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How to Develop a Cybersecurity Risk Management Plan


Learning how to develop a cybersecurity risk management plan has never been more critical for organizations of all sizes.

This year alone, we have seen a multitude of unprecedented cyber-related events. Whether it be due to natural disasters, malicious ransomware attacks, turbulent diplomatic ties, health emergencies, or anything in between, organizations often struggle to secure their assets in the wake of a cyber incident... and, in turn, suffer long-term reputational and financial damages.

The solution? A sophisticated, actionable risk management plan.

Although there are a variety of cyber solutions available to help your team recuperate after a cyberattack hits, the best defense is proactive, not reactive. Common breaches can often be thwarted by preparedness; even the consequences of more advanced ones can be mitigated by knowing exactly how your team should respond to them.

In today's article, our team of ethical hackers will walk you through the premise of risk management plans, how to tailor risk management to your organization's needs, and, of course, what else can be done to safeguard your assets against malicious threat actors.

Let's begin:

What is a Cybersecurity Risk Management Plan?

A risk management plan (also known as IT risk management) is a step-by-step process that addresses potential threats that could negatively impact an organization's technological assets, business continuity, finances, and business value.

A personalized, well-conceived management plan primarily outlines the technologies, policies, and procedures that assist an organization in:

  • Minimizing threats from malicious actors (or non-malicious insiders or outsiders)

  • Reducing vulnerabilities that impact the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data

  • Effectively managing the potential consequences of an adverse cyber event

A popular way to think of a risk management plan is via the IT Risk EquationIT Risk = Threat x Vulnerability x Consequence.

Cyber risk management is a non-negotiable aspect of any organization's overall cybersecurity: by identifying, analyzing, and mitigating events that may compromise valuable digital assets, a risk management plan will help your team adjust to ever-evolving security and compliance needs. As just one example, the NIST Framework for bolstering infrastructural cybersecurity is built on risk management.

Why is Risk Management in Cybersecurity So Important?

When done right, risk management in cybersecurity will help align your organization's unique digital needs, digital priorities, and how each can be addressed in a way that both provides proactive protection and maximizes the return on investment.

Here at Packetlabs, a common misconception around IT risk management is that it's an investment that does not pay itself off; however, that could not be further from the truth. With the rapidly changing technological landscape and the surge in digital services resulting from the 2020 pandemic, the increase in cyberattacks worldwide has been nothing short of exponential.

As described in a survey conducted by the World Economic Forum Centre for Cybersecurity, some of the top cyber-related threats leaders are concerned about are:

  • Infrastructure erosion post-cyberattack

  • Identity theft

  • Ransomware

From the same survey, 81% of respondents stated that staying ahead of cyber criminals is becoming more and more challenging for their teams. These concerns extend to organizations of all sizes and across all industries: with the majority of workforces now operating remotely or hybrid, supply chain disruptions and the enacting of cybersecurity risk management plans have only become more challenging.

And that's not all: on top of internal challenges mounting, cyberattacks have only become more advanced and frequent. By industry, the cybersecurity statistics to know include, but aren't limited to:

  • 67% of polled individuals feel that hospital staff should be mandated to be trained on up-to-date cybersecurity measures

  • Every week, the education sector is the target of nearly 2,000 cyberattacks

  • 79% of financial CISOs have reported that threat actors are utilizing more sophisticated cyberattacks annually

  • Over half of small-to-midsize businesses go out of business within six months of being hit by a successful cyberattack

  • Around 82% of cyber breaches in the law industry stemmed from phishing emails targeting employees

  • Globally, 72% of both state and local governments attacked by ransomware had had their data encrypted

  • Enterprises are experiencing 31% more cyberattacks, with that percentage growing by the year

What Should IT Risk Management Include?

Regardless of industry, IT risk management should include the following components:

  • Locating and managing infrastructural blind spots: Accurately identifying the current state of assets and projecting them to their optimal state will help identify existing infrastructural weaknesses

  • Identifying potential threats (not just existing ones): A comprehensive cybersecurity risk management plan should be updated frequently to keep up with the constantly changing threat landscape, as well as incorporate the mitigation of both existing and potential threats

  • A plan of action for when a cyberattack does occur: In today's digital landscape, cyberattacks aren't a matter of "if" but "when". Once identified accurately, organizations can manage the threat based on the detailed mitigation steps

  • An actionable incident response protocol: An in-depth cyber incident response strategy helps to effectively identify threats and puts teams in action to minimize risk; by allotting incident responders sufficient time to counteract, it minimizes financial and reputational damages

  • Refining IT systems: Regular inspection and audit of IT systems will save organizations from surprises in terms of security breaches and general cyber threats; in addition, it assists with defining an incident response channel and prioritization of response

  • Ensuring regulatory compliance: Any organization runs on consumer trust. Up-to-date and proactive regulatory compliance proves to clients and customers that an organization's commitment towards the safety of their data is top of mind

Whose Responsibility is Developing a Cybersecurity Risk Management Plan?

A Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) plays a pivotal role in managing the cyber-related risks of an organization. Due to being at the helm of both monitoring and addressing the cyber needs of a company (and, in turn, liaising between the upper-level management and the IT teams), the CISO is primarily responsible for the following tasks around information security:

  • Securing support from management and getting protective measures approved

  • Managing cybersecurity budgets

  • Ensuring that priorities outlined with the executive board are executed on in a timely and budget-aligned manner

However, CISOs cannot fulfill their role in a vacuum: SOC 2 Type II cybersecurity firms like Packetlabs are essential in providing both consultative services and penetration testing in order to ensure regulatory compliance and general high security posture standards.

Which Risk Management Framework is Right For Your Organization

When creating an actionable cybersecurity risk management plan, knowing the potential frameworks is essential.

There are:

ISO 27001 Framework

ISO 27001 is an international standard for securing the information assets of an organization; in turn, it works to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of consumer data.

This framework advocates close to 114 controls. As such, an ISO 27001 certification helps to cement consumer trust via compliance with such globally-recognized standards.

Best For: SMBs.


The Department of Defense (DoD) RMF was formulated by the US Department of Defense to strengthen the cyber security of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure.

The framework uses security controls and authorizes the operation of Information Systems and Platform Information Technology Services.

Best For: Any private institute that conducts business with government and government-related entities.


National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cyber Security Framework (CSF) is a tiered process that guides an organization in accomplishing information security objectives.

It is based on five key elements including identifying, protecting, detecting, responding, and recovering.

Best For: Any organization responsible for delivering products and services linked to key infrastructure and global supply chains.


The Factor Analysis of Information Risk (FAIR) gives organizations the tools necessary to quantify security risks regarding financial liability.

This model helps CISOs to quantify the financial impact of probable security risks based on calculations.

Best For: Finance and finance-adjacent organizations.


Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a security standard to ensure the safe and secure transfer of credit card data.

Organizations that store, process, or transmit payment or customer data must comply with this standard.

Best For: Ecommerce.

CIS Controls

The Center for Information Security (CIS) controls are a prioritized set of standards and best practices for mitigating widespread cyber attacks against systems and networks.

These controls were implemented as a collaborative effort between the US Government and a community of security research experts.

Best For: Any organization.


When it comes to how to develop a cybersecurity risk management plan, there is no "right" answer: rather, the individual steps, framework, and follow-up necessary are dependent on your organization's size, industry, and digital needs.

Looking for actionable next steps? Reach out to the Packetlabs team today to learn first-hand how we've helped teams like yours strengthen their security posture against 2023's biggest cyber threats.

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