COSO Report Advises Companies To Invest in Cyber Risk Evaluation

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Jan. 16 — In a Jan. 14 research report, the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) urges company leaders to make cyber risk assessment a priority.

According to “COSO in the Cyber Age,” cyber risks “will only continue to be more difficult to manage as time passes, technology evolves, and hackers become more sophisticated.”

Among the many recommendations, the report advises companies to evaluate carefully the investments they make in risk assessment. Noting that companies have finite resources, the report states that “cyber risk assessment should begin first by understanding what information systems are valuable to the organization. The value should be measured against the potential impact to the entity’s objectives.”

The report additionally provides recommendations for boards when communicating internal control information.

“Today, more than ever, boards of directors need to demonstrate their understanding of cyber trends that could impact the organization’s ability to achieve its objectives,” the report states. “While regularly scheduled communications at the board level may include updates on cyber topics, additional communication protocols should also be established to enable timely communications when major cyber emergencies are identified.”

Some of the other recommendations include:

• Understanding how value is created in the organization, where the company's critical assets are and how they are vulnerable to key threats.

• Having regular policy reviews, assessments and rehearsals of crisis response processes to establish a culture of perpetual adaptation to the threat and risk landscape.

• Taking a strategic approach to sourcing decisions.

• Building strong relationships with partners, law enforcement, regulators and vendors. Companies should foster internal cooperation across groups and functions, and ensure that people aren’t hiding risks to protect themselves.

• Having a well-defined process to identify risk and respond to the risk. This makes it easier for executives to understand the organization’s approach to cyber risks when having to explain the approach internally and to regulators.

The report is available at