Adopting A Risk-Based Approach vs. a Checklist Approach to Cyber Security

July 18, 2023

This article covers:

  • The Benefits of a Risk-Based Approach to Assessing Cybersecurity Controls.
  • Why aligning to a Cyber Security Standard or Framework is important; and
  • How InfoSecAssure helps businesses and their advisors asses the security of their business with an easy-to-use, simple assessment process, with guided help that supports robust outcomes which can be used to support both internal risk management decisions and independent audit activities.

The Benefits of a Risk-Based Approach to Assessing Cybersecurity Controls

In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, cybersecurity has become a critical concern for organisations of all sizes. As cyber threats continue to grow in complexity and frequency, it is imperative for businesses to adopt robust security measures to protect their valuable data and systems. One effective method of achieving this is by implementing a risk-based approach to assessing cybersecurity controls. This approach enables organisations to prioritise their efforts and allocate resources where they are most needed, resulting in a more effective and efficient security posture.

Understanding the Risk-Based Approach

A risk-based approach to assessing cybersecurity controls involves evaluating potential threats and vulnerabilities and then aligning security controls accordingly. Instead of attempting to protect against every conceivable threat, this approach focuses on identifying and addressing the risks that pose the greatest impact to an organisation's critical assets and objectives. By analysing the likelihood and potential consequences of various risks, organisations can make informed decisions about which security controls to implement and how to allocate resources effectively.

Key Benefits of a Risk-Based Approach

1. Resource Optimisation: A risk-based approach allows organisations to allocate their limited resources strategically. By identifying and prioritising the most significant risks, businesses can direct their efforts towards implementing controls that address those specific threats. This proactive strategy helps optimise resource allocation, ensuring that investments are focused on areas with the highest potential impact, thus maximizing the effectiveness of cybersecurity measures.

2. Enhanced Threat Detection and Response: By focusing on the most relevant risks, organisations can develop robust detection and response capabilities. Instead of spreading resources thinly across all possible threats, a risk-based approach encourages a deeper understanding of specific risks and vulnerabilities. This allows for the development of more targeted and effective monitoring systems, threat intelligence capabilities, and incident response plans, enabling faster identification and containment of potential security incidents.

3. Regulatory Compliance: Many industries and jurisdictions have regulatory requirements for cybersecurity. A risk-based approach aligns well with these regulations by demonstrating a systematic and reasoned approach to security. By clearly identifying and documenting the risks and controls in place, organisations can more effectively meet compliance obligations and demonstrate due diligence to regulators, customers, and other stakeholders.

4. Business Continuity and Resilience: By focusing on the most critical risks, a risk-based approach enhances business continuity and resilience. Organisations can prioritise the protection of their key assets, systems, and processes, ensuring that they remain operational even in the face of potential cyber threats. By identifying and addressing the risks with the greatest potential impact, businesses can better protect their operations and maintain essential services, minimizing the disruption caused by cyber incidents.

5. Cost Savings: A risk-based approach can also lead to cost savings in the long run. Instead of investing resources in implementing generic controls for every possible threat, organisations can focus their spending on the most relevant and high-impact risks. This targeted approach reduces unnecessary expenditures on less critical areas, allowing organisations to optimize their cybersecurity budgets and achieve a better return on investment.

In an era of increasing cyber threats, organisations must adopt a proactive and strategic approach to cybersecurity. By embracing a risk-based approach to assessing cybersecurity controls, businesses can better prioritize their efforts, optimize resource allocation, and enhance their overall security posture. The benefits include improved resource optimization, enhanced threat detection and response, regulatory compliance, business continuity and resilience, and cost savings. With cyber threats continuing to evolve, a risk-based approach provides a solid foundation for organisations to build effective cybersecurity defences and safeguard their valuable assets.

How InfoSecAssure Delivers a True Risk-Based Approach to Cyber Security

InfoSecAssure allows organisations to assess there controls in a systematic way with supportive and guided help to ensure that whether you are a consultant or a self-assessor you can asses controls accurately and effectively and provide all the right types of evidence to support the final outcome of your assessment including which risks are the highest and what actions should be undertaken to reduce key high risks.

Learn more about how we can help you today.

Aligning to Cyber Security Standards or Frameworks

Auditing your business against a cybersecurity standard, such as ISO 27001, NIST CSF or SOC 2, is often an essential component of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. It enables you to evaluate your security controls,  ensure compliance, enhance customer trust, and achieve continuous improvement against requirements the market expects your business to be meeting. Being able to show how well your business measures up against a security standard your business will be able to  maintain customer confidence, and safeguard your reputation in an increasingly complex digital landscape. Prioritising regular cybersecurity audits is a proactive step towards building a strong and resilient cybersecurity foundation for your business.

