How to create a risk treatment plan
Risk treatment plans are an important part of any business’s IT security strategy, and are especially critical for those seeking ISO 27001 certification. ISO 27001 is an internationally recognised standard for information security management, and achieving certification requires a detailed and comprehensive approach to risk management. Part of that comprehensive approach involves the creation of a risk treatment plan.
What is a risk treatment plan, and why do I need one?
A risk treatment plan is a formal document that outlines the steps that will be taken to mitigate the risks associated with ISO 27001 certification. The risk treatment plan should be tailored to your organisation’s specific needs. The risk treatment plan is an important part of the ISO 27001 certification process, as it provides a roadmap for achieving compliance and certification.
If you intend to obtain ISO 27001 certification, you will need to create a risk treatment plan as part of the compliance process. Organisations seeking ISO 27001 compliance must create a risk treatment plan outlining the planned steps they will take to mitigate IT security risks.
Types of IT risks your business might face
There are many risks that must be considered when seeking ISO 27001 certification. Some of the more common risks include:
Data breaches: Data breaches can have a devastating impact on a business, both in terms of reputation and finances. To mitigate the risk of data breaches, businesses should consider implementing strong security measures, such as data encryption and access control.
Malware: Malware is a type of software that can cause extensive damage to a computer system. To mitigate the risk of malware, businesses should consider implementing strong security measures, such as antivirus software and firewalls.
Phishing: Phishing is a type of online scam that attempts to trick users into disclosing sensitive information. To mitigate the risk of phishing, businesses should consider implementing security awareness training for employees.
Social engineering: Social engineering is a type of attack that relies on human interaction to obtain sensitive information. To mitigate the risk of social engineering, businesses should consider implementing security awareness training for employees.
Denial of service: Denial of service attacks can render a website or online service unavailable to users. To mitigate the risk of denial of service, businesses should consider implementing strong security measures, such as intrusion detection and prevention systems.
Data loss: Data loss can occur due to a variety of factors, such as hardware failure, human error, or malicious attacks. To mitigate the risk of data loss, businesses should consider implementing strong backup and recovery measures.
System downtime: System downtime can have a significant impact on business operations. To mitigate the risk of system downtime, businesses should consider implementing strong contingency and recovery measures.
Application vulnerabilities: Attackers can exploit vulnerabilities to gain access to sensitive data. To mitigate the risk of application vulnerabilities, businesses should consider implementing strong security measures, such as application whitelisting and sandboxing.
Insider threats: Insider threats can pose a serious risk to businesses, as they can access sensitive information and systems. To mitigate the risk of insider threats, businesses should consider implementing strong security measures, such as least privilege principles and access control.
External threats: External threats can come from various sources, such as competitors, criminals, or nation-states. To mitigate the risk of external threats, businesses should consider implementing strong security measures, such as perimeter security and intrusion detection.
Risk treatment options
There are four risk treatment options available in an ISO 27001 risk treatment plan: decreasing the risk, avoiding the risk, sharing the risk, and retaining (or accepting) the risk.
Reduce the risk
Decreasing or reducing the IT risk is the most common risk treatment option and involves implementing controls or safeguards to minimise the IT security risk. For example, you might reduce the risk of data loss by implementing a strong data backup process.
Avoid the risk
If a risk is too dangerous or cannot be mitigated through reducing, sharing or acceptance, then the only option is to avoid the risk altogether. For example, the risk of unauthorised laptop access can be avoided by banning the use of company laptops outside of the workplace.
Sharing the risk involves assigning part of the risk to another stakeholder. For example, you might take out an insurance policy to protect your servers against physical damage. This transfers the financial risk to the insurance company, while still leaving some of the risk, e.g. the risk of data loss, as your responsibility. Sharing the risk should be used in conjunction with reduction and avoidance to ensure all bases are covered.
Accept the risk
Accepting, or retaining, the risk is the least desirable treatment option as it essentially means your business is accepting responsibility for that risk without taking any measures to reduce it. This option should only be used in rare circumstances where the cost of reducing the risk is significantly higher than that of the cost of damage the risk would cause if an incident did occur.
How to create a risk treatment plan
A risk treatment plan is the practical, concrete aspect of ISO 27001 implementation. It involves defining each identified risk, which control will be used, stating who will implement the controls and mapping out timeframes, budgets and other practical matters.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a risk treatment plan for ISO 27001 certification. However, there are some general steps that should be followed:
Conduct a risk assessment: The first step in creating a risk treatment plan is to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment. This will help identify the risks associated with ISO 27001 certification and allow the organisation to prioritise those risks.
Develop a mitigation strategy: Once the risks have been identified, the next step is to develop a mitigation strategy for each risk. The mitigation strategy should be tailored to the specific risk and take into account the organisation’s overall risk appetite.
Implement controls: Once the mitigation strategy has been developed, the next step is to implement the controls that will mitigate the risk. The controls should be tested to ensure that they are effective in mitigating the risk.
Monitor and review: The final step in creating a risk treatment plan is to monitor and review the effectiveness of the controls on an ongoing basis. This will help ensure that the controls remain effective and allow the organisation to make necessary adjustments.
Note: You must complete your Statement of Applicability before creating your risk treatment plan. The Statement of Applicability systematically identifies which controls need to be implemented for each of your organisation’s IT security risks.
To create a risk treatment plan you need to create a document containing the following information:
- Which security controls and other activities need to be implemented
- Who is responsible for the implementation of each control
- Deadlines for each control implementation
- Resources required for each implementation, including financial, time and human resources
- Evaluation and assessment requirements which explain who you will determine if each control implementation was done correctly
Risk treatment plan example
Need help creating an ISO 27001 risk treatment plan?
At BusinessBasics our experienced ISO 27001 consultants can walk you through the entire ISO 27001 certification process including the creation of a comprehensive risk treatment plan.