An exercise program should be developed so that over time the entity gains assurance that the business continuity plan will operate if and when required.
IT Security Risk Management Demystified - HORSE - Holistic Operational Readiness Security Evaluation. Traditionally, IT projects are approved using the return on investment model (ROI) and it’s an essential financial measurement for any business venture and one that must be positive, or at least neutral, in order to demonstrate the viability of the proposition being examined. Your task is to define the boundaries of the IT security risk management exercise for your enterprise. There will be significant variance in your testing and auditing opportunities due in part to whether or not the system is already in production or at the planning stage of the software or system development life cycle (SDLC) for example. Your recommendations will help to build a strategic roadmap reflecting at least a three year plan; possibly more and an analysis if all inflight projects for possible reevaluation if they have not been appropriately evaluated.
Strategic project management plan: This report will be just high level suggestion that support your strategic road-map for risk mitigation.
Your IT security risk management program should be recertified annually to maintain its relevancy to your enterprise and to maintain a responsible level of command and control. Recent experiences with natural and man-made disasters have heightened the awareness for emergency action plans in the U.S. The university selected an online software program, Living Disaster Recovery Planning System (LDRPS), in which all plans were created. Prior to this university BCP initiative, an internal inquiry was conducted by state staff to learn of county educators' involvement in local emergency management functions. Management and Leadership—Manages implementation of the plan by providing leadership to staff as they complete their assigned tasks.
Two critical persons per county played a key role in plan development, the Plan Owner, who was the County Director, and the Plan Manager, who was a staff member designated by the County Director. During Phase 1 the project team conducted a total of 10 educational workshops for Plan Owners.
Following Phase 1, a formative program evaluation was electronically administered to each Plan Owner and Manager. The short-term outcomes were evaluated using a Web-based survey completed by Plan Owners and Plan Managers at the completion of Phase 1 training, with a 50% response rate. A second evaluation was administered to all Plan Owners and Plan Managers 2 years following the initial launch of the BCP project, with a 49% response rate.
Third, the Plan Owner (county director) did not initially involve county office personnel in the BCP development process after participation in the training; they developed their office BCP document on their own as if it were an administrative function. Vulnerability Identification: The goal of this IT security risk management task is to develop a list of system flaws or weaknesses that could be exploited by the potential threat-sources you identified in IT security risk management tasks two (2) above.
Likelihood Determination: The goal of this IT security risk management task is to take the defined core assets and the threats you have determined to exist and attempt to evaluate the potential that risk will be exploited.
Risk Determination: The goal of this IT security risk management task is to assess the level of risk to the IT system. However, 41% reported completing a BCP plan took valuable time away from their programming efforts.
Regardless, every effective IT security risk management plan should contain three essential facets; something I refer to as The Security Trifecta in one of my books, Governance Documentation and Information Technology Security Policies Demystified which is a combination of governance, technology and vigilance. My focus in this article is entirely on IT security risk management although technologists who understand that this methodology works for business risk evaluation is helpful as you build your business acumen; a valuable commodity if you aspire to sit at the same table with other corporate executives. The level of business impact is influenced by the potential business impacts we placed a value on when we calculated our ALE in the example above. At this point, we know what business assets supported by IT are important to the business, their values, and what out spending thresholds are going to be set at when we decide about IT security risk mitigating solutions.
Some risk mitigation strategies are not viable and the risk should be either just accepted formally by management or other compensating controls may be more appropriate. Plan evaluations were performed twice annually as well as upon request from the Plan Owner or Manager. Due to the turnover of county Extension directors, the workshop began with a review of Phase 1 concepts in addition to the Phase 2 recovery of business operations. Within each phase there was opportunity for template development, educational workshops, plan testing, and evaluation. Having a full-time state staff position designated to this project was also important for managing questions from Plan Owners and Managers. Explanatory material about exercising the business continuity plan, as well as a case study about a partial live exercise scenario can be found on these pages of the better practice guide.
As a career security practitioner and Chief Security Officer to several companies over the years, my significant responsibility to the organization I am responsible for is simply to reduce or eliminate threat exposures to its core business assets. For example, suppose than a business asset is valued at $500,000 and the single cost of exposure is $150,000. Natural threats such as earthquakes, flooding, tornadoes or some other natural threat that is likely in your business region.

