Technically, risk can be seen as the quantified potential consequences of uncertainty. Such consequences can be good or bad, with respect to our objectives. After all, doing business is about taking risk. An investor will have a certain appetite for risk.
In everyday life, we talk about the risk for rain and we’re not referring to potential consequences as much as the likelihood that it will, in fact, rain.
Both interpretations are fine, as long as we recognize the difference.
What’s in a word?
What happens when a museum becomes a site-specific risk assessment facility and performance space? The Swedish Museum of Architecture in Stockholm lets British designer Onkar Kular create an interactive space where the visitor gets a nudge to start thinking personal safety. The venue is primarily aimed at children and I would love to be a fly on the wall when they make their way through ten different scenarios.
Say, doesn’t that staircase look frightfully steep?
A few notes on context analysis and Design thinking from the final day of Åre Risk Event.
An approach for context analysis in managing risk:
The "local" history?
Your position in place/time?
The views of those around you?
Crisis Management (or Risk Mgmt?) as a Design activity.
In a fluent/ambiguous situation, Design thinking can bridge the gap between predefined templates for action (the rule-book) and an open, emergent approach. Reshaping concepts as we go: Could we judge water quality in terms of 'safe' when 'clean' has become unrealistic?
My impressions from day 2 of Åre Risk Event.
Environmental regulations based on hazard classification as opposed to risk-based (considering dose, exposure) are irrational.
Before a crisis, build trust through 'soft' factors. Watch out for excessive trust e.g. groupthink.
Meet a crisis with flexible, loosely coupled, emergent mgmt structures. Bureaucracy is not the answer!
People have a potential to self-organize.
A common information architecture for gov't agencies will not happen on a voluntary basis.
Day 1 of this year's Åre Risk Event. My personal key take-aways.
Accidents will happen. Social science holds the answer.
Making cities resilient. Disasters are not 'natural'.
Build back better. Guidelines for reconstruction.
Revisit Maslow in the face of existential risk. Courageous individuals with visions.
Bring educators, practitioners and researchers together.
Local readiness, national platforms, UN directives.
Lots of activity in the public sector. How do we define and measure effectiveness?
I'm pretty sure it will involve more than just creating additional bookmarks and hoping the old links still work...
A few years old and at 144 links it's no longer rudimentary enough to ignore. Apparently, I've managed to use well over a hundred tags, a ridiculously detailed level. This in itself would justify a mild make-over.
And no, free-text web searching would not do the trick. I find my bookmarks useful. Your mileage may vary.
Risk acceptance is perfectly reasonable in many cases where it would be too expensive or even impossible to mitigate a risk. Exposing a system to the Internet carries substantial risk and yet we do so because that's where potential customers are.
Who has the authority to accept risk? It's down to policy, ownership of systems and ultimately management structures.
Risk acceptance should be a conscious, documented decision and not just lack of action.
We can (and must) assess risk through lenses available, but to achieve business relevance we need an element of intersubjectivity. A metric shouldn't depend on what individuals happen to be involved.
Therefore, we need methods based on a common understanding of basic concepts. We could take a vote on what constitutes a "threat" but the fact that we need to take a vote is a reflection of low industry maturity.
If we document what perspectives are represented, how risk is constructed from components, how likelihood is quantified - if the SRA is transparent - the reader will know how to use it, what to trust and what to improve.
When I as your assessor do my level best with adequate resources and you as system owner trust me, we can get a lot done. Just don't call it objectivity.
A quantified risk level guides decision makers in prioritizing how to spend wisely in treating risks. If applied information security is to be realized cost-effectively, the risk level is our tool. It is derived by estimating the risk event in terms of its probability and impact - ideally in monetary terms.
Objectivity in risk quantification requires historical data as a foundation for event likelihood plus a thorough understanding of its business impact.
If a risk isn't clearly described, it simply isn't understood and will not be effectively treated.
Poor risk descriptions all but ensure that valuable insight from the SRA never reaches the right ears.
Objectivity in risk description requires pedagogy, language skills and sufficient boldness to communicate in no uncertain terms so that all stakeholders will understand the risk - through its interrelated components - the same way we did when constructing it.
This implies establishing timing and scope in such a way that best supports the decision situation which triggered this SRA.
We must also capture the most important risk components and successfully construct combinations which constitute the most relevant risks within scope.
Objectivity in risk identification requires complete knowledge of our system as well as existing threat sources and vulnerabilities plus unlimited creativity and a total lack of bias.
If a Security Risk Assessment (SRA) is to be objective, three conditions must be met.
Risk should be objectively identified.
Risk should be objectively described.
Risk should be objectively quantified.
All three conditions must be met, or the SRA will not constitute an objective statement about security risk.
Hold it right there.
What is a fact about risk? Risk concerns potential future events. What facts do we have about the future? That's right. None, whatsoever.
So, in the absence of facts - what can we offer? Is there such a thing as an objective risk assessment?