Projects can often be full of surprises. Even projects with the best-laid plans can sometimes be thrown off-course due to an expected security risk or event.

You can’t predict the future, but with practical security risk evaluation, you can definitely prepare for it.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to conduct a security risk assessment, so you can identify and manage security risks to your projects effectively and prepare your team for success.

What is a Project Risk?

According to the PMI, a risk is:

An uncertain event or condition that has a positive or negative effect on a project’s objectives.

Basically, a risk is anything that could affect your project’s timeline, performance, or budget.

Risk can affect anything in your project: people, processes, technology, and resources. The unpredictable nature of risks requires some serious preparation to manage them.

Project management risks can be broken down into five elements:

Risk event: What might happen to affect your project
Risk timeframe: When it is likely to happen
Probability: The chances of it happening
Impact: The expected outcome
Factors: Other events that might forewarn or trigger the risk event

What Is A Security Risk Assessment in Project Management?

A security risk assessment in project management is a process that identifies, evaluates, and prioritizes potential vulnerabilities in a project’s information assets, such as systems, hardware, applications, and data, and then prioritizes the various risks that could affect those vulnerabilities.

The main goal of a security risk assessment is to inform decision-makers about vulnerabilities in their organizations, so they can take preemptive actions and prepare effective risk responses. It also keeps senior executives aware of the ongoing security risk management efforts.

Running a security risk assessment will also help top management identify areas where employees need training to help minimize risks.

What Is Risk Management in Project Management?

Project risk management involves identifying, analyzing, and responding to risks that come up during the life cycle of a project to prevent them from becoming issues that delay the project.

Risk management can be as simple as creating a prioritized list of high, medium, and low-priority security risks. Or, it can involve extensive detailed planning for each possible risk to ensure the organization has mitigation strategies in place to handle security issues if they arise.

Risk Assessment VS Risk Management

At a glance, risk assessment and risk management may seem similar, but they’re significantly different in several ways.

Risk assessment is primarily proactive and involves testing your current infrastructure and identifying defects and vulnerabilities.
Risk management can be proactive or reactive. Its primary goal is to reduce risk by continuously applying effective measures.
Risk assessment is an essential prerequisite for effective risk management. It identifies the risk.
Risk management focuses on minimizing the damage of the risks identified and facilitating rapid recovery.

Steps to Perform a Security Risk Assessment

Security risks are inevitable and will crop up at some point. However, you can significantly improve your risk management with effective risk assessment. Follow these steps when conducting a security risk assessment.

Step 1: Map your assets

You won’t be able to get a complete picture of any security threats if you don’t have a thorough understanding of your organization’s assets. So your first step should be generating a full list of potentially vulnerable assets.

In this step, identify the hardware in use, all applications, all users (whether human or processes), and all data storage containers. Log and track this information in a centralized database so you can quickly and easily update it whenever necessary.

Step 2: Identify security threats and vulnerabilities

Once you’ve built your asset inventory, the next step is to identify vulnerabilities and threats for each asset.

List down potential security threats and assess the potential impacts for each. What are the chances that each threat might affect your project?

There are several risk assessment techniques and tools that you can use to identify threats.

Risk reassessment: Helps identify new security risks, evaluate current threats, and close risks.
Risk register: Identifies and describes the potential impact of a security risk on the project.
Risk assessment template: Provides a numbered list of all possible security risks and the impact they can have on your project or organization.
Risk data quality assessment: Identifies how relevant risk is to your project to determine whether to ignore or act on it.
SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis: Identifies potential security risks and helps build proactive plans for them.
Root cause analysis: Helps determine what caused a threat.
Probability and impact matrix: Combines individual risks’ probability and impact scores and then ranks them in terms of severity.

Step 3: Determine and prioritize risks

Now that you know potential security risks categorize the risks by severity. Give each threat a risk rating. This allows your risk management team to prioritize remediation efforts.

Step 4: Treat the risk

The fourth step involves creating a risk response plan. Now that you know potential security risks and their potential impact, you need to set a plan to treat and manage the highest risks to acceptable levels. You can treat risks with mitigation, preventive, and contingency plans.

Step 5: Implement recommendations

With a security risk response plan in place, the next step is taking the appropriate action to mitigate the identified risks. Assign each item in the response plan to the right team. Further, indicate steps that teams should take to monitor the effectiveness of their mitigation efforts.

Step 6: Monitor and review the risk

Your security risk assessment should be a continuous process because conditions change without notice. Therefore, review, monitor, and track security risks periodically throughout your project to ensure that they don’t creep up on you.

Also, evaluate whether your risk response efforts are working. Update your processes when necessary to make sure your projects are well-protected against security threats.

Managing Risk with Mission Control

All projects—and businesses in general—involve risk. You’ll never be able to eliminate uncertainties, but having a risk management plan can prevent minor security issues from escalating to full-blown catastrophes.

Use project management software to gain even more control over your project risks. Mission Control has several features, including a risk assessment and tracking tool that stores all project data in one central hub and is accessible to the whole project team. Take advantage of the risk log to log potential risks at every phase of your project.

You can also use our Gantt charts to create detailed risk management plans. You can schedule, assign, and monitor project tasks within the chart. Team members can also add comments and files to their assigned risk management tasks, so all the communication happens in real-time.

Further, our Kanban boards will come in handy when sorting and prioritizing your risks. You’ll be able to quickly see how teams are addressing urgent risks.

Contact us today for a demo of how Mission Control can help your organization evaluate and manage security risks better.