How to create a risk register

In this tutorial video I show you how to create a risk register in just under 5 minutes. Risk management is the foundation of data security and many industry certifications including GDPR, ISO 27001, PCI DSS, SOC and a host of others. Risk Management doesn’t have to be hard and it really is easy to create a basic functioning risk register from scratch.

YouTube Tutorial

In this short tutorial we show you how.

How to create a risk register step by step

Time needed: 5 minutes.

How to create a risk register

  1. Create an Excel spreadsheet with two tabs.

    Using a spreadsheet application create two tabs. The first tab is the document control and the second tab is the actual risk register.

  2. Add document mark up.

    Document mark up is required. This document is not confidential so place the document classification ‘internal’ in the footer or header. Add a version control table to the document control tab that includes the author, the date, the reason for change and the version number.

  3. Add a reference field.

    This is an internal reference that you will refer to the risk by.

  4. Add an External Reference field.

    External reference number that shows where the risk came from, for example a Helpdesk ticket, an audit number, an Annex A control, a GDPR clause.

  5. Add a Risk Description

    A description of what the risk is can be very useful.

  6. Add an Asset Field

    The thing that the risk applies to, for example a data set, a system, a website, a building, a group of people, a physical order book.

  7. Add a Threat Field

    The threat to the asset.

  8. Add a Vulnerability Field

    The vulnerability in the control or lack of control.

  9. Add an Outcome Field

    Cover what will happen if the risk is realised, for example a financial penalty, a loss of customers, a loss of revenue.

  10. Add a CIA Field

    Whether the risk impacts on the confidentiality, integrity or availability of the asset – can be a combination.

  11. Add a Current Control Field

    If there is a current control in place, a description of what it is or state no current control.

  12. Add an Impact Field

    The impact as a score, usual 1, 3 or 9 that scores the impact from low to high.

  13. Add a Likelihood Field

    The likelihood as a score, usual 1, 3 or 9 that scores the impact from low to high.

  14. Add a Risk Score Field

    A formula that multiplies the impact by the likelihood. The higher the score the higher the risk and the more likely you will want to address the risk.

  15. Add a Treatment Field

    Record if you accept the risk, are transferring the risk or reducing the risk

  16. Add a Treatment Plan Field

    What is the plan to address the risk

  17. Add a Treatment Owner field.

    Who is going to do the remediation and implement the treatment plan

  18. Add a Treatment Date field.

    By what date will the treatment plan be implemented.

  19. Add a Residual Risk field

    Residual risk that shows the score after the plan was implemented and the affect that had on the risk sore by comparison.


Is ISO 27001 Risk Based?

Yes ISO 27001 is a risk based management system.

What is a risk based management system?

A risk based management system is a system of controls where the selection of the controls is based on risk. It is acceptable not to implement certain controls and the risk accepted. The higher the risk the more control rigour you would implement.

Do I need a risk register for ISO 27001?

Yes a risk register is a fundamental part of the ISO 27001 standard and management system. It allows you to record and manage risk.

Can I use the company or other risk register?

Yes but we do not recommend it. Having a risk register that is dedicated to governance risk and compliance is preferred. Different risk registers often address different concerns and having a separate risk register can greatly aid its management.

Should I buy a risk management tool?

You do not need to purchase a risk management tool. They can be expensive and restrictive once you understand risk management. They are ideal for the novice user or for teams where consistency of approach and repletion are key across multiple departments but a simple spreadsheet as described in the tutorial is more than adequate.

Should I keep versions of my risk registers?

This is not a requirement if you have document version control but is good practice.

ISO 27001 Document Pack

The risk register and risk management process form part of the ISO 27001 document pack.

Risk Management
Risk Management
Risk Register
Risk Register

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