What is a security risk assessment?

A security risk assessment identifies, assesses, and implements key security controls in applications. It also focuses on preventing application security defects and vulnerabilities.

Carrying out a risk assessment allows an organization to view the application portfolio holistically—from an attacker’s perspective. It supports managers in making informed resource allocation, tooling, and security control implementation decisions. Thus, conducting an assessment is an integral part of an organization’s risk management process.

How does a security risk assessment work?

Factors such as size, growth rate, resources, and asset portfolio affect the depth of risk assessment models. Organizations can carry out generalized assessments when experiencing budget or time constraints. However, generalized assessments don’t necessarily provide the detailed mappings between assets, associated threats, identified risks, impact, and mitigating controls.

If generalized assessment results don’t provide enough of a correlation between these areas, a more in-depth assessment is necessary.

The 4 steps of a successful security risk assessment model

Identification. Determine all critical assets of the technology infrastructure. Next, diagnose sensitive data that is created, stored, or transmitted by these assets. Create a risk profile for each.
Assessment. Administer an approach to assess the identified security risks for critical assets. After careful evaluation and assessment, determine how to effectively and efficiently allocate time and resources towards risk mitigation. The assessment approach or methodology must analyze the correlation between assets, threats, vulnerabilities, and mitigating controls.
Mitigation. Define a mitigation approach and enforce security controls for each risk.
Prevention. Implement tools and processes to minimize threats and vulnerabilities from occurring in your firm’s resources.