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  • Julian Talbot

A Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting an Enterprise Security Risk Assessment

Conducting an enterprise security risk assessment (ESRA) is a crucial step in ensuring the security and resilience of your organization. An ESRA differs from a traditional security risk assessment because it takes a whole-of-organization view of security risks.


It involves taking a helicopter view of your organization's security risks, ignoring the day-to-day risks in favor of understanding the collective impact of security risks on objectives, as well as their underlying sources or root causes.



An ESRA helps you identify and prioritize potential security risks and develop strategies to manage them effectively. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to conduct an ESRA:


  1. Scope: Define the scope of your ESRA, including the assets, systems, and processes that will be included. This will help ensure that you are considering all potential sources of risk.

  2. Assets at risk: Identify the most critical assets to your organization and the potential consequences of a security breach. This will help you prioritize your risk management efforts.

  3. Sources of risk: Identify the sources of risk that could impact your organization, including internal factors (such as inadequate policies and procedures) and external factors (such as cyber threats or natural disasters).

  4. Threat assessment: Assess the intent and capability of the threat sources, as well as any relevant organizational vulnerabilities..

  5. Risk identification using CASE: Use the CASE (consequence, asset, source, event) method to identify specific risks and their root causes. This will help you understand the underlying risk drivers and develop more effective risk management strategies.

  6. Risk assessment and evaluation: Evaluate the risks identified in your ESRA and prioritize them based on their likelihood and impact.

  7. Risk treatment plans using 4As: Develop risk treatment plans that are actionable, achievable, appropriate, and agreed upon. This will ensure that your risk management efforts are effective and aligned with your organization's needs.


As you conduct your ESRA, keeping track of your findings and observations is essential, even if they don't necessarily qualify as risks. This could include issues such as inadequate maintenance or training that could potentially lead to security breaches in the future. By focusing on the root causes of risk, you can develop more effective and sustainable risk management strategies at the enterprise level.

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