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Risky business: Attackers and Defenders™

Risky business: Attackers and Defenders

Welcome back. In my previous post, I presented the first of three activities that Lootok uses to complete risk assessments.

Our second activity, Attackers and Defenders™, identifies threats and vulnerabilities. Remember: threats, vulnerabilities, and assets are the ingredients for a risk. Without these three ingredients, there is no risk. In this post, I will show you how to use this activity to identify your specific threats and vulnerabilities.

At Lootok we love Attackers and Defenders™ because it engages everyone in the room. It is competitive. It involves role-playing. It forces you to think creatively about your business, and most importantly it is fun, which is not a word often used in the same sentence as risk assessments and business continuity!

The Attackers and Defenders™ activity creates an environment for structured dialogue around your organization’s threats and vulnerabilities. The key objective of this activity is to define the threats and vulnerabilities facing your key assets. The activity helps you determine realistic threats to your assets, and the vulnerabilities that allow those threats to cause a disruption. You will also be asked to reach an agreed upon prioritization of your risks, complete with evidence that can be used for reporting, planning, and investment.

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Risky business: Value Map™

Risky business: Value map

In my previous posts about risk, I discussed why we need to consider it, why we have difficulty assessing it, and how to be more objective.

Next, I will explore a number of the activities that Lootok developed to help measure risk at your organization. The first activity is Lootok’s Value Map™. The Value Map™ helps you identify and visualize your organization’s assets. If you recall from the first post, an asset is one of the ingredients of risk.

The Value Map™ is exactly what it sounds like: a giant map on the wall depicting the environment for which you wish to do a risk assessment. The map can be a campus, a country, the globe, an IT map, a factory, or blueprints—whatever environment you wish to measure risk.

Lootok Value Map
Lootok Value Map™

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How to bring business continuity back to the basics

As business continuity practitioners, it would serve us well to take a cue from writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who stated, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

Many risk and resiliency initiatives are more robust and complicated than they need to be. Common signs of an over-engineered program may include: lengthy plans packed with procedures and protocol, a BIA that takes months to complete, lengthy internal audits fixated on industry standards, and just a handful of people who actually know what to do in an incident.

Blessed with “the curse of knowledge,” we as practitioners can easily lose sight of how business continuity is perceived by our stakeholders. We fall prey to assuming that others understand the value of participating in program activities, much less have the expertise to decipher industry jargon (how many times in your career have you had to explain “RTO” and “MTPD”?).

Even Wikipedia’s description of “business continuity planning” is prefaced with the warning: “This article may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may only interest a specific audience.”

Put yourself in the shoes of a stakeholder who rarely thinks of contingency planning or has yet to experience an incident, and it’s even more critical that you keep your program simple.

What would happen if we were to boil down business continuity to just the basics? What if we began describing concepts in layman’s terms, and it helped to ease understanding and facilitate program adoption?

Lootok back to basics grey

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Facilitating an exercise? Find out how to reel people in!

Last month, I showed up at a client’s manufacturing site to facilitate an annual tabletop exercise. The company had recently kicked off its crisis management and business continuity initiative, so I wasn’t surprised to walk in and hear several people ask what this meeting was about, and how long it was going to last.

It is commonplace within organizations to have initiative atrophy or program of the month syndrome. People are doing more with less. Everyone is highly skilled at prioritizing work and recognizing false positive initiatives. Crisis management and business continuity can quickly get categorized as a ‘not now’ or ‘postpone as long as possible’ project in this environment. Therefore, it is important for risk and security professionals to allow our stakeholders bring themselves into the program. We need them to want the program and value the work we need them to do.

In my experience, there are usually three different types of people sitting in the room.

First, you have your evangelists, or your program advocates—they’re often the ones leading the initiative or they’ve already experienced some kind of catastrophic event. On the other end of the spectrum are those who have already decided risk management is irrelevant, so they’re checked out and sighing loudly.

But almost everyone in between is a good corporate citizen who has showed up with a printed copy of their plan because they were told to. Other than the occasional email, they’re not used to thinking about risk. You can’t blame them for wanting to just get the meeting over with and get on with their lives.

This mindset, unfortunately, is not uncommon. Whether people are unaware of the program or struggle to understand its value, it’s important to recruit them as active participants. So what are we as risk management professionals to do?

Lootok facilitate an exercise
Facilitate a successful exercise! Reel people in!

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Crisis management expert, Eric Dezenhall, kicks off the BCI Author Series

The BCI is proud to introduce our first author interview with Eric Dezenhall on April 11th, 8:30-10:30 am, at the Harvard Club in New York City.

From Tiger Woods to Michael Jackson, Eric Dezenhall has been on the front line of high-profile crisis communications and public relations. Come hear his perspective on Trump vs Clinton, BP vs Goldman, fake news and much more. Eric is a world-renowned crisis management and public relationship expert with frequent appearances on NPR, CNN, FOX, CNBC, and MSNBC. He has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, the Los Angeles Times, and USA Today; is a regular contributor to the Daily Beast, Huffington Post and CNBC.com. Learn more about Eric.

Seating limited to 50 seats. Register now!

Eric Dezenhall

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Risky business: Who cares about risk?

Risky business: Who cares about risk?

Welcome back to my series on risk and risk assessments. In my first post I discussed why it is hard to objectively assess risk, and I suggested ways to look at risk more objectively. If you missed it, check out post 1.

This post explores why we need to think about risk in the first place.

Risk is inherent to doing business, and there are only two strategies that organizations can employ when facing risk:

  1. You can accept your risk
  2. You can reduce or eliminate your risk

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Risky business: What is risk?

Risky business: What is risk?

Risk lurks in all facets of daily life. Luckily, many risks are small: like crossing against the light when there are no cars or trying the new, Ethiopian restaurant down the block. Other risks are high: like quitting your job and doubling down on a new start up. Through our experience working with global organizations, we’ve seen it all. 

In spite of the ubiquity of risks, we rarely analyze them objectively. We are all imperfect, and we rely on past experiences and our emotions to understand the world around us and guide our decision-making. On the one hand, it makes sense that we are wired this way— if we didn’t rely on experience and emotion, we’d have to consciously evaluate every single situation anew, and we’d become paralyzed. On the other hand, there is a downside to the efficiency of this wiring: it makes us awful at objectively estimating risk. For example, bad experiences cloud our ability to accurately measure the impact of risks, as well as their relevance. Other factors, such as media attention, immediacy, control, and choice (Psychologist Paul Slovic) work to further compound that lack of objectivity.

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