Over the past few weeks, we’ve discussed what it means to consider risk as part of an overall compliance strategy. We’ve emphasized throughout that risk doesn’t have to be an abstract pursuit–it can be a comprehensive part of compliance and security that uses the realities of regulations and frameworks to drive decision-making (and vice-versa).
One of the approaches to risk and compliance that many organizations are seeing pop up in regulations is the concept of “maturity.” Maturity can mean a lot of different things, depending on the context.
What Is Risk Maturity?
Risk management is a complex discipline that calls for a careful and systematic approach. Some organizations will approach risk management through an ad hoc approach, but quickly move on to more strategic and comprehensive policies.
One of the best ways to measure risk management capabilities is through the metric of “risk maturity.” An organization is more mature in their risk management and governance capabilities when those practices are embedded into its overall operations. This includes integrating risk assessment and security into everyday business processes.
A simple way to think about risk maturity is to consider the different aspects of your business. Generally, we think of risk management maturity as a combination of several factors:
- Compliance: How compliance is your organization? This approach is a bit prescriptive but easily measurable–either you meet the requirements or don’t. More importantly, this helps you have a solid foundation for your actual regulatory obligations and their frameworks.
- Total Risk: How much risk are you taking on, based on your current security practices and configurations. This will necessarily include some understanding of the risk you have taken on and your risk threshold and appetite.
Across compliance and risk, you’ll have to consider where that risk actually plays a role in your organization. This, in turn, calls for you to take a more hands-on approach to understand critical parts of your data or IT infrastructure.
Namely, you’ll want to have a clear grasp on several factors, including:
- Data: The lifeblood of any business, one that (unfortunately) many organizations don’t pay enough attention to. Risk management requires understanding where your data goes, who has access to it and how it is processed. At each place where this data might be touched, security risks are present–ones that you’ll have to include in your assessments.
- Security Threats: What are the actual threats to your data? Modern cybersecurity threats evolve every day, but mitigation efforts and best practices also evolve. The positioning of your IT infrastructure and data will shape the actual threats you might face and will, in turn, shape how you deploy security controls.
- Control Relationships: This is perhaps the trickiest part of managing risk–how do different controls interact with each other to raise or lower your risk profile. Each company will have a different approach to these relationships and how they might layer different services and technologies to control risk.
- Configurations and Updates: Controls and technologies need regular patches and updates, but these updates aren’t always compatible with business goals. Selecting and automating control patches and updates is critical for risk management.
What Is a Risk Maturity Model?
The word “maturity” implies growth of some sort, which is no different in risk management. Many companies look to risk maturity models to help them better understand just where they are in developing their management processes.
While there are several models in the cybersecurity world, many rely on a relatively stable set of stages that denote how “mature” your organization is.
The common stages of a risk maturity model include:
- Ad Hoc: Your organization doesn’t have risk management or assessment capabilities other than those implemented as needed for specific technologies. This means that the deployment of management controls is relatively haphazard, without any plans or strategies. In many cases, risk practices are deployed by individuals rather than as part of a company directive.
- Preliminary: Risk may be implemented in a more concerted manner, but separated by departments or other delineations. Usually implemented locally by workers or management in that department, and often siloed from other departments.
- Defined: The organization has a framework in place that applies comprehensively to the entire infrastructure. There are plans in place to respond to high-level threats and mitigate them.
- Integrated: The framework is active across the organization, coordinated between departments or lines of business (LOBs), but done so in a limited, prescriptive way.
- Optimized: Comprehensive, forward-looking risk management encompasses security threats, existing and future technologies, scaling business demands and other strategic concerns.
Organizations moving towards optimized risk maturity are developing dynamic and flexible systems that can meet present challenges and prepare the foundation for future growth and scalability.
Continuum GRC: Take Control of Your Risk Maturity
One of the most critical aspects of moving through the risk maturity model is gaining knowledge of how your organization is positioned regarding that risk. Ad hoc and preliminary risk management processes will only get you so far–your company cannot grow securely and effectively without fully understanding your security and risk as it evolves in real-time.
The Continuum GRC platform measures risk maturity through a series of calculations that include a real, target understanding of your compliance requirements, the gaps in your systems based on potential threats, and your company’s evolving capabilities. This approach includes comprehensive visualization of implemented controls and how they affect your risk profile and specific metrics, and KPIs tied into your business’s unique infrastructure.
Continuum GRC is cloud-based, always available and plugged into our team of experts. We provide risk management and compliance support for every major regulation and compliance framework on the market, including:
- NIST 800-53
- DFARS NIST 800-171
- SOC 1, SOC 2, SOC 3
- PCI DSS
- IRS 1075
- COSO SOX
- ISO 27000 Series
And more. We are also the only FedRAMP and StateRAMP authorized compliance and risk management solution in the world.