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Risk management strategies - ignore, accept, avoid, reduce, transfer and exploit - sketch on a cocktail napkin, isolated on white with a clipping path. Current challenges of the financial services sector aside, risk management has a long and venerable tradition of practical success in the world of insurance premiums and credit card interest rates. This article examines some of the major challenges of software security risk management and introduces the concept of Software Security Total Risk Management (SSTRM), an innovative programmatic approach by which enterprises can apply software security development and assessment best practices in order to meet the twin goals of enhancing business revenues and protecting against business losses. In less than thirty years, IT has grown from a province of largely academic concern to a driving force in world commerce.
With the rise of IT-enabled business has come an explosion of demand for IT products to support people, process and technology throughout the enterprise.
The growth and importance of IT security has paralleled this rise in importance of IT as a business enabler and competitive differentiator such that today, the rubric "IT security" has come to represent all that guarantees IT will fulfill its promise to transform the way business is done.
What is often overlooked amid this phenomenal growth of IT and IT security is the software that lies at the heart of every IT product, every IT device and every IT application.
In other words, the whole edifice of enterprise IT is only as secure as the secure software development foundations on which it is built. Practitioners of software security were part of an even more select group, representing not only the perspective of the general software developer, but typically possessing an even stronger mathematical focus, as well as an added sense of mission around the guarantees of availability, confidentiality and integrity that are at the core of IT security. The business mind - with its focus on the practicality of profit making - has not always been comfortable with the community of software developers. To understand the broad requirements for such a framework, a brief digression into the foundations of IT Risk Management (ITRM) is in order.
Many industry articles dealing with ITRM assume a grasp of foundational concepts and proceed to address the underlying mathematics of IT risk estimation.
The true starting point for building effective ITRM programs lies with a clear understanding of the relationship between business and IT systems.
The desire to improve the science of automation is a key element driving IT - something IT does not share with business. The first stirrings of ITRM can be found in the need to balance the relationship between the goals of business profitability, on the one hand, and two new factors on the other: IT operational integration and IT system uptime, or availability. Common and easy answers to these questions are "Whatever amount makes you worry" and "Any way you can." After all, most people get through the much more complicated balancing act of life with not much more of a profit strategy than meeting basic financial obligations (like your monthly mortgage payments) and trying to manage some important risks (like health problems). But in the same way that IT has made a science out of improving processes through automation, other sciences, designed to help create effective strategies in certain more limited arenas of life, like the business world, have emerged in recent years.
DS is too big to try to describe in this paper, but one small aspect of it is essential to the practice of risk management. Of course, developing a sound risk management strategy is not merely a matter of following this simple dictum. And, needless to say, appropriately and reliably quantifying the cost of risk and the true cost of remediating risks are the most difficult parts of developing a DS-based risk management strategy. Some will say that that this is good enough reason not to try and that ITSRM should be abandoned as an unrealizable dream.
Building on the above simple model of ITSRM, this Software Security Total Risk Management (SSTRM) methodology represents a new, state-of-the-art approach that enables enterprises to more accurately assess software security vulnerabilities, prioritize them correctly, and develop a customized vulnerability remediation roadmap that will help manage business risk. Conventional approaches to software security are not risk-based, typically encompassing no more than penetration testing of application functionality for some pre-determined set of common vulnerabilities.
The SSTRM approach begins with a unified view of application security threats and risks at both business workflow and technical systems levels, to ensure that the business risk implications of application security vulnerabilities are correctly assessed.
Risk modeling, incorporating Secure Software Development Life Cycle (SSDLC) and other best practices drawn from such internationally-accepted standards as the ISO 2700x series and the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), combines risk likelihood estimation--drawn from prior customer Business Impact Analysis or other appropriate asset valuation exercises--to ensure that application vulnerabilities are viewed in the broader risk context of business cost, including the costs of regulatory compliance, operational integration and IT availability. The second part of the SSTRM approach applies the augmented risk measurement matrix within a best practices risk management process methodology incorporating the four basic steps of effective IT risk management: Discovery, Assessment, Strategy and Execution, as shown in Figure 2. Risk Discovery reviews software (application or systems-level technical specifications) in order to understand exactly how the technical system in question has been designed and deployed. Risk Assessment marks the phase of the SSTRM approach which distinguishes the approach presented here from other traditional assessment techniques. Risk Strategy prioritizes business risk due to software vulnerabilities, and then works with customers to choose among the set of risk management responses, including risk avoidance, transfer, remediation or acceptance. Execution performs the set of software security remediation activities that emerge from the strategy - from tactical software "patches" that fix high-priority vulnerabilities - to more strategic programs such as Secure Software Development Life Cycle Best Practices.
