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Privacy Tech | New risk management tool offers automation of a lengthy process Related reading: Law firm unveils tool to respond to Australia's notification law

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Rebecca Herold, CIPM, CIPP/US, CIPT, FIP, estimates she has done hundreds of security risk assessments since she took them on as part of her career path. While performing the risk assessments, even developing her own methodology to help produce them faster, Herold began to notice patterns emerging.

“When they have the same types of risk, you can give the same types, or similar types, of recommendations with just a little bit of customization needed,” said Herold. “At one point I was doing 20 concurrent risk assessments using this methodology, but it was hard to keep it straight sometimes, as you can imagine.”

Crafting numerous risk-assessment reports helped her identify different risk levels for different topics, but as she was putting together her catalogue of resources, Herold was always searching for a way to automate the process.

Enter software developer David Greek, who has helped Herold create SIMBUS Risk Management, a tool designed to speed up the risk assessment process, while giving businesses the opportunity to conduct the process themselves.

“What we found over the years is, especially for the smallest one-person to mid-sized organization, for them, they don’t have the budget or the funds to do a typical live consulting-based risk assessment." — Rebecca Herold

“What we found over the years is, especially for the smallest one-person to mid-sized organization, for them, they don’t have the budget or the funds to do a typical live consulting-based risk assessment,” said Herold. “It’s way too expensive for them. By automating it, it makes it much more affordable to get a very quality and detailed risk assessment without having to spend a lot of money on it that you would have to if you brought in a consultant.”

Herold added the tool can help larger organizations save time when conducting their risk assessments, as the process can take weeks, or even months to complete using traditional methods.

Powered by Herold's storehouse of experience, SIMBUS Risk Management is unique on the market, Greek said, as it not only allows companies to fully automate the risk assessment process, but users can jump right in and begin using it from day one.

Businesses can tell the tool whether it will be used concurrently in multiple locations and set up other users who will help in the risk assessment process by designating assignments to employees through the task automating tab.

The risk assessment Herold and Greek showed Privacy Tech featured 55 different questions of varying length. Each question has the appropriate legal terms, but was designed to make the questions as easy to answer as possible. The questions are broken down into categories and sub-questions, all color coded in order for organizations to fill in the fields applicable to their needs.

Within each question, users have the ability to attach any relevant files necessary, as well as view “smart pop-ups” containing information on the frameworks and regulations related to the question in order to keep users within the tool if they need to do any research.

Once the assessment is completed, the tool will immediately produce the results, and any recommendations for mitigating the risk. The dashboards on the home page will begin to fill, allowing for organizations to track their progress as they complete Herold’s mitigation tasks and corrective action programs. Each section has a percentage based on the level of risk involved, whether it’s low, medium, or high.

Greek said after the assessment is complete, organizations can go into the findings and begin to assign roles and tasks to commence the corrective actions. Organizations can do this on a question by question basis. As tasks are completed, organizations can fill out when the tasks were completed in order to fill out the percentage graphs on the dashboard.

Overall, the process can take anywhere from a few hours to a week, but Greek said companies are better served by taking their time to properly answer the questions.

Overall, the process can take anywhere from a few hours to a week, but Greek said companies are better served by taking their time to properly answer the questions.

The recommendations come from long hours of entering all 700 pages of Herold’s content into the tool, with the end result turning into an entirely customizable experience.

“When you see this, this was generated within a matter of seconds, but behind the scenes, all of this is customized based upon what the client actually answered within those different five or six choices, so the answers are all different, based upon the customized answers that they gave to us,” said Herold. “Even though this was created so quickly, if two different organizations take it, there are not going to see the same content that’s populated within the report.”

Entering all of the information into the tool was the biggest challenge the team faced when creating the product, outside of adding the ability to perform multiple assessments from different locations, a feature which delayed the release of the tool from the holiday season.

“We spent the time basically setting this up. The only way to deliver this accurately on an answer level, not only did she have to find a recommendation based on every single answer within this assessment, but she had the risk level and a point total, which adjusted the graphs,” said Greek. “We don’t know anyone else that’s figured out this type of algorithm, and we are really proud of it. We are being told it’s a game changer.”

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