The Data-Driven Risk Management Playbook | Start Here

April 9, 2022

In cybersecurity, risk management is the practice of prioritizing defense and response tactics based on an incident’s potential impact. Considering data in this process helps you better protect against potential risk factors. By utilizing a data-driven risk management strategy, you can start detecting hidden patterns that are unique to your business and security model.

Using big data in combination with AI and machine learning offers a more rounded approach to risk management, allowing you to come up with appropriate responses and solutions before catastrophic events even occur. Furthermore, bringing in data from various parts of your organization loops managers, employees, and shareholders into the process of keeping digital assets secure and private.

The Benefits of Data-Driven Risk Management

Accurate, up-to-date, and well-rounded data is one of your most powerful weapons against malicious attacks, but only if you make the most of it. Switching from a cookie-cutter approach to risk management to a data-driven one can have tangible benefits for your organization in both the short and long term.

Lower Cyber Insurance Rates

As the name suggests, cybersecurity insurance helps to limit and mitigate losses that may occur due to cyber incidents. Similar to other insurance policies, your premium rates largely depend on whether you can prove your business is as secure as possible.

The best way to prove compliance with the highest security measures is by providing frequent status reports and analytics of your internal network.

Increased Efficiency

It’s sometimes too easy to fall into a routine of inefficient practices. It’s important to consider alternatives to the way things have always been done that might increase efficiency.

By regularly referencing your data, you’ll be better able to adjust the workflow to account for changes in the internal workings of your organization. Not to mention, data can help you unveil hidden flaws that could otherwise spell disaster for your security system.

Well-Placed Accountability

Data can help you pinpoint exactly what went wrong before and during a security incident. A well-maintained database can reveal signs of malicious behavior and suspicious activity within your network. It can also help you identify the potential causes of an incident and hold the responsible party accountable — whether it’s a faulty system or an irresponsible employee.

Limited Repeating Incidents

Not dealt with properly, a gap or flaw in your security can be repeatedly exploited. Network data analysis and interpretation of risk management can help in cyber forensic investigations by sniffing out the root cause of an attack, breach, or leak. It can also let you know the best way to repair it.

Better Security Forecasting and Prediction

Data is an infinite source of information. It has the ability to reveal countless insights and discoveries every time you look at it from a different angle. Over time, and with more data, you’ll be able to generate reliable predictions concerning your security system.

How to Implement Data in Your Risk Management Strategy

Without data, risk management strategies consist of four main steps:

  1. Identifying high-risk areas
  2. Assessing the risks
  3. Safeguarding high-risk areas
  4. Regularly reviewing safety measures

Switching to a data-driven risk management model doesn’t necessarily mean starting from scratch. It’s often a way to optimize these steps.

Collect the Right Data

By thinking of data as information in its raw form, it might seem like collecting as much data as possible from your network is the key to success. However, it can be easy to fall into data privacy violations. Determining which data is essential to your security — the minimum required data — should be your first step.

Nowadays, complex cyber attacks can originate from anywhere within your organization. Publicly available access points could be in danger of brute force attacks, while internal data exchange points could be at risk of leaks and insider threats. Identifying these points of vulnerability can help guide your data collection process to ensure both your organization’s security and the security of the data.

Don’t Get Distracted

Any fairly active organization produces a never-ending stream of data. When identifying the minimum required data for risk management, it’s important to not get distracted by relatively unimportant datasets. This is where your implementation strategy overlaps with traditional risk management.

You should focus primarily on data coming from areas you’ve already identified as high-risk. The remainder can be allocated to optimizing workflow efficiency and productivity, not necessarily risk management and cybersecurity.

Live-Monitor High-Risk Areas

While analyzing previously harvested data can reveal hidden gaps in your security, real-time monitoring is used to detect incidents and attacks. Large corporations may be able to monitor almost all access points and data exchange hot spots, but such a feat is nearly impossible for small- and medium-sized businesses.

Real-time monitoring is an enhanced step for protecting high-risk areas. Once data analytics have revealed the normal traffic patterns in your high-risk areas, real-time monitoring can detect any anomalies that indicate a leak or attempted breach.

Regularly Produce Status and Incident Reports

Traditional risk management strategies stop at regular assessments of security measures in high-risk areas. Data-driven risk management strategies, on the other hand, take things a step further. They provide status reports of every incident — successful or not — and how your team and internal security system reacted.

This allows for ample room to grow and improve your security systems in the direction that best suits your organization. Instead of only securing areas that are known to be high-risk in your industry, going over previous reports allows you to find and implement security solutions that cater to your company’s unique situations.

Make Security a Part of Company Culture

Your security department isn’t separate from all other departments in your organization. In a way, every employee is responsible for the safety and security of the company’s digital assets.

It’s important to encourage open communication regarding the company’s security landscape and help individual employees develop their security skills in a supportive and judgment-free environment. Managers should also be included, as their roles higher up in the network put them at a higher risk of targeted phishing attacks.

Get the Help You Need

Jumping headfirst into a complex data risk management strategy can be counterproductive. Due to the many moving parts and potential outcomes of data-driven risk management, it’s best to receive the help of experts.

At Zendata, we assist companies in proactively monitoring and managing their web-facing assets for data risk and privacy compliance issues. We help you stay on top of privacy issues in your web apps and internet-facing assets. Get in touch to receive the professional help your organization needs.