The important aspects of auditing your business against a cybersecurity standard include:

  1. Compliance with Industry Best Practices and Regulations - Auditing your business against a cybersecurity standard ensures compliance with industry best practices and regulatory requirements. Standards such as ISO 27001, NIST Cybersecurity Framework, or PCI DSS provide a framework for establishing and maintaining effective security controls. Compliance demonstrates to stakeholders, customers, and partners that your organisation takes cybersecurity seriously and follows recognised guidelines. It also helps you align with legal and regulatory obligations specific to your industry, protecting your business from potential legal and financial repercussions.
  1. Getting ready for an Audit - To gain customer confident in your security program many industry sectors required businesses to conduct an independent audit against a specific standard.  By assessing your own controls against the standard prior to an audit being conducted your business can be prepared for the audit and know which controls may need to uplifted or implemented prior to  being confident they will pass the audit.
  1. Enhancing Customer Trust and Reputation - In today's digital landscape, customers value security and privacy. By conducting regular cybersecurity audits and adhering to recognised standards, you demonstrate your commitment to protecting customer data and sensitive information. This commitment builds trust with your customers, enhancing your reputation and differentiating you from competitors. Demonstrating compliance with cybersecurity standards can also be a competitive advantage when bidding for contracts or partnering with other organisations, as it provides assurance of your security capabilities.
  1. Continuous Improvement and Adaptation - Auditing against cybersecurity standards encourages a cycle of ongoing assessment, improvement, and adaptation. Regular audits help you stay up to date with emerging threats, new technologies, and evolving best practices. They enable you to address vulnerabilities promptly, update security controls, and adapt your cybersecurity strategy to changing circumstances.

How InfoSecAssure Delivers Outcomes Aligned with Industry Standards

Auditing your business against a cybersecurity standard using InfoSecAssure provides a systematic and in-depth evaluation of your security controls and practices against the most well know security standards globally.  Once you complete your assessment you can prepare detailed reports that are ready to go for auditors review and include all the information they will request during each stage of an audit.

Learn more about how we can help you today.

InfoSecAssure Use Cases

Here are some examples of our our comprehensive platform supports a variety of users achieve important cyber security assurance outcomes that meet the needs of a multitude of stakeholders.

Used by senior risk assessors and a variety of businesses today the platform provides all the guidance you need to get a true handle on both the risks your face and what you should do to mitigate them while, at the same time, providing clear insight into how well you measure up against a range of global standards.

For Self Assessors

By completing just one assessment your business can achieve both risk based and standard aligned outcomes.

Risk Assessments

  • Identify your highest cyber security risks and get suggested actions to take that will mitigate these risks.
  • Empower your team to make decisions that are based on the unique risks that face your business.

Assessments against a Standard

  • Identify how you business measures up against a range of well known security standards including ISO 27001, NIST CSF, SIOC2 and Essential Eight.

For Advisors (Consultants and Managed Service Providers)

Whether you are engaged to complete a bespoke piece of work or to develop a full strategy with just one assessment in InfoSecAssure you can deliver both risk and standard aligned outcomes.

Risk Assessments

  • Help your clients develop a risk aligned strategy of controls they need to implement over time.  Develop security roadmaps that align to your unique clients needs.
  • Assess your clients security posture and identify where your could support them in uplifting their controls.

Assessments against a Standard

  • Work with your clients to provide clear insights into how they measure up against a range of well known security standards including ISO 27001, NIST CSF, SIOC2 and Essential Eight.
  • Build trusted relationships where you can continue to assess and help them uplift security over time.

Contact us today to get access to our full suite of solutions to help build and maintain effective security programs that work over time.

Secure your business.


confidence or certainty in one's own abilities.

“The business has given us assurance that they have security in place to protect our information”

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Established and lead by industry experts.

At the helm of our privately owned, global RegTech firm are industry experts who understand that security controls should never get in the way of business growth. We empower companies large and small to remain resilient against potential threats with easily accessible software solutions for implementing information security governance, risk or compliance measures.

We support businesses every step of the way.

We don't just throw a bunch of standards at you and let you try and figure it out! We have designed a thoughtful way of supporting all businesses consider, articulate and develop security controls that suit the needs of the organisation and provide clever reporting capability to allow insights and outcomes from security assessments to be leveraged by the business and shared with third parties.

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Our platform places customers at the heart of our design process, while providing access to expert knowledge. With simple navigation and tangible results, we guarantee that all data is securely encrypted at-rest and in transit with no exceptions – meeting international standards with annual security penetration testing and ISO 27001 Certification.