Published on
December 22, 2022

Security Risk Assessment: Everything You Need to Know

min read

A security risk assessment helps to determine, assess, and implement crucial security controls in applications. It is designed to help organizations evaluate risk and maintain compliance with regulatory requirements.

By assessing security applications, organizations view the application from an attacker’s perspective. This, in turn, helps them secure the application as much as possible.

But does your organization need a security risk assessment? In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about security risk assessment

  • What is security risk assessment?
  • Why are security risk assessments important?
  • Security risk assessment process.
  • Systems included in a security risk assessment.
  • Risk assessment vs. risk management
  • Benefits of risk assessment, and more.
  • Let’s start with what is security threat assessment.

    What is Security Risk Assessment?

    An SRO or Security Risk Assessment is an assessment that involves identifying, assessing and implementing key security controls in an application. SRA is typically needed by various compliance standards, such as PCI-DSS standards for payment card security.

    An SRA spots all the crucial assets, vulnerabilities, and controls in an organization to ensure all the risks have been mitigated in the right way.

    So does your organization need an SRA? Let’s explore!

    Why are Security Risk Assessments Important?

    A Security Risk Assessment is important in protecting your application from security threats. With a security risk assessment, you get a blueprint of all the risks in your organization, providing crucial information about all those issues.

    Here are some of the reasons why security vulnerability assessments or risk assessments are so important

    Determine Security Gaps

    23% of small businesses

    Most small to medium-sized organizations need to be more knowledgeable about cybersecurity and its importance. The worst part is they don’t even know their applications' security issues and how dangerous they could be.

    Security risk assessments allow organizations to identify security gaps at every level. This, in turn, helps them to start working on filling the gaps before it’s too late.

    Improve Productivity

    With security threat assessment, you can improve the overall productivity of IT operations, security and audit. By taking steps to formalize a review, building a structure for review, gathering all the security details under system’s knowledgebase, and implementing self-anaysis feature, risk assessment can help improve productivity.

    Review Security Controls

    With the help of security risk assessments, you can check how effective your security controls are and how you can upgrade them. Further, you can take preventive measures that can help you boost the effectiveness of your security controls.


    The security vulnerability assessment system should be as simple as possible and shouldn’t require any expertise in security or IT. This, in turn, helps the management to take the ownership of security for the organization’s systems, applications, and data. Further, it also makes security an integral part of the organization’s culture.

    Meet Industry Related Compliances

    There are plenty of compliances that the government and international bodies require. If your organization fails to comply, legal issues could get it penalized. With the help of risk assessment, you can check if you need to work on any compliances or if you’re good to go.

    Protection Against Breaches

    Security breaches are common today, and organizations must take preventive measures if they don’t want to get into trouble. This is where security risk assessment helps. It provides a detailed report that contains all the issues and recommendations for remediation activities.

    This way, organizations can understand all possible ways data breaches can happen and fix them as soon as possible.

    Improve Communication

    By collecting information from various departments of an organization, security risk assessment can improve communication between all the departments and accelerate decision making.

    Protect Reputation

    A data breach can harm an organization’s reputation to a great extent. However, with frequent assessments, organizations can improve the issues before any harm is done. This way, organizations protect themselves from any negative effect on their reputation.

    Improve Security Awareness

    Security is important for all kinds of organizations. With risk assessments, organizations can train employees to mitigate future risks. This will help employees correct their actions so that they can improve security from their side.

    Reduce Costs

    When a security breach happens, thousands of dollars are spent to get the data back, improve reputation, and fix the issue. However, here not only is money burnt, but also, organizations lose clients and the trust they’ve earned over the years. Now with a security assessment, you won’t need to spend on getting the data back but only on protecting it with the help of a few tools.

    These are the reasons why security risk assessment is important. Now the next section will talk about what is the process followed during the risk assessment.

