why gdpr risk assessment is essential for compliance

Organizations looking to achieve GDPR Compliance are required to conduct regular Risk Assessments. GDPR Risk Assessments to be conducted is not just for the sake of the Regulation, but also to ensure the effectiveness of the cybersecurity measures implemented by the organization.  The primary objective is to identify the potential risk exposure and implement appropriate controls to mitigate them.  This way organizations can build-up a strong defense against any potential threat. In today’s article, we will be explaining what is Risk Assessment and how can it help your organizations achieve GDPR Compliance.  So, let us first move ahead to understand the meaning of Risk Assessment.

What is Risk Assessment?

Risk Assessment is the process of evaluation that includes identifying, and analyzing potential threats and vulnerabilities. From an information security perspective, Data Protection Risk Assessments are crucial for classifying and securing sensitive information against any threat or potential compromise. ISO27001 outlines some of the best practices for information security risk assessments. The results of the Risk Assessment determines the controls required to be implemented by organizations for effective defense measure. With the assessment report in hand, organizations can accordingly prioritize measures based on the severity of risk which it is ranked from low to high. So, areas that are ranked high will need urgent attention, whereas those with lower risks can generally be tolerated for the time being.

Risk Assessment involves –

Identifying Risk

  • Assets / Processes at Risks- The evaluation helps in identifying critical business assets / processes that are exposed to threats and failures.
  • Internal & External Threat – The Risk Assessment helps in identifying potential internal and external threats to the critical assets.
  • Key vulnerabilities in systems and networks- The Assessment also helps identify key vulnerabilities or weak areas in systems and networks.

Analyzing Risk

  • Risk Classification– Risk Analysis helps identify the kind/type of risk your assets are exposed to.
  • Level of Risk Exposure- Once the potential risks are identified they are classified based on the scale of severity which ranges from low risk to high-level risk.
  • Probability of Risk occurrence- Analysis of risks identified also helps organizations understand the like hood of risk occurrence

Evaluate Risk

  • Company’s risk appetite– Evaluation of risk involves understanding the company’s risk appetite and accordingly working on building a strong defense.

 

 Why is Risk Assessment essential for organizations?

Risk assessment is crucial for organizations as they form an integral part of Cyber-security Management. We have listed below some reason why we believe Risk Assessment is essential for organizations, especially those looking to achieve GDPR Compliance-

  • Risk Assessment reflects the dynamic technical environment where personal data is typically processed.
  • The Assessment helps identify threats that could harm and affect an organization’s critical assets
  • It helps determines the value and sensitivity of data by identifying the level of risk the data is exposed to.
  • Risk Assessment determines appropriate controls for reaching acceptable levels of risk.
  • The Assessment also helps implement cost-effective measures to mitigate and reduce risk.

 

How does GDPR Risk Assessment help in achieving Compliance?

Risk Assessments forms an integral part of GDPR Compliance. As stated in Article 32 of GDPR Regulation, organizations must implement technical and organizational measures to ensure a level of security appropriate to the risk. For this, organizations need to identify and assess risk exposure by performing a thorough Risk Assessment. This is when and where Risk Assessment plays a key role in helping organizations achieve GDPR Compliance. So, for conducting risk assessment organizations must adopt ISO31000 which is internationally the best practice for Information Security Risk Assessments.

The ISO27701 framework also helps determine the best solutions for mitigating risk and ensuring that your organization meets the GDPR’s requirements. In fact, a lot of ISO27001 Standard Requirements overlap with GDPR Compliance requirements in Article 32. This would include-

  • Taking measures to pseudonymize and encrypt Personal Data.
  • Ensure Confidentiality, Integrity, Availability, and Resilience of Processing Systems and Services.
  • Restore the Availability and Access to Personal Data promptly post an incident of Data Breach.
  • Implement a process to regularly test, assess and evaluate the effectiveness of technical and organizational measures.
  • Effective implementation of ISO27701 will help address risks leading to accidental or unlawful destruction, loss, alteration, unauthorized disclosure, or access to personal data.

 

Conclusion

If organizations have implemented ISO31001 Information Security Risk Assessment standards, their journey of Compliance will be a lot easier. So, to ensure the protection of Personal Data and minimize the risk of incidents of breach, the organization should first conduct a thorough Data Protection Risk Assessment and then a GAP Analysis to determine controls to be implemented for meeting GDPR requirements. This way, by adopting best practices your organization can achieve Compliance easily. If in doubt, you can always approach a Cyber-Security Consulting firm to help you in the Risk Assessment and achieving Compliance. VISTA InfoSec is an international Cybersecurity Consulting firm

Narendra Sahoo
Narendra Sahoo

Narendra Sahoo (PCI QSA, PCI QPA, CISSP, CISA, and CRISC) is the Founder and Director of VISTA InfoSec, a global Information Security Consulting firm, based in the US, Singapore & India. Mr. Sahoo holds more than 25 years of experience in the IT Industry, with expertise in Information Risk Consulting, Assessment, & Compliance services. VISTA InfoSec specializes in Information Security audit, consulting and certification services which include GDPR, HIPAA, CCPA, NESA, MAS-TRM, PCI DSS Compliance & Audit, PCI PIN, SOC2 Compliance & Audit, PDPA, PDPB to name a few. The company has for years (since 2004) worked with organizations across the globe to address the Regulatory and Information Security challenges in their industry. VISTA InfoSec has been instrumental in helping top multinational companies achieve compliance and secure their IT infrastructure.