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November 2011

Overcoming obstacles in the security risk assessment process

Information security risk assessments are a fundamental building block of any security program, much like security awareness training, policies, procedures, and technical safeguards. A risk assessment program is required by several regulations such as HIPAA, SOX, and FISMA. Risk assessment is also an essential element of all security standard bodies of generally accepted security practices such as ISO, COBIT, and NIST.   Ideally, an effective risk assessment program should ensure necessary security controls are in place or put in place based on the information risks or threats that an organization faces. The risk assessment process should identify and prioritize any gaps found. In other words, an effective risk assessment program should drive an organization’s security initiatives and its program. However, security risks assessments are subjective exercises. Risk assessments can be inadvertently and advertently skewed based on interpretations and result in not implementing necessary security controls. Reluctance to spend money, ...

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