This article has introduced the concept of software security risk management as a special case of IT risk management. Reed Augliere, Vice President of Operations at Security Innovation, has more than 20 years of high-tech experience with extensive consulting service definition, technical architecture, engagement management and service delivery skills in sales-driven product companies. This paper is written for boards of directors and senior executives – the people responsible, in their capacity as strategic leaders, for identifying and responding to the killer risks and game-changing opportunities that face an enterprise. We believe that an expanded understanding of strategic risk is essential for leaders to carry out their responsibilities for risk governance, depicted at the apex of the triangle in the Risk Intelligent EnterpriseTM framework (Figure 1).
Of all the risks of concern to boards and executives, strategic risk is the kind most likely to pose significant threats and opportunities to an enterprise. Yet many of these same boards and executives may suffer from a blind spot with respect to strategic risk that can be as dangerous as it is difficult to recognize.
A strategy that was once finely adapted to succeed under particular circumstances may fail if those circumstances change.
Any strategy that is founded on what “just ain’t so” is almost sure to fail, no matter how well it is executed, even if it was once the recipe for success. Many of our most strongly held assumptions are the product of experience – our interpretation of the events we have encountered throughout our lives. Certain assumptions are especially hard to challenge because they seem to be supported by a great deal of evidence in their favor, sometimes so much so that the assumption may be mistaken for an unquestionable truth. However, the sense of security in pursuing old ways of succeeding, in today’s turbulent and changeable environment, is more often than not a false one.
History is rich with examples of failures due to false assumptions about what was “known for sure” that ended up not being so.


In contrast, consider the success of one media company whose subscription-based business model for video rentals challenged the conventional wisdom by which many traditional video rental businesses operated. How can boards and executives guard against being misled by potentially unsound assumptions? Boiled down to its essentials, the first step in TAS is to state a thesis: a proposition or assumption.
The second step is to state the thesis’s exact opposite, or antithesis (“In the next three years, the U.S.
The final step is to describe the implications of the thesis and the antithesis for the enterprise and to identify a new, unified approach that potentially combines both the thesis and the antithesis in a “best of both worlds” scenario. TAS makes an excellent organizing device for identifying one’s current assumptions and constructively challenging them.
The hardest part of TAS is usually not in formulating the antitheses or even developing a synthesis. Arriving at a synthesis of an assumption and its antithesis is a significant step toward constructing a Risk Intelligent strategy. First, scan the landscape for signals that unexpected events may be about to occur or may already be occurring. Second, if any signs of unexpected events have been recognized, ask: Are they “friend or foe”? Nassim Taleb describes the phenomenon of “retrospective predictability”: the tendency for people, after an unusual or unexpected event has occurred, to try to develop explanations for that event that make it seem predictable. To avoid being taken off guard by unexpected events, enterprises need to develop the ability to prospectively identify signals of potentially extreme shifts – that is, to identify, recognize, and interpret the signs and signals that indicate that an unexpected event may be on its way. Once key assumptions have been identified, challenged, and appropriately modified, leaders should have enough insight into what the “unexpected” could mean for the business to create a Risk Intelligent strategy. In a world where the future is unknowable, an organization must be “coarsely adapted” in order to be both agile and resilient.
The idea of holding open a portfolio of strategic options runs counter to conventional strategy-setting approach, in which leaders try to select a single “maximizing” strategy that drives the greatest returns.
A Risk Intelligent strategy begins with constructively challenging one’s own assumptions, is refined through signal detection and interpretation, and concludes with a portfolio of strategic options that the organization holds in readiness against the day when it knows which potential future has or will become reality.