    Security Risk Assessment Process

    Now that you know why security assessment is essential for any organization, you should also know the process. The process will help you perform security risk assessment in your organization and reap its benefits.

    Here’s the step-by-step process of risk assessment that any organization can follow

    Step 1: Work on Your Assets

    The first step is to assess your assets. Without a proper understanding of your assets, you won’t be able to perform a security risk assessment properly.

    To map your assets, you’ll need to identify every stakeholder, hardware, software, and all data storage container because each plays a crucial role in building and maintaining your organization’s security measures.

    You need to log and track every asset in a centralized database. This way, you’ll be able to update or modify anything quickly.

    Step 2: Identify Threats

    In order to fix threats, you first need to identify them, and with a centralized database of everything, you can easily identify all the threats.


    Image describes about the thompson SCA tool for security risk assessment.

    Step 3: Prioritization of Risks

    Not all threats possess the same level of severity. You need to start fixing the ones first that are most dangerous for security.

    Therefore, when you’re done identifying the threats, you need to rank them based on their vulnerability levels.


    If you don’t do it, you may waste time and resources.

    Step 4: Security Controls

    Security controls are the countermeasures or safeguards organizations use to protect against threats and vulnerabilities.

    There are a few security controls you may need to consider for any vulnerabilities. Here are some of those controls:

  • Physical Security Controls- These are the ones that control physical access to an organization’s assets. For example, security cameras, biometrics, etc.
  • Administrative Security Controls: Policies related to the organization’s security, practices, and workflows.
  • Technical Security Controls: These are related to everything that’s technical, like firewalls, encryption, and anti-viruses.
  • After determining the right controls, you can easily develop remediation plans.

    Step 5: Plan of Action

    Now you’ve got everything related to the threats that can harm your organization's security. So the next step should be creating a detailed plan of action to help you fix all the issues.

    The report should contain the basic and high-level steps for all the remediation steps and the costs involved.

    Once down, you can compare the cost of remediation against the potential cost of an attack that could happen because of the threat and that narrows down everything.

    Step 6: Work on the Fixes

    So everything is set, and now it’s action time. You’ve got the remediation suggestions, and now you should work on applying those suggestions to ensure your organization's security.

    Implement tools and resources to minimize threats and vulnerabilities. This way, you will have a secure and safe organization.

    Step 7: Rinse and Repeat

    This is an ongoing process. Risks need continuous monitoring and optimizations. So the best idea here is to regularly scan everything and check if anything needs to be addressed.

    So these are the steps you need to take to ensure your organization's security. Now in the next section, we’ll discuss the systems included in a security risk assessment.

    Systems Included in a Security Vulnerability Assessment

    While different organizations may organize their security assessments in different ways, here are some of the most common ones that are included in such assessments

    Infrastructure: Under this, you examine the organization’s infrastructure. Such as the physical infrastructure of your organization’s building. For example, do you have a backup for the power supply? Are there enough security cameras that can help you secure the building? Are there enough alarms? Is server cabling and wiring right?

    Server: Here, you need to analyze your systems and servers and check for possible issues. For example, do all the systems have anti-viruses installed, and are they updated? Is there any antivirus installed?

    Network: Here, you need to analyze your organization's networks. Analyze all the internal and external networks like firewalls, spam filters, etc.

    Application: Scan all the applications that your organization owns or uses, both internal and external. Several tools can help you scan the applications to identify the vulnerabilities, as well as come up with remediation plans.

    Information Security: Your organization must have stored sensitive data, and you must ensure it’s highly protected. So analyze this and plan to whom the accesses should be given and how to encrypt them.

    Policies: Every organization has some policies like IT policies , business continuity plan, device and media control plan, disaster recovery plan, and more. As a part of the risk assessment process, you also need to analyze them.

    Third-Party Security: Many third parties must be involved directly in your organization’s operations. Now it is crucial for you to analyze them as well so that they don’t come up with security issues for your organization.

