Scaling Risk Assessments for Applications

August 30, 2019

Risk assessments are integral to the modern organization’s success, but they’re also time-consuming and difficult to manage. First, all possible risks facing systems, projects, or processes in your organization must be identified. Then, select people in your organization are responsible for prioritizing all such risks, taking together the potential impact of the risk and its chances of turning into a real danger or attack on your systems. Without such an assessment, your organization’s security program priorities are based on guesswork and, hence, subject to chance. This is why all regulatory frameworks, including HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and ISO 27001, stipulate the need to accurately identify and prioritize all risks. Organizations, however, face several challenges when it comes to executing on risk assessments. Here, we will outline these common challenges and offer a solution for each one. 

 

Common challenges with manual risk assessments

Risk assessments require the contributions of multiple stakeholders. In-scope assets identified can span the entire organization, including software, hardware, network devices, shadow projects, stored data, and more. In order to run such an assessment, it’s important the people involved have a strong grasp of inherent risk, residual risk, and specific threats. 

 

Scalability 

With even short risk assessments taking 6-8 weeks long, it can be very difficult to scale risk assessments. These assessments rely heavily on manual processes which are greatly time-consuming, and often other business priorities will take over, making it difficult to follow an exact risk assessment schedule. 

 

Consistency 

Ideally, the same risk assessment should be generated from one person to the next. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case, and an organization’s true security profile can be hard to pin down. Often, projects are tracked through spreadsheets, meaning answers are recorded that are quite varied and subject to interpretation. Another potential layer of inconsistency is introduced when selecting controls. 

 

Completeness 

When pressed for time, organizations will often take short-cuts by limiting the amount of information they put down. This, however, often results in missing critical input. Also, some teams may not have the time to fully complete surveys, which leaves assessors with incomplete information on which to base the assessment.  


 

Auditing and Reporting 

Unfortunately, spreadsheets cannot be adequately audited because they alone cannot prove compliance to an auditor or corporate board. 

 

The solution: automate the risk assessment 

Automating risk assessment can be done by using a technology platform which translates security policy into actionable tasks for technical teams. Such a platform can be used to capture data related to security requirements while accelerating key portions of the risk assessment process for software assets. Using a standardized survey and a centralized knowledge library can offer greater consistency in the process of identifying risks and appropriate security controls. This frees up analysts’ time for assessing risks that are unique to their systems. They also now have time to expand their risk assessment programs, allowing for scalability. With controls that are easily identified and traced back to a policy, it makes reporting and compliance audits much simpler. 

Automating the bulk of manual tasks involved in a risk assessment reduces demands on technical and security teams while allowing greater scalability.  

To read the full Scaling Software Risk Assessments white paper, visit here: https://resources.securitycompass.com/whitepapers/scaling-software-risk-assessments

To learn more about how we can help you automate your risk assessment process, visit here: https://www.securitycompass.com/free-demo/

 

 
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