Villages Clubs du Soleil dematerialise ses 20 000 factures annuelles sur 23 sites en moins de deux mois ! Recently, McKinsey issued a report on China’s potential for innovation versus where they are today. Yet, year two study found that many associations weren’t fully committing themselves to China. We recently sat down with Florence Chua, senior director of association management and consulting for MCI China. Until recently, if you wanted to open your own commercial operation as an association in the Middle East you were treated like any for-profit corporation. Associations are often mission-driven in their desire to serve the public beyond the members. Local UAE officials began to see they could achieve a stronger position among the world’s association community by lowering barriers to establishing regional HQ nonprofit operations in Dubai to serve the UAE, GCC and MENA.  Such a strategy could position the UAE as a leading business destination for foreign associations in the GCC and MENA.
Thanks to these efforts the Dubai government has approved laws that would confer nonprofit status for foreign associations as well as remove local ownership requirements so long as they establish their nonprofit business presence in a new facility called the Dubai Association Centre (DAC) located in the heart of Dubai at the Dubai World Trade Centre. Interested association executives will have the chance to travel to Dubai this Fall courtesy of the Dubai Association Centre partners.  Complimentary hotel accommodation and airfare provided by Emirates Airlines will provide executives with an opportunity to experience how the Dubai Association Centre can improve market access for you.
Four virtual presentations were integrated into the meeting program as a LIVE hybrid meeting feature from as far away as Beijing, Dubai, Mumbai, and Rio de Janeiro.  These virtual presenters shared a unique knowledge and perspective concerning mission critical global growth strategy for becoming more locally relevant to customers and members in emerging markets. Look out for a future post where we shall feature the actual archived presentations from the senior consultants below. From big banks to smaller insurers, from pharmaceuticals to manufacturers and transportation companies, to government departments, crown corporations and agencies.
Despite compelling industry statistics that enterprises lose billions of dollars annually and suffer loss of public confidence through application availability downtime or other security breaches, effective risk management techniques have yet to take hold.
These include: protocols, Web browsers, Web servers, application servers, database servers, virtualization servers, storage servers, storage attached networks, network devices, the myriad tools that support the management of these products and the hundreds of thousands of applications that automate the business processes of buying, selling and performing work. Since the advent of the first programmable devices in the 1940s, software development was considered the exclusive province of mathematicians, musicians or magicians.
It requires capital investment in equipment and personnel, as well as long-term maintenance.
Different modeling techniques to address each threat and risk type are combined to augment the more conventional application penetration testing approach.
These assessment activities yield a set of application software vulnerabilities, as well as estimates for the likelihood that the vulnerability will actually be exploited or otherwise come to pass. The four basic steps of effective IT risk management: Discovery, Assessment, Strategy and Execution.
While most organizations do little more than conduct "black box" penetration tests against software applications, SSTRM applies threat methodology to identify high-priority software vulnerabilities that penetration testing alone may not find. It summarized some of the characteristics of the relationship between the functions of business and IT software development that have hampered the developed of effective software risk management programs. These are the risks and opportunities often referred to as “strategic,” since managing the former and taking advantage of the latter is an essential part of an effective business strategy.
Effective risk governance requires leaders to understand that risk is integral to the pursuit of value, and to guide the enterprise in managing risk exposures so that it incurs just enough of the right kinds of risk – no more, no less – to effectively pursue its strategic goals.
That’s why a full understanding of strategic risk requires systematically and regularly challenging the fundamental assumptions that underlie the strategy. At some basic level, the lessons learned from experience are essential to our ability to act.
Indeed, in an environment where change is constant, it’s more likely than ever that any given assumption could turn out to be unsound, either today or in the future.
An unquestioning dedication to the approaches that once made a company successful – especially in a rapidly changing environment – can cause leaders to fail to perceive or adapt to a significant change in the environment, and thus cease to be successful or even survive.


There are also many examples of successes for those who were able to effectively challenge those assumptions.
A postscript to this company’s success story has come from cloud computing, which allows the direct streaming of media on a mobile basis. This should be a “life or death” assumption essential to the success or failure of the business. It enables the organization to make explicit the assumptions on which it has based its strategy, and to hold up those assumptions for critical examination. Examining whether the events in question pose opportunities, threats, or both can help leaders better understand the significance of each event to the business and help the organization make plans to deal with them if and when it becomes necessary.
