British Standard BS 7799-3 focused on information security risk revised by BSI

BSI, the business standards company, has revised its guidance standard for information security management systems, namely BS 7799-3 Guidelines for Information Security Risk Management. BS 7799-3 specifically assists organisations regarding the risks and opportunities of aspects contained in the internationally-recognised ISO 27001 Information Technology – Security Techniques – Information Security Management Systems – Requirements. BS 7799-3 provides guidance on defining, applying, maintaining and evaluating risk management processes in the information security context.

The British Standard is relevant to organisations which have – or are intending to have – an information security management system conforming to ISO 27001. BS 7799-3 identifies two widely-recognised approaches to risk identification and risk analysis: the scenario-based approach, wherein risks are identified (and assessed) through a consideration of events and their consequence(s), and the ‘asset-threat-vulnerability’ approach. Here, risk identification takes into account the value of information assets and identifies applicable threats.

The British Standard recommends that, for an organisation to increase the reliability of estimating the likelihood of a security event occurring, it should consider using team assessments rather than individual assessments, employing external sources (such as information security breaches reports), unambiguous targets (for instance ‘two per year’ rather than vague targets and timings) and scales containing at least five categories to ascertain risk, from ‘Very low’ through to ‘Very high’.

Information security risk treatment

BS 7799-3 accounts for risks as diverse as whether the influences of a foreign actor are a threat to the organisation, technology failure, influences of domestic crime (including fraud) and the probable skill of an attacker, as well as the resources available to them.

The British Standard includes dedicated sections for information security risk treatment, with guidance on how a given organisation can monitor and measure its risk identification plan.

Recognising that no two organisations have identical security concerns, BS 7799-3 is applicable for all organisations regardless of their type, size or nature.

Notable changes for risk professionals

Notable changes between the revised BS 7799-3 and its predecessor include conformity to the latest version of ISO 27001, the term ‘risk owner’ replacing ‘risk asset owner’ and the effectiveness of the risk treatment plan now being regarded as more important than the controls.

Anne Hayes, head of market development for governance and resilience at the BSI, explained to Risk UK: “Information security is the central nervous system of any organisation. When it fails, the financial and reputational impact can be devastating for small and large operations alike. Unsurprisingly, businesses routinely cite information security as their foremost concern. For its part, BS 7799-3 was revised to work hand-in-hand with ISO 27001 in assisting organisations to evaluate their risk management processes. If ISO 27001 is the bread and butter of an organisation’s information security management system, BS 7799-3 is the knife to spread the butter.”

BS 7799-3 will be of particular interest to governance, risk and compliance personnel, security managers, operational managers, auditors and any individuals directly responsible for implementing the requirements of the European Union’s forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation in their organisation.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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