as social engineering/masquerading, weak credentials, unpatched systems, brute-force attacks, viruses and malware, DNS attacks, natural disasters, and inadequate physical security, to name just a few.

Determine risk vectors for your company’s critical assets by creating a chart for each asset and listing the possible means of attack by which it could be compromised. This step in the IT risk management process is an essential input to the next phase, which is to determine a risk rating for your critical assets. A common method to help guide you in this step is the STRIDE threat modelling technique.

4. Qualitative vs. Quantitative analysis

In IT risk management:

  • a qualitative analysis is determining the likelihood a vulnerability will be exploited, and
  • a quantitative analysis is the numerical risk rating value or monetary value of loss associated with a compromise.

The analysis of the risk using a quantitative measure helps to guide a company in its determination of how important it is to eliminate the risk. If the likelihood of a risk being exploited is very low and the resulting impact to the business is also very low, purchasing decisions based on the estimated cost of impact to the business are easy to make.

High impact/high probability risks should result in project funding to eliminate risk or possibly transfer risk using insurance, while low impact/low probability risks may be accepted with no further cost to the company. Performing this step in the IT risk management process demonstrates the requisite due care that the C-Suite, boards and, shareholders expect.

5. Prevent and repeat

In summary, IT risk management is an important business process that an IT professional must be able to explain and manage at a corporate level. If a risk exceeds the company’s tolerance level and must be eliminated, it is necessary to develop a process that can be incorporated into the company’s business model. At the same time, stronger IT security measures should not hinder business operations.

Measures to mitigate risk could include:

  • having backup IT sites and a business continuity plan that is periodically tested,
  • formal training and security awareness for all levels of the company,
  • a robust and audited firewall implementation,
  • network segmentation,
  • formal IT security policy and standards, and
  • regular auditing, compliance activities, and appropriate security controls.

Make sure your IT risk management process is centrally managed, is clearly defined, and can be consistently repeated. Track your successes (and failures), and always ask for feedback.

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Ken Perkins

Biography coming soon.

Megan Miller

Megan Miller’s energy and passion for learning flow into all aspects of her work. As the Growth Manager, North America, she brings a background in sciences which she has transitioned to the tech sector in her role at Difenda.

With a Bachelors of Science in Geology, Megan is a lifelong learner who is voracious about learning anything she can get her hands on about cybersecurity. Her positive energy has built a sales strategy with a focus on expanding in the United States while nurturing the Canadian presence. She is responsible for recruiting and training the sales team. Together with the company’s leadership, she creates the sales process and the company’s product strategy in order to better serve the customer base. This ensures that our customers have a highly trained and highly motivated team to help them every step of the way, Megan has completed Microsoft SC-900 training and working towards mastering Microsoft.

Whether at work or play, Megan is fully committed. She took her love of hockey all the way to the semi-professional level as a competitive hockey player. Megan loves all things sports including water skiing, scuba diving, cycling, and snowboarding. She also enjoys time with family and reading about alternative energy, innovation, and cybersecurity.

Natasha Phanor

As the Microsoft Partner Manager at Difenda, Natasha Phanor is responsible for driving growth within our Microsoft Partnership. With six years in the industry, she offers a fresh, energetic approach, and the ability to focus on our customer’s needs throughout the entire process. Natasha has the innate ability to foresee customer needs and solve problems before they arise, which creates a smooth road for each customer she encounters.

As the recipient of the Outstanding Services Partner of the Year Award in 2018, it is clear that Natasha responds quickly to customer needs, creates a platform for understanding a customer’s business requirements, and walks them through the process to ensure their complete satisfaction.

In her spare time, Natasha is as energetic and passionate as she is on the job. A self-proclaimed foodie-extraordinaire, she enjoys dinner parties, traveling, downhill skiing, hiking, biking, and reading. Natasha has a Bachelor of Fine Arts, specializing in Dance, from Ryerson University.

Lisa Templeton

Lisa Templeton is the perfect combination of human empathy and technological prowess. In her role as People Services Manager, she takes care of our team members to support them in their daily work, as well as on their personal life paths. Happy employees make for happy customers, and Lisa excels in giving our employees the tools they need for success in order to become the best possible versions of themselves. Along with employee formation, she shines in the service delivery support domain to continuously improve the process. Her 24 years of experience in IT Operations and Service Management help her create quality and efficiency at Difenda.

Having attended the Information Systems Management certificate program at Ryerson University, and with various other certifications to her credit, Lisa is perceptive and innovative when it comes to information technology, but also sensitive to the needs of her human constituents. Responsible for achieving the first privately owned company HDI Support Center certification in Canada, she has also designed and implemented Service Management excellence programs and 24×7 IT Operations departments for multiple IT organizations, and has created corporate rewards and recognition programs to keep her employees engaged and motivated.

On the personal side, Lisa passionately supports the cause of breast cancer research, having lost her mother to the disease. She reads voraciously in her spare time, and enjoys the art of home renovation. The summer months also bring time on her boat and exploring new hiking trails.

Miranda McCurdy

Miranda McCurdy uses her myriad super powers in all aspects of her job and personal life. As the Marketing Director at Difenda, Miranda McCurdy brings over a decade of experience to the table, which includes expertise in all facets of operations, brand management, and content marketing, as well as a multitude of successful strategies for the ever-expanding digital world. She is an expert at simplifying the message the company is trying to send, filling in gaps in the information, and strengthening the content in order to create compelling narratives that strengthen the brand and developing programs that bring teams together.

With several Addy Awards issued by the American Advertising Federation Cleveland to her credit, and her never say die attitude, Miranda understands both the broader picture and the minute details that are needed to successfully market a product. With her abilities to harness both the talent needed to spread the message, as well as to create the message itself, she is an integral cog in the company’s ability to communicate with customers and other stakeholders.

When she is not building a brand, she shares her ability to fill the gaps in her community by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, the Special Olympics, and the Charleston Food Bank. In her spare time, Miranda spends time with her family, enjoys fitness and health, paddle boarding, reading, and arts and crafts.

Juliana Zaremba

Connections are the name of the game for Juliana Zaremba. As Strategic Partnerships Director, she is responsible for Difenda’s channel partnerships and the development and ownership of the channel partner program. She is also responsible for the global Microsoft Partnership, including the creation of strategic plans with MSFT contacts that will facilitate the continued growth of the business and establish certification and training protocols in all security technologies. Her role is multifaceted, as she acquires partners, manages relationships with them, and develops strategies that will provide cutting edge security solutions to our customer base. Another integral aspect of her job is to facilitate growth.

With a Bachelor’s in Math from the University of Waterloo and 14 years of experience from her previous roles at Herjavec Group and CDW, her cutting edge focus and ability to develop long-lasting relationships and strategies provides world class security solutions to our customer base.

Juliana thrives on connections outside of work as well. She is a philanthropist and contributor with Women4Change based in Hamilton. This group of local women is passionate about supporting local causes, and she focuses her efforts around Women in STEM. She is also a member of Club Italia in Niagara Falls and supports their youth events throughout the year.

When not managing the Microsoft Global partnership, Juliana enjoys reading, often reading several books at once. Juliana enjoys exploring the Niagara Escarpment with her family, as well as sharing meals and experiences with her extended family. Juliana’s competitive nature has her always trying new things, like Whoop band challenges and Peloton.

Jeffry Jacob

Biography Coming Soon