    Now you know what the areas that would require an assessment are. But is assessment the same as management? Let’s explore this in the next section.

    Risk Assessment Vs. Risk Management

    While both are very similar, there’s a slight difference between them.

    To put it simply, security risk assessment is the process of analyzing your current security status. The analysis can help you determine the weak points and take corrective actions. It’s a crucial prerequisite for efficient risk management.

    Risk management, as the name suggests, is an ongoing process of applying best practices to ensure the security of an organization’s assets. It involves several activities like managing and updating infrastructure, updating management policies, training employees to take security measures, etc.

    Want to know how security risk management helps organizations? We’ll tell you.

    Benefits of Security Threat Assessment

    While risk assessment has several benefits, here are the most common ones.

    Spot and Fix Weaknesses

    Letting weaknesses stay in any of the assets can severely harm your organization. That’s why it’s imperative that you identify and fix them as soon as possible. A security risk assessment can help you uncover all the hidden weaknesses in your organization’s assets. Once identified, you can start working on fixing them.

    Work on Compliance Issues

    Certain types of organizations are required to comply with some regulatory requirements in terms of security and privacy. If they fail to comply with the requirements, it can affect them to a great extent. With risk assessments, organizations can ensure that they comply with all requirements.

    Prevent Damages

    The best part of security assessment is that it helps you prevent potential damages that can pop up in the future because of security issues.

    Maintain Competitive Edge

    Cyber security is more than protecting customer and third-party data. You also need to ensure the safety of your organization’s proprietary and business information. Security risk assessments helps your organization’s protect sensitive data along with other information. This, in turn, help your organization stay ahead of the competition.

    Improve Document Security

    One of the most important part of an effective risk assessment is the protection of the organization’s documents. If some private data gets exposed to the public accidentally. It can be discovered during a risk assessment and then be secured properly.

    Keep up With Updates

    Security standards are constantly evolving, and as an organization, you need to make sure that you update yourself with them. Continuous security risk assessments help you do the same.

    By now, we’ve covered almost everything about security risk assessments, but there’s one more important thing to know— the pitfalls and how to avoid them.

    Pitfalls to Avoid When Performing a Security Risk Assessment

    When you start with a security risk assessment, make sure you don’t make some common mistakes that can hamper your success. Here are the most common mistakes that most organizations make while doing risk assessments

    Not Starting Now

    If you haven’t started yet, start now. Delaying risk assessments means attracting potential threats that could damage your organization and its reputation.

    Not Focusing on Everything

    Here’s a common mistake— focusing on the technical stuff only while doing security risk assessments. There are many other fields in your organization that requires equal attention.

    Not Setting Goals

    Before you start assessing risks, make sure you know what the end goal is. This way, you can create a proper plan and allocate resources at the right time in the right places.

    Only Using Automated Tools

    Tools are important and beneficial but shouldn’t be the only way to assess everything. You also need to use humans. Try to involve internal and external security experts to help you assess everything and ensure the utmost security level.

    One Time Assessment

    It’s a continuous process. You can’t just do it once and then stop. Threats are constantly evolving, and you must stay updated to stay secure. So don’t stop after assessing only once but rinse and repeat.

    No Comprehensive Process

    Building a program around a comprehensive assessment is the best way to ensure that all the risks, including both familiar and unfamiliar ones, are addressed.

    Working in a Vacuum

    Risks can impact the entire management team in an organization. So it’s best to include everyone’s inputs and concerns into the risk assessment process. This will result in better and more effective results.

    To Conclude

    Security is important for any organization in today’s insecure world. To keep your organization secure, you must first assess possible risks. There helps a security risk assessment. It’s a process that can help you assess every crucial asset and identify potential threats.

    Once identified, you can work on fixing them. If you neglect it today, it can cause major problems in the future because the attackers are constantly trying to spot the gaps and leverage them for the benefit. So it’s important for organizations to spot such gaps and fill them before they do.

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