Feb 25 2009

Small business and assessment of IT risks

Category: Security Risk AssessmentDISC @ 5:02 pm

Network and Information Security Agency
According to a study released by European Union ENISA, Small-to-Medium-Sized (SME) enterprises require extra guidance in assessment of IT security risks of their assets.

Agency also established that in the first implementation it is improbable that SME can utilize a risk assessment & risk management approach without external assistance and simplified information security approach was extremely useful for security awareness on the part of business to improve their information security management approach. One of the main drivers that have pushed ENISA towards a simplified Risk Assessment and Management approach was the idea that SMEs need simple, flexible, efficient and cost-effective security solutions.

Regarding the entire process applied for the life-cycle of the simplified approach, ENISA has applied the Plan-Do-Check-Act model:
o PLAN: creation of a simplified Risk Assessment & Risk Management approach for SMEs
o DO: run pilots in different contexts inside EU
o CHECK: get feedback from pilots and aggregate and analyze it
o ACT: review and improve the simplified approach starting from the feedback
It is expected that through repetitions of the above life-cycle a proper maturity of the simplified ENISA method will be achieved.
Diagram: Overview of the phases of the ENISA simplified approach
ENISA simplified and standardized approach for risk assessment for SMEs is designed for untrained users and organization with small IT infrastructure. Security of SMEs is crucial for European economy, since they represent 99% of all enterprises in EU and around 65 million jobs, said ENISA said.

ENISA report and findings

As economic slowdown is looming ahead in US economy, it makes sense to adopt a lifecycle approach which is simplified, standardized in managing and securing the SMEs data. SME is the core engine of US economy as well; taking a standard based approach for data protection will not only serve to increase awareness and secure businesses but will also satisfy various compliance needs. Complexity is an enemy of security and SME most of the time don’t have inside expertise to tackle organizations information security needs. The main idea is to build a simple, flexible and cost efficient risk assessment and risk management program for non-expert users and management with relatively less complex IT infrastructure which fits the needs of all SME. This program will serve as an IT risk assessment tool; fulfill the needs of several regulations and serves as a great security awareness tool as well. As business needs change, risk assessment and risk management process can be improved utilizing Deming PDCA model. Start with a base model program and improve the process to tailor your business needs down the road.

Another methodology which is worth mentioning here for simplified risk assessment approach for SME is Facilitated Risk Analysis and Assessment Process (FRAAP) created by Tom Peltier which can be utilized to identify and quantify threats to IT infrastructure. Tom also teaches a class how to complete a risk assessment in 5 days or less utilizing FRAAP and his book on “Information security risk analysis” where he explains his FRAAP methodology.

Computer Security

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Tags: Business, Computer security, Consultants, European Network and Information Security Agency, European Union, information security risk analysis, Risk management, Security, Security Risk Assessment, Small and medium enterprises, SME