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5 Steps To Strengthen Information Risk Profiles

Make sure you include the right employees and business processes when developing risk management strategy.
3. You Need The Right People In The Room.

Establishing a risk profile that the business embraces requires involving the right people. Pironti recommended involving business process owners or "data owners." Ultimately, senior leadership will need to buy in as well. If you're unsure of whom the business process owners are in your organization, identify the people with profit-and-loss (P&L) responsibility. In other words: Whose bottom line gets hit if there's an information-related incident?

4. The Goal Is Not To Include Everything.

For businesses with finite resources -- and that's most of them -- trying to account for every shred of data that passes through the organization is not only inadvisable, it's a fast track to failure. Don't forget that the whole point of building an information risk profile is to prioritize based on your company's data and its relative importance for revenue, compliance and other factors.

"Look for the key business processes, the ones that are considered essentially important to the operations or health and safety of the organization," Pironti said. "It wouldn't be realistic to say that we should look at every detail and every thing."

Pironti applies the concept of "due care" here, which asks: Did you do what could be reasonably expected of you to protect your data? "That's your bare minimum starting point, and then you work upwards," Pironti said. "If there were a situation, we can [then] feel comfortable that we are protecting ourselves from legal concerns, from compliance concerns, from the court of public opinion -- as well as ensuring that our business can operate in a way that makes sense for us, versus what everybody else tells us we should do."

5. Avoid Too Many Cooks.

No one wants to be told their data or business process is a lower priority than that of the person sitting two doors down. Few people in a "get ahead" culture will ever willingly admit that their areas of responsibility aren't as important from a risk management standpoint. As a result, there's bit of diplomacy required of information security pros when developing a risk profile.

Pironti offered this tip: If there's already a business continuity or disaster recovery plan in place, start there -- a good one should have, in effect, already "ranked" the company's data priorities, which can help smooth out any ruffled feathers.

"A lot of organizations have already gone through that process, versus doing a real risk profile," Pironti said. "It's an easy starting point."

InformationWeek is conducting a survey on security and risk management. Take the InformationWeek 2013 Strategic Security Survey today. Survey ends March 29.

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