As we have traversed the previous steps, we have collected certain metrics that we can now use to develop a holistic IT security risk management picture of our organization. Proposals using ALE calculations: Proving business value either in profits gained or in losses reduced makes the business machine run and in the security department’s case, knowledge is power and it is the only way to articulate the return on investment the CFO should expect. Yet an Extension office can be the cornerstone of scientific and educational resources when it comes to emergency response; county educators often serve as that critical communication link for families, communities, and area businesses affected by disaster (Boteler, 2007). To ensure consistency throughout all county offices, project staff developed a curriculum to describe key terminology and processes that occur during emergency planning, including the primary reasons for implementing an emergency action plan.
Following Phase 2, a summative program evaluation was electronically administered to each Plan Owner and Manager. Through this experience, county staff identified several needs that were not in practice prior to this planning effort. The outcomes of this process, beyond meeting the needs for university compliance measures, were that emergency response plans were developed and implemented in county offices.
In the initialization phase, policies and project management are of paramount importance whereas vulnerability and penetration testing are vital to production systems. Impact Analysis: The goal of this IT security risk management is to take all of your measurements and calculations such as ALE into account.
It is only once we understand what we are protecting can we then go about the business of protecting it. After 2 years of annual testing and evaluation of the 88 county BCP plans, Ohio reported 76% of their county offices completed a BCP and were in compliance with the university recommendation. For example, what if your business was located in a flood zone and the levy failed due to an engineering flaw. Your plan should contain quantified values for the cost of mitigation as well as risks ranked in order of priority based upon the recovery time objectives and level of risk criticality to your organization. This applies to the organization as a whole that was identified in the current IT security risk management exercise.
This standardization provided staff with a step-by-step recovery plan to aid the decision-making process during anticipated stressful and chaotic times associated with emergencies and disasters.
Having a quality business continuity plan increases county Extension offices' capacity to continue business operations during an emergency or recovery quickly following a localized disruption.
Once approved for advancement, the Phase 2 template was electronically attached to the eligible county plan. This article is focused on helping you understanding the core elements of a successful IT security risk management program for a commercial enterprise, the processes of calculating the cost of a risk exposure and what the appropriate costs of mitigating those risks should be.
In my example, if you were to spend more than $75,000 for risk mitigation by purchasing some security product or insurance, you are spending too much.
Policies that govern change controls, architectural reviews, project management methodologies, or software development and system lifecycles do not exist or are neglected. Business continuity planning (BCP) describes the ability of an organization, agency, or business to maintain critical functions of operation in times of uncertainty or organizational imbalance (Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, FFIEC, 2003). Training for Phase 2 was conducted for 33 counties representing 89% of the counties eligible to advance to Phase 2 planning. Depending on the nature of that business and its size, this might be a daunting task at first blush, however, I have discovered that with an organized, systematic approach, you can approach risk management effectively. Control Analysis: The goal of this IT security risk management task is to analyze the controls that have been implemented, or are planned for implementation, by the organization to minimize or eliminate the probability of a threat exploiting a system’s vulnerability.
The organizations maturity will play a big role in this step because long term business data that places tangible values on business assets such as customer accounts will produce more accurate medians than the same information provided by a new company for example.
Control Recommendation: The goal of this IT security risk management task is simply to provide recommendations to your organization for the mitigation of risks you have identified. First, the university-purchased software package was developed for business application and was difficult to translate to an organization like Extension. You identified the sources of threats already in IT security risk management task two, now apply those findings to the systems you are examining in order of priority.
The need for Business Continuity Planning was implemented in Ohio as a statewide initiative for all university departments, including county Extension offices.
Due to the turnover of county directors, the workshop began with a review of Phase 1 concepts in addition to the Phase 2 recovery of business operations. Proactive planning to address budget shortfalls: The Rutgers Cooperative Extension Experience.
These benefits include increased disaster recovery awareness and identification of issues related to county management structure.
We must first understand what the essence of IT security risk management is which can be defined as the process of identifying risk, assessing risk, and taking steps to reduce risk to an acceptable level.
Now, let’s break down the required activities that will get us to our strategic roadmap for eliminating business risk from technology threats.
Each organization is unique and the thresholds for how much risk it is willing to accept, otherwise known as their risk appetite, will have a measurable impact on the IT security risk management program implemented.

