Performing a risk analysis, either at the logical or physical level in and around the information technology (IT) enterprise, is a complex and often confusing endeavor.
The results of a risk assessment will never exceed the quality of the data used as input to the process.
To understand how a risk assessment tool can assist in the process of identifying and quantifying risk, it is important to first understand what a risk analysis is.
Quantitative—Today's risk management requires a direct correlation to the value of the assets that require protection. The importance of the quantitative portion of the risk assessment is in knowing that the potential for loss is US $100,000 versus US $1 million. The risk assessment tools market is relatively small and is comprised of approximately a dozen companies, of which seven (see table 1) appear to garner the majority of the market share. All of the tools perform the same basic functions; however, they perform these functions differently. The next major function of these products is to perform calculations to determine risk probability and ultimately rank risks by their level of importance.
Each product adheres to one or more of the industry accepted risk standards, BS7799, ISO, DOD, HIPAA, etc., for identifying risks and suggesting safeguards. Additionally, many of these products have been written by software programmers, as opposed to risk experts, and their quality of recommendations in safeguards, threats and vulnerabilities sometimes reflects a sophomoric approach to sophisticated risk management. Reporting is an area that separates these products in their approach to providing a customized method for presenting a risk profile. Although most of these products are quite difficult to use without two to three days of training from the vendor or distributor, they can offer a substantial savings in time and resources when performing an enterprise-level risk analysis.
Organizations with a serious commitment to an infosec program should have one of these products incorporated within their risk management methodology to facilitate a uniform approach to identifying, reducing and managing risk. Save time with the pre-formatted template; fill-in the blanks and you’re ready to start your risk assessment! The objective of this assessment is to ensure that the overall risk to the organization and its operations is managed appropriately on an ongoing basis.
If you want to easily and quickly perform a high quality threat and risk assessment , this template is your solution! Download this 4 step assessment tool to determine whether you have the capabilities to execute.

Arriving at an accurate risk profile is equally difficult, but needed to identify one's risk and subsequently manage or mitigate the threats and vulnerabilities that create the risk. The concept is based on the precept that no asset faces 100 percent risk, 100 percent of the time. Risk analysis tools need to be able to measure the potential for loss that a threat could have on an organization.
It is best to evaluate which product most closely aligns to each organization's risk management philosophy. There is an art (and science) to performing risk assessments, which may explain why so few organizations conduct them well, or at all. This article looks at these tools, creates a framework of understanding and provides insight into the world of automated risk analysis. To find this information, an advanced risk analysis technique, known as a quantitative approach, is used to provide statistical insight to risk prediction and impact. The more sophisticated products also allow one to import or link to data from penetration tests, intelligence reports or other risk-gathering formats.
One must be careful to recognize that not all of these will provide sufficient information to make an informed decision on selecting an appropriate risk mitigation strategy. Programmers understand the concept of garbage in, garbage out (GIGO) and this universal truth applies to risk management equally, if not more.
More complex enterprises or those with limited budgets require a more advanced form of risk analysis. These tools range in cost from as little as a few hundred US dollars to more than US $25,000.
This is a boutique industry where the companies generally are headed by an acknowledged expert in the field of risk management and have been in business for 10 years or more. The ability for a risk assessment tool to calculate loss estimates, such as ALE, and financial metrics, such as cost of risk mitigation and ROI, is an indication of its comprehensiveness. In fact, many of these products sell versions or templates to address specific risk areas, such as HIPAA, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, etc.
Step by careful step, word by word, paragraph by paragraph, and page by page, our template empowers you to effectively document and understand your business risks.
Listed in order of priority and aligned to the risk tolerance and objectives listed previously.

And one also must understand that the end product of the risk analysis will be commensurate with the quality of the input and accuracy of the answers to the questionnaires.
Not all of the products noted provide ROI modules as this is a relatively recent development in the science of risk management. However, calculating risk is no different from programming an application to perform a prescribed function.
However, the process of identifying, quantifying and associating risk to assets falls just short of rocket science for most people. There are, however, software products that provide a methodology and structure to the entire risk analysis process.
There are, of course, varying degrees of risk analysis, with each providing differing views of an organization's risk posture. Adding the quantitative component to a qualitative risk assessment ensures that the safeguards deployed are commensurate with the value of assets or processes at risk. The total number of risk assessment tools in active use today is less than 12,000 worldwide. The 2003 worldwide revenue for risk management software tools that specifically address the IT community is projected at US $35 million.
In some cases, there are more than 500 individual questions that must be answered to produce a risk profile. However, one must remember that these products have their limitations and cannot replace sound risk management judgment or experience. Questionnaires also can be allocated across numerous external locations with the results rolled into a composite risk profile. Also, using incorrect threat and vulnerability assumptions to determine one's risk profile and posture can be costly in terms of money and lives. Qualitatively and quantitatively, all the necessary data are available to produce a credible risk assessment statement.

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