IT Risk Management

Marc Othersen

IT risk management is a nebulous topic at best. There are many different ideas as to what risk means and how it should to be applied within an IT organization. In an effort to bring some consistency and clarity to this discipline, Forrester is developing an IT risk management framework. Once developed, the framework will help IT organizations identify major risk areas, identify scenarios linking risks and controls, and establish a common risk language to clearly communicate with business leaders.

In order for the framework to have a solid risk-based foundation we will be using many of the principles of COSO. In particular, the framework will be based on event identification, risk assessment, risk response, and control activities. The IT context is established by utilizing the ITIL framework for IT service delivery. IT services are used to identify risk events. Scenarios are developed for each identified risk outlining the actions necessary to realize the risk. Controls are then mapped to each scenario to either prevent or detect the actions.

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Legislators to the rescue

One of the most substantial trends we expected to see in governance, risk, and compliance in 2008 is the tightening of regulations in response to major risk management failures. Yesterday, we saw a clear example of that, as the US Senate approved a bill that would nearly double the size of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, largely in response to the massive toy recalls that took place last year.

Also this week, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency showed signs of cracking down on disclosure of drug trial results after problems persisted with certain anti-depressant drugs in relation to teenage suicide (even though criminal charges will not be filed).

The sub-prime issue may likely be the next major target for legislative changes, although most discussion seems to be focused on consumer protection at this point, not tighter control over lenders.

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