Jun 29 2016

5 Must Read Books to Jumpstart Your Career in Risk Management

Category: Risk Assessment,Security Risk AssessmentDISC @ 11:30 am

FAIR Institute blog by Isaiah McGowan

Read Books to Jumpstart Your Career in Risk Management

What are the must have resources for people new to operational and cyber risk? This list outlines what books I would recommend to new analyst or manager.

They’re not ranked by which book is best. Instead, I list them in the recommended reading order. Let’s take a look at the list.

hubbard_failure_of_risk_management_cover.jpg#1 – The Failure of Risk Management: Why It’s Broken and How to Fix It (Douglas Hubbard)

In The Failure of Risk Management, Hubbard highlights flaws in the common approaches to risk management. His solutions are as simple as they are elegant. (Spoiler alert: the answer is quantitative risk analysis). The Failure of Risk Management shows up as #1 because it sets the tone for the others in the list. First, understand the problems. With the common problems in mind you can identify them on a regular basis. The next book provides approaches to modeling the problem.

fair-book-cover.jpg#2 – Measuring and Managing Information Risk: A FAIR Approach (Jack Jones & Jack Freund)
In Measuring and Managing Information Risk, the authors communicate a high volume of foundational knowledge. The authors outline the FAIR-based approach to measuring and managing risk. They tackle critical concepts often overlooked or taken for granted by risk practitioners.

With that foundation in place, they move on to the FAIR approach to risk analysis. Finally, they lay out foundational concepts for risk management.

This book is not an advanced perspective on analyzing or managing risk. Instead, it provides a systemic solution to our problems.

Books #1 and #2 lay the foundation to understand the common risk management and analysis problems. They also provide approaches for solving those problems. The next two books are critical to improving the execution of these approaches.

Superforecasting_cover.jpg#3 – Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction (Phillip Tetlock & Dan Gardner)

We require Superforecasting. Risk analysis is always about forecasting future loss (frequency and magnitude). As practitioners, it is critical to learn the problems with forecasting. Knowing is half the battle. Superforecasting takes the audience through the battlefield by offering a process for improvement.

If there is one book you could read out of order, it is Superforecasting. Yet, it shows up at #3 because it will hammer home forecasting as a skill once the other books open your eyes.

Tetlock_expert_judgement_cover.jpg#4 – Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? (Phillip Tetlock)

Yes, another book by Tetlock appears in our list. Published first, tackled second. His work in understanding forecasting is tremendously valuable. Superforecasting builds on the research that resulted in publishing Expert Political Judgment.

Tetlock seeks to improve the reader’s ability to identify and understand errors of judgment. If we improve this skill, we will improve our ability to evaluate expert inputs in risk management.

Thinking_fast_and_slow_cover.jpg#5 – Thinking, Fast and Slow (Daniel Kahneman)

Rounding out the list is Thinking, Fast and Slow. Improving your understanding of thinking in general is the next best step. Take the time to read this book. Peel out nuggets of wisdom before tackling more advanced risk management and analysis concepts.

There it is…

This is my go-to list of 5. I recite it to anyone who has made or will make the leap into risk management and analysis. These books will set the foundation for thinking about risk. They will also push you down a path towards improving your skills beyond your peers.
What books would you have in your top 5? How does your mileage vary?


Tags: information security risk program, risk assessment program, risk management process, Security Risk Assessment

Aug 08 2008

PCI DSS significance and contractual agreement

Category: pci dss,Security ComplianceDISC @ 11:52 pm

The PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry & Data Security Standard) was established by credit card companies to create a unified security standard for handling credit card information.  The retail service industry now understands the strategic significance of PCI DSS compliance, which was demonstrated when TJX announced that their system was compromised for more than 17 months, where well over 50 million customers’ credit and debit cards were breached. Retail business which fails to comply will be subject to penalties and fines, possibly lawsuits, and may lose their credit card processing capability. Non-compliance will not only expose businesses to fines and penalties but also make it vulnerable to many threats, which can exploit the vulnerabilities in the system and put your business to unnecessary risk. These risks could have been avoided with some due diligence. When business is non-compliant, any major breach will have a significant impact on business viability.

To start a process of PCI compliance, a merchant should determine if PCI DSS applies to their organization.  PCI DSS is applicable if your customer PAN (Primary Account Numbers) is stored, processed or transmitted in your organization. After determining the applicability of the standard, the merchant needs to determine where their business falls in the categorization of businesses by their bank in terms of merchant level.

Before commencing the risk assessment the assessor will perform the system profile to determine the applicability of the scope and set the boundaries of the system covered under PCI-DSS assessment. Planning is the key to success of a project; this is the phase where all the planning and project preparation will take place.   Now the key to the success of your on-going compliance is to simplify the scope of the project. The best way to achieve this to put all the PCI related assets in a precise segment to limit the merchant card holder environment.

Comprehensive risk assessment will be performed on the identified scope where risk analysis will identify the gaps based on PCI DSS standards and risk rating will prioritize the gaps for risk management.  Thorough risk analysis will generate a quality technical and process gap analysis, where you decide the mitigation/compensating controls to comply with PCI DSS.  After completion of the risk assessment the task of the risk management begins, to eliminate the gaps in your environment and to comply with the standard. Depending on the numbers of gaps the risk management team should set realistic goals to complete the tasks in hand.  Best practices recommendations suggest that the organization should eliminate/mitigate the high risks (high impact & probability) gaps to the organization, but sometime organizations decide to go after the low hanging fruits to start with their risk management process.

When the risk management process gets close to finishing and you are well on your way to comply with PCI DSS, you might think that perhaps your job is done. Well in a way, it’s just a beginning of a process where your organization is supposed to maintain the compliance with PCI DSS.  Based on expert opinion, PCI DSS is a process not a project. What you have done so far, is baseline your environment. Ongoing compliance is achieved by monitoring the relevant PCI DSS controls. Ongoing compliance will depend on the quality of the merchant’s information security management system (ISMS). A strong  ISMS would include thorough monitoring, logging and reviewing controls to maintain and improve system security over time.  You can develop an automated PCI monitoring process to achieve consistent results and sustain compliance by continuously monitoring your system. ISMS (based on ISO 27001) certainly can be a great value to manage ongoing monitoring, maintenance and improvement cycle.

In a sense, PCI is neither a regulation nor a standard but a contractual agreement between the merchant and their acquirer bank, when merchants start transmitting PAN data that makes them contractually obligated to comply with PCI DSS. To understand their obligations, the merchant should make a proactive effort to understand their acquirer’s particular interpretation of PCI DSS requirements to get compliant.  Ongoing compliance will require adequate resources and automated controls in place to routinely monitor, maintain, review and improve the required systems. Ultimately, ongoing PCI compliance will enhance business efficiency and reduce the potential impact of adverse publicity on your business image.


Documentation Compliance Toolkit

PCI Compliance

Practical guide to implementation (Soft Cover)

Practical guide to implementation (Download)

PCI Compliance

Tags: business efficiency, business image, compensating controls, comprehensive, contractual agreement, gap analysis, isms, iso 27001, merchant card holder, mitigate, pan, pci compliance, pci dss, risk analysis, Risk Assessment, risk management process, tjx