Risk Prioritization

Risks may be infinite, but our time and budget (sadly) are not. Risk prioritization is the process of analyzing identified risks and deciding the order in which their mitigation deserves your time and attention. Let’s discover how cyber risk prioritization works, which considerations are involved, and how modern GRC technology can improve efficiency and results.

Risk Prioritization

What is Risk-Based Prioritization?

Risk prioritizing is the process of identifying the most critical risks so they can be addressed first. Priorities should be set using the likelihood of a risk and the potential impact it poses to the company. For example, an earthquake would have a high impact on your organization but in a location showing no signs or history of earthquakes, the likelihood will be low, and this risk may be pushed to the bottom of the mitigation list. On the other hand, if your organization’s critical asset is its data centers, and all of the information and access is held online, in the current climate a cyber attack is both likely to take place and will be severe in its impact. This is a risk that your organization would move to the top of the list. 

The aim is to determine a most-to-least-critical rank-order of identified risks. A major purpose of prioritizing risks is to form a basis for allocating resources. Prioritization should be tied to mission/business needs and maximize the use of available resources.

Start Getting Value With
Centraleyes for Free

See for yourself how the Centraleyes platform exceeds anything an old GRC
system does and eliminates the need for manual processes and spreadsheets
to give you immediate value and run a full risk assessment in less than 30 days

Learn more about Risk Prioritization

The Levels of Risk Prioritization

Five categories can be used to rank the effects of risk. These are based on the potential severity of the damage:

  • TOLERABLE RISK: Insignificant risks are those that have a very low chance of harm.
  • LOW RISK: Minor risks are those with a negligible chance of having negative consequences.
  • MEDIUM RISK: Moderate risks are those that do not constitute a serious threat but nevertheless have the potential to cause significant harm.
  • HIGH RISK: Critical risks are those that will seriously affect a project’s success and have significant adverse repercussions.
  • INTOLERABLE RISK: Risks that cause significant system loss are examples that will necessitate terminating procedures, systems or productivity, which is referred to as catastrophic.

A risk prioritization matrix (also referred to as an impact matrix or a probability matrix)  is a useful technique that, by focusing on the likelihood of prospective risks, can aid in risk evaluation. Using a risk assessment matrix, you can quickly determine the risk of your project.

An example of a simple risk matrix:

simple risk matrix

The Various Types of Risks

The impact of a successful attack can be split into two types: “technical impact” and the “business impact”. Most risks can be categorized into 5 main areas:

  1. Cybersecurity Risks

In cybersecurity, there are many types of risks involved, here are just a few:

  • Ransomware. 
  • Phishing.
  • Data leakage. 
  • Hacking. 
  • Insider threat.
  • Physical.

These risks can lead to business, operational and reputational damage and should be carefully monitored and managed. Vendor risks, supply chain risks and other third parties should be prioritized within cybersecurity risks. There are many global standards and frameworks to help organizations prioritize their mitigation of these risks. Use of automation can greatly reduce manual labor in identifying and prioritizing these risks.

  1. User and Functionality Risks

These are risks that pertain to the use and functionality of your product or service. Consideration should go to user access and authorization, web security application, adoption rate and training.

  1. Control Risks

Controls are put in place to ensure an expected outcome or level of security. Control risks are the risk of these internal and important controls failing. It is important that they are checked, tested, monitored, updated and regularly assessed, according to their importance.

  1. Performance Risks

Much like control risks, an organization can’t risk performance failures. Performance risks can stem from improper implementation or maintenance, insufficient employee training, changes in demand or purpose, and many more. Companies need to keep a finger on the pulse that their product or service is evolving along the right path to avoid these issues and have remediation steps at the ready.

  1. System Architecture Risks

Intuitively, architectural risk refers to how vulnerable a design’s performance is in the face of unknown factors. High-level architectural design decisions are frequently made in occupational processes using spreadsheets and other advanced analytical models or data gleaned from experience. 

Whether it’s a new program added to the technology stack or new users added to the network, you must always consider the chances and effects of adding another link to your overall IT landscape.

Risk Prioritization Software Solutions

Using a modern GRC platform will take care of prioritizing your cybersecurity risks. Use automated tools to conduct comprehensive risk assessments, compare to official industry risk frameworks and guidelines, measure impact and likelihood and close gaps through automated remediation steps. 
The Centraleyes risk and compliance management platform offers all these cutting-edge tools, plus the ability to generate tailored risk reports, turning technical risk into business risk as well as comprehensive vendor risk management capabilities for total control over your organization’s risks. Contact us now for a free trial and begin prioritizing risks today.

Start Getting Value With
Centraleyes for Free

See for yourself how the Centraleyes platform exceeds anything an old GRC
system does and eliminates the need for manual processes and spreadsheets
to give you immediate value and run a full risk assessment in less than 30 days

Want to talk to Centraleyes about Risk Prioritization?

Related Content

Authorization to Operate (ATO)

Authorization to Operate (ATO)

What is an ATO? An ATO is a hallmark of approval that endorses an information system…


What is StateRAMP? In 2011, the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) laid the groundwork…
Segregation of Duties

Segregation of Duties

What is the Segregation of Duties? Segregation of duties (SoD) is like a game of checks…
Skip to content