Beyond GRC: Integrated Security Risk Management

There are images of extensive, verbose documents, complex definitions, and eye-watering Excel sheets when the term GRC is mentioned. For the past two decades, GRC has been central to core business processes across many organisations at both ends of the enterprise spectrum, as well as in the small-to-medium business space in recent times.

But the world has moved on; organisations are forced to embrace digital disruption and agility if they haven’t done so whole-heartedly. And this very disruption is positioning GRC to become less-than-ideal to solve the challenges that said disruption brings with it.

Many organisations are being overwhelmed by the magnitude, velocity, and complexity of existing and emerging risks – struggling to respond to business risks, rather than seizing opportunities that drive the business forward. The reason is that many organisations’ current risk management mechanisms are undeveloped, disconnected or ineffective.

However, organisations naturally adapt, and it is only later that they reflect and label these adaptions and responses to their ever-changing environment. Over the past three years, we have noticed an extensive shift in thinking; organisations need security management in-line with their processes, as opposed to existing as a silo-ed approach. This is a repetition of a previous trend of IT being an independent function.

What is this phenomenon called? We would like to posit (though we cannot claim original ownership of the phrase) that this is integrated security risk management; an approach that exists within an organisation’s core business functions and processes. Integrated security risk management (ISRM) refers to a set of practices designed to help organisations understand and manage the full scope of risks (strategic, operational, financial, digital, etc.) facing their enterprises, with more flexibility and agility than traditional GRC programs.

Organisations must manage risk with more agility and integration than ever before. The strategies driving business success – for example, technology adoption or market expansion –introduce more risk.  The interdependence of digital and business strategies have converged cybersecurity and business risks creating a complex set of problems. On top of this, as can be seen with the introduction of new legislation in Australia and Europe, there is increased scrutiny by regulators and government agencies.

Organisations have an increasing reliance on external parties including service providers, contractors, consultants and other third parties that complicate their business risks. The media is ready to pounce on any incident – from a data breach to a compliance failure to a corporate scandal. Increasing reliance on technology exposes businesses to the explosion of dangerous cyber threats.  Any delay or setback in meeting business objectives can mean the difference between success and failure in today’s highly competitive market.

In our view, and in a view supported by many of the security industry’s thought leaders, security risk management must not only connect traditional domains but also across business units and the overall business strategy.

As risk management programs mature, the organisation starts building a truly integrated view of risk and is better positioned to adjust risk management strategies to address the volatile nature of risk in today’s enterprise.

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