One way to help hone an enterprise’s signal-detection capabilities is to continually strive to develop your people’s awareness and ability to gather internal and external intelligence about the competitive environment. This requires creating a portfolio of different strategic options, which should be kept open until the preferred option emerges (see sidebar, “Requisite variety and coarse adaptation”). A species that is “finely” adapted to the environment is exquisitely fitted to thrive in that particular environment. In the book The Strategy Paradox, Michael Raynor makes a similar point about strategic flexibility. However, a maximizing strategy is usually highly tailored to current circumstances – and thus, no matter how well it may work in the short term, is apt to fail when circumstances inevitably change. Challenging one’s most strongly held assumptions is a crucial step in the formulation of a Risk Intelligent strategy.
Chinese consumers enable innovation by accepting early iterations of products and services and providing feedback for rapid refinement. You either had to let locals own 51% of your activities and they got a permanent seat on your Board (among other things) or operate through a free zone, which would give you 100% ownership but categorized as a for profit corporation. This approach is proven to deliver assurance to the regulatory and customers, achieving operational efficiency and simultaneously creating wealth for the investors. Yet all succesful organizations have nailed these three critical levers (and a fourth one - execution). Boards with the right processes have a good shot at being the effective contributor their firms need. IT security risk management is one particular variant of ITRM, which brings numerous additional considerations and merits its own special treatment (there can even be numerous variants within IT security risk management, such as software security risk management - as this article has already suggested). Augliere defines and develops high-end consulting and training solutions for long-term programs with enterprise customers, as well as manages Security Innovation's software security risk management line of business. In fact, the only guarantee in business, as in life, is that circumstances are always changing.
Such understanding is an essential step to creating a robust and agile strategy in the midst of turbulence and uncertainty. In fact, the more successful a businessperson has been, the more tightly he or she is apt to cling to the assumptions that have historically brought success.
The biggest risk for market leaders as the dominant incumbents is often an unwillingness to challenge the underlying assumptions of their business strategies and execution efforts until it is too late.
In the first case, consider what happened to the sub prime mortgage industry several years ago.
Instead of assuming that customers would only return movies if they were charged late fees, the company developed a system in which customers pay no late fees, but only receive new titles after they return the old ones. The direct-streaming model challenges the conventional wisdom that the use of content is necessarily tied to the possession of a physical object (say, a cassette, DVD, or book).
It helps leaders identify and describe the antitheses of their assumptions and examine the environment for signs of the antitheses’ emergence, a vital exercise that plays a major role in risk monitoring and preparedness. This is often an iterative process, since our most deeply held assumptions constitute “the sea we swim in” – concepts we take so much for granted that it takes repeated attempts to recognize them as assumptions rather than objective truth. Critically important, too, is to develop an appropriate portfolio of options in advance of the actual “fork in the road.” Organizations that prepare ahead of time to take advantage of shifts in the environment are far more likely to be able to move in time to seize competitive advantage than those who do not. The better fitted a species is to a specific environment, the more likely it is to survive and thrive – unless the environment changes, in which case a finely adapted species may find itself on a rapid path to extinction. The more committed an enterprise is to a particular strategy, the more likely it is to either succeed or to fail. Being organized to ask and answer the questions that can address emergent and strategic risks. The problem is that experience, even experience gained over a span of years, is not always a reliable guide to action. That’s because most successful people are likely to have encountered and overcome many challenges in the past – and one doesn’t lightly discard the lessons learned from past successes. Some of the industry’s major assumptions, among others, were that national housing prices in the U.S.
Instead, thanks to the rise of streaming media, the price of purchase or rental now gives a buyer access rights to content rather than physical possession of the recording medium. In fact, one way to gain a competitive advantage is to create shifts that would be helpful to one’s business – not just to see shifts coming, but to accelerate them so as to become the disruptor in the process of creative destruction.
A “coarsely” adapted species, on the other hand, is not optimally fitted for any particular environment, but rather is able to survive in a variety of environments. He argues for developing options that increase strategic flexibility and deferring firm commitments until uncertainty is reduced. Raynor notes that wholehearted commitment to a strategy keyed to a specific environment can bring success as long as the environment remains unchanged.
Unfortunately, such commitment leaves the organization less able to adapt to sudden environmental change, which occurs much more often than we typically think.



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