A risk management strategy is a tool companies can use to reduce security vulnerabilities. Such a strategy gives enterprises the procedures they need to identify, evaluate, and address cybersecurity incidents. And as the number of data breaches continues to escalate, risk management is more important than ever.

According to a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute, the average time to identify and contain a data breach is 278 days. Moreover, the average cost of a data breach has escalated to $4.24 million per incident.

By adopting a risk management strategy, you can take a strategic approach to prioritize the threats you face and the defensive measures you need to take.

Four pillars of a solid risk management strategy.

A solid risk management strategy typically consists of four pillars intended to help companies better identify and address their vulnerabilities:

  • Assessing your risk: Implementing a risk management strategy starts with evaluating your cyberattack readiness. This is the foundation for identifying current and future risks—and it involves understanding the attack surface by mapping all of your company’s digital assets.
  • Quantifying the impact: After mapping the attack surface, the next step is to predict the impact of different cyberattacks on your organization. This is done by assessing the likeliness of a particular attack and quantifying the impact on your company so you can prioritize the biggest threats.
  • Mitigating the most harmful threats: Once your organization has identified the most damaging threats, the next step is implementing the technologies and methods needed to mitigate these risks. This should include the ability to detect threats in real-time along with automated actions to block these attacks.
  • Reviewing your controls: With the right defenses in place, it’s important to continually evaluate these controls as new digital assets are added to the organization, new types of data breaches emerge, and new security regulations are introduced. By evaluating security controls on an ongoing basis, companies can quickly anticipate changes and adjust their protections to keep up with the rapidly changing threat landscape.

Who’s responsible for a risk management strategy?

Putting these pillars into place requires a unified approach that stretches across the entire organization. To be successful, a risk management strategy can’t be relegated to a single security team or business unit. Rather, everyone in the company must share ownership and responsibility. Risk needs to be considered as new internal technologies and processes are introduced. It should be addressed as companies add new customer-facing applications and services. It should be contemplated as regulations and compliance requirements evolve. And it should be the priority of every employee or third-party vendor who downloads a file or accesses sensitive data using their credentials.

At the same time, a siloed approach doesn’t give organizations the visibility or insights they need. As the threat landscape continues to expand, companies need to take a holistic and integrated approach so they can identify all threats throughout the organization, while addressing risks in a disciplined and consistent manner.

Risk management frameworks can help.

While this may sound daunting, the good news is that many risk management frameworks already exist that can help companies obtain the guidance they need. For example, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed a risk management framework that helps organizations identify their security and privacy risk exposure. The framework, which can be applied to new and legacy systems, recommends six steps that companies can take to quantify and manage their security risks.

Likewise, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has developed a framework for systematically managing risks posed by information systems. Developed in partnership with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), ISO/IEC 270001 is an international standard intended to help businesses cost-effectively manage their security risks across the organization.

NIST and ISO are just two examples of risk management frameworks available to companies as they work to improve their security posture. Using an established framework can help businesses identify gaps between their existing security controls and industry best practices. It can also help to prioritize the severity of these risks while establishing a roadmap for future investments.

Maximizing innovation while minimizing the risks.

As cybersecurity incidents continue to grow in number and severity, it’s increasingly important for organizations to develop a solid risk management strategy. With a coordinated approach to identifying and mitigating threats, enterprises can better protect themselves from the most devastating attacks—while continuing to innovate without the fear of large business disruptions.   

As you develop your risk management strategy, SailPoint can help. Find out how SailPoint Identity Security can protect user access across your cloud enterprise.   

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