Cybersecurity risk management is critical to minimizing the impact of risks on data security and safeguarding the integrity of your IT infrastructure. Managing these risks may require risk acceptance, especially for controllable or low-impact risks. Read on to learn more about when and how cybersecurity risk acceptance works.
Cybersecurity Risk Acceptance: A Brief Overview
Understanding how risk acceptance in cyber security works will help you effectively control risks and optimize the security controls you implement across your organization.
So, in this blog, we’ll cover:
- A definition of risk acceptance and how it works
- How to implement risk acceptance
- Why you should implement risk acceptance
Implementing a robust risk management framework will help you mitigate cyber threats and data breach risks, especially in partnership with a threat and vulnerability management specialist.
What is Risk Acceptance?
As the name suggests, risk acceptance means believing that the risks posed by certain threats or vulnerabilities will not significantly impact your assets. A risk acceptance approach accounts for risk management with predefined, existing controls.
For instance, low-impact, constant risks, such as viruses and malware, can be identified and mitigated by controls like firewalls and anti-malware programs. Risk acceptance is one of four common strategies used to control cybersecurity risks.
Other strategies for managing risks include:
- Risk avoidance, where risks are completely avoided (e.g., refraining from collecting sensitive data at risk for privacy and security risks)
- Risk transfer, where risks are passed on to third parties (e.g., outsourcing security to a managed security services provider (MSSP))
- Risk reduction, where risk impact is lowered by implementing processes that the overall likelihood of data being compromised
In cybersecurity, risk acceptance may be implemented along with one or more of the three other risk management strategies.
Risk Retention vs Risk Acceptance: What’s the Difference?
Although risk acceptance and risk retention are somewhat similar, they are different when it comes to the consequences of risks. Retention of risk means that if an organization is impacted by a risk, the organization takes responsibility for the outcomes of not avoiding, transferring, or reducing that risk. Choosing to retain risks also accounts for disruptions to business operations.
How the Risk Acceptance Process Works
Before you can accept risks, you must understand what they are and how they can impact your sensitive data environments. You can conduct a risk assessment to identify the risks, evaluate risk level, and then determine whether to invest in risk mitigation or simply accept that risks can be controlled with existing processes.
What is an Acceptable Level of Risk?
An acceptable level of risk is that which will not compromise sensitive data environments and poses minimal risks to your broader information security infrastructure. For instance, installing up-to-date malware blockers or anti-phishing email software on every device connected to your organization’s network means you have reduced malware and phishing threats to an acceptable level of risk. However, it is always best to consult with a threat and vulnerability management partner on recommended acceptable levels of risk for your unique assets.
Implementing a Risk Acceptance Framework
Risk acceptance can be challenging without criteria for when, how, and why risks can be accepted. A risk acceptance framework can provide guidance on best practices for accepting cybersecurity risks. Doing so minimizes guesswork during risk acceptance and streamlines overall risk management.
Risk acceptance frameworks may vary from one organization to another.
Most organizations develop unique risk acceptance and risk management frameworks based on standardized controls recommended by bodies like the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Why Risk Acceptance is Important
Risk acceptance is crucial when it comes to allocating resources to risk management. Some risks are more impactful than others and can cause significant damage to your organization if they develop into threats. In instances where an organization is faced with budget or operational constraints, risk acceptance can be applied to lower-impact risks—freeing up resources to address more pressing, higher-impact risks.
Risk Acceptance Examples
In cybersecurity, acceptable risks may include:
- Keeping legacy systems active if they are not connected to sensitive data environments
- Allowing employees to connect their own devices to an organization’s networks if traffic from these devices is segmented from sensitive networks
Acceptance of risk will likely vary at each organization. Understanding how risk acceptance works in your industry and for your specific needs will help you effectively manage risk in the short and long term.
How RSI Can Help
Implementing risk acceptance within a robust risk management framework will help you maximize your available resources and optimize your security ROI. With the help of an experienced threat and vulnerability management services provider like RSI Security, you can mitigate cybersecurity risks before they develop into full-blown threats.
Contact RSI Security to learn more!