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The Evolving Landscape of IT Risk: Strategies for Effective Governance

Ashwin Prajapati, Chief Information Officer, Symphony Limited

Ashwin Prajapati is an IT and technology leader who has extensively worked in consumer goods, IT consulting, steel, cement, automobiles, and others for IT transformation projects. Additionally, he shares expertise in machine learning and design thinking.

In a conversation with Keerthana, Correspondent, CIO Insider Magazine,Ashwin Prajapati, Chief Information Officer at Symphony Limited,shared his views and thoughts on the strategies or techniques that should be used to mitigate IT risks, as well as what steps must be taken to ensure compliance with relevant regulations and standards in the organization's IT operations.

What methodologies or frameworks should be employed to assess and manage IT risks within the organization?
In my opinion, here are some methodologies or frameworks that should be employed to access and manage IT risks within the organization:

• ISO 27005 Risk Management: This International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) standard provides guidance for information security risk management. It involves understanding the organization's environment, the risk assessment process, and risk treatment choices.

• NIST Cybersecurity Framework: Developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), this framework provides a set of principles, best practices, and standards for managing and reducing cybersecurity risks. It focuses on five important functions: identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover.

• FAIR (Factor Analysis of Information Risk): FAIR is a quantitative risk assessment methodology that assists organizations in understanding, analyzing, and quantifying financial information and cybersecurity threats.

What steps must be taken to ensure compliance with relevant regulations and standards in the organization's IT operations?
• The first step in ensuring compliance with applicable rules and standards in the organization's IT operations is to identify the applicable regulations and standards. Industry-specific rules (for example, GDPR for data privacy, HIPAA for healthcare, PCI DSS for credit card processing) and general IT standards (for example, ISO 27001 for information security, NIST Cyber security Framework) may be included.

• Appoint a compliance team or officer to oversee managing compliance initiatives. This team should have a thorough awareness of the applicable legislation and standards, and it should collaborate closely with IT and business units to put in place the appropriate controls.

• To resolve identified issues, implement the controls and measures mandated by rules and standards. This may include technical controls (such as encryption and access limits), administrative controls (such as employee training and incident response plans), and physical controls (such as data centre access limitations).

How should one establish and maintain a culture of risk awareness and accountability within the IT department and across the organization?
• The most important factor is leadership commitment. Organizational leaders, particularly IT executives and senior management, must demonstrate a commitment to risk awareness and accountability. They should set a good example, prioritize risk management activities, and participate actively in risk-related discussions.

• Emphasize the significance of risk knowledge and accountability to all employees. Share updates on security events, prospective hazards, and the impact of risk-aware behaviors on a regular basis. Use simple language to ensure that everyone understands their role in risk mitigation.

• Promote cross-functional collaboration across IT, risk management, legal, compliance, and business departments. This partnership guarantees that risk management initiatives are adequately incorporated into the broader strategy of the organization.

• Review and update risk management policies and procedures on a regular basis.

• Keep staff up to date on the ever-changing risk landscape and the most recent cybersecurity risks. Share important news, security updates, and best practices on a regular basis.

The most important factor is leadership commitment. Organizational leaders, particularly IT executives and senior management, must demonstrate a commitment to risk awareness and accountability.

In your opinion, what are some strategies or techniques that could mitigate IT risks?
According to me here are some effective strategies that should be used to mitigate IT risks:

• Conduct regular risk assessments to identify and prioritize information technology threats. To assess the possibility and impact of risks, use proven approaches such as ISO 27005, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, or FAIR. Create risk management strategies to address and mitigate high-priority hazards.

• Use the concept of least privilege to implement strong access controls that limit user privileges and restrict access to sensitive information. This decreases the risk of data breaches by preventing unauthorized access.

• Maintain all software, operating systems, and apps with the most recent security patches and updates. This reduces the number of vulnerabilities that attackers could exploit.

• Use monitoring tools and conduct regular audits to detect and respond to security incidents as soon as possible.

• To protect cloud settings, ensure correct configuration, data encryption, and access controls are in place.

How do IT professionals stay updated with emerging trends and best practices in IT governance and risk management?
• Pursuing relevant certifications in IT governance and risk management, such as Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), is one of the best ways to stay up to date as an IT professional. These certificates generally require continuing education to retain, ensuring practitioners stay updated.

• Attend IT governance, risk management, and cybersecurity conferences, seminars, webinars, and workshops. These events allow you to learn from industry professionals, network with peers, and obtain insights into upcoming trends.

• Subscribe to IT-related publications, journals, and magazines that publish articles on governance, risk management, and cybersecurity on a regular basis. These resources provide useful information and updates on industry changes.

• To gain access to a wide range of courses on IT governance and risk management topics, use online learning platforms such as Udemy, Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight.

• Connect with other IT professionals by attending local meetups and networking events. These interactions can result in the sharing of knowledge and the exposure to new ideas.

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