Results Documentation: The goal of this IT security risk management task is to document the findings of your risk assessment that includes threat-sources and vulnerabilities identified, IT security risks assessed, and the recommended risk mitigating controls compiled in an official report. The technology of the program was beyond what was actually needed to produce this type of planning document on the scale needed by an Extension county office. The determination of risk for a particular threat or vulnerability pair can be expressed as a function of the likelihood of a given threat-source’s attempting to exercise a given vulnerability, the magnitude of the impact should a threat-source successfully exercise the vulnerability and the adequacy of planned or existing security controls for reducing or eliminating risk. Adding emergency management responsibilities to an already busy and dynamically changing personnel team at the county Extension office can be met with resistance. If you are preparing to lead a company’s security function or improve what you have implemented already, I’m going to lay out a sustainable IT security risk management plan for you that should be part of your first one-hundred days on the job or at the very least, implemented during your tenure as soon as possible. These plans were developed through NIFA Special Needs grants and published on the Ohio page of the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) website. IT security risk management plays an essential role in protecting an organization’s intellectual property and information assets and subsequently, the business mission, from information technology related security risks.
Remember, to determine the likelihood of a future negative event, threats to an IT business system must be assessed in conjunction with the threat exploiting potential vulnerabilities balanced against the controls implemented for the particular IT system. There are certain essential business functions however that does not provide a return on your investment; one being information security, both physical and digital unless IT security is your business.
Another benefit for a county office to have a Business Continuity Plan lies in the efforts to recover business functions following a localized disruption.
However the development and implementation strategies are described so that others can understand the potential challenges and opportunities when considering statewide business continuity plans. Due to the fact that county Extension offices are included in many state emergency plans, it is imperative for field faculty and staff to be competent in maintaining certain functions and services during times of community distress.
You are certainly free to utilize any framework or methodology you are comfortable with but I would strongly suggest leveraging an international standard such as the ISO 27000 series, but particularly ISO 27005 for IT security risk management.
They are the Single Loss Expectancy (SLE), which is the percentage of the business asset you are attempting to protect with an IT security system or process that would be lost in a single exposure, and the Annualized Rate of Occurrence (ARO), which is the frequency the loss event I just defined occurs in a year. Business continuity is particularly important for agencies involved in community emergency response. Risk simply put is the negative impact to business assets by the exercise of vulnerabilities to those assets, considering both the probability of that event as the Single Loss Expectancy (SLE) and the resulting impact of the occurrence, otherwise known as the Annualized Loss Expectancy (ALE) both terms of which I will define more in depth shortly. Likewise, other OSUE educators and office staff had limited to no experience with emergency or disaster planning as it related to their function or their work environment. This in turn produces a relative value for the business assets and business resources affected which varies depending on the mission criticality, the companies risk appetite, and sensitivity of the data threatened.
Something to remember is that IT security risk management is the close cousin to enterprise risk management and the methodology is very similar. Besides its characteristics of being highly effective and simple to use, this model also provided the project management team the opportunity to evaluate the outputs according to short-, intermediate-, and long-term impacts.
Risk impact refers to the magnitude of business damage that might be caused by the successful execution of a threat. Only 25% of the Agricultural and Natural Resource educators had experience with their local Emergency Management Agency while participating under Emergency Support Function (ESF) 11, Agriculture. Phase 2 developed a recovery process consisting of a business impact analysis in which recovery time objectives determined the priority for resuming various responsibilities within the county office. This article presents Ohio's commitment to ensure emergency preparedness of its Extension county offices using business continuity plans. System Characterization: In assessing risks for an IT system, the first IT security risk management task is to define the scope of the effort.
In many cases, the Plan Manager was the County Co-Director when the county had such a position. Each workshop was 2 hours in length, with the first hour devoted to learning the management concepts related to business continuity planning and the second hour dedicated to hands-on work in the participant's county office LDRPS account. Figure 1 depicts the Ohio Business Continuity Planning Program in the format of the Logic Model. An example would be the establishing the recovery time objective (RTO) used for disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity plan (BCP) policies. Therefore, the recovery plan was based on a uniform prioritization of business functions throughout all 88 Ohio county offices. Threat Identification: The goal of this IT security risk management task is to identify the potential threat-sources and compile a threat statement listing potential threat-sources that are applicable to the IT system being evaluated.
It contained primary business functions for which each county office had responsibility in Government and Media Relations, Human Resources, Fiscal, and Customer Service Communications.

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