Today, all businesses face a tremendous level of IT risk. From frequent cyberthreats, such as malicious attacks and ransomware, to unexpected yet unstoppable natural disasters, threats to your IT infrastructure can lead to significant challenges. In some situations, businesses never rebound from the fallout of a data breach or network failure. This is why having robust risk assessment practices in place is so important. By identifying risks and evaluating their potential impact, business and IT leaders can make sound decisions about how to mitigate risks and prevent IT threats from causing problems.
Help Your Organization Lessen the Impact of Cybersecurity Incidents
There are many ways that vulnerability assessments and risk management can minimize the impact of IT disasters. Your IT environment could be vulnerable to a variety of cyberthreats, ranging from employee error to cyberattacks. These vulnerabilities can lead to costly problems, such as data loss and downtime, as well as lost business from damage to your organization’s reputation.
The best way to minimize loss is through knowing the risks your business faces, where the vulnerabilities are, and what you can do to better protect and detect anomalies in your business systems and data.
Benefits of a Risk Assessment
Regular risk assessments can help you:
- Close security gaps – You can identify gaps in your security, whether physical, administrative, or technical
- Conduct business confidently – You will manage risk efforts, knowing you’re spending your finite time and money on your most critical risks
- Compliance growth – Gain compliance by aligning your business with regulatory requirements
- Attract new business – Align your business with risk mitigation objectives that will help you grow
4 Steps for an Effective Risk Assessment
Assessing IT risks is an involved yet straightforward and manageable process. The more thorough your risk and vulnerability assessment, the better protected your organization will be.
STEP 1: DEFINE YOUR SCOPE
The first step in risk assessment involves understanding your organization’s IT infrastructure, application and data assets. Your in-house team or an IT managed security services provider conducting the risk assessment will need to answer critical questions related to all relevant system inputs. These include:
- Software and hardware
- System interfaces
- People who support and use IT systems
- Processes enabled by IT systems (business objectives)
- The importance of IT to your organization
- IT system and data sensitivity concerns
The risk assessment team will document all relevant details of your IT environment. Some of the most critical considerations include:
- System security architecture
- Organizational policies that govern IT systems
- Legal requirements and industry best practices
- Existing network topology
- Existing data storage safeguards
- Technical, management, and operational controls
- Details of your physical security environment
STEP 2: IDENTIFY THREATS
Once your organization’s IT assets are identified and classified, phase 2 involves assessing threats. The risk assessment team will look at potential vulnerabilities and possible threat sources. There are a variety of potential threats that all businesses need to consider to ensure their IT environment is secure. While malicious external threats are a primary consideration, when it comes to effectively reducing risk, the key is to seal up as many holes as possible. IT threats include:
- System failures – Investing in high-quality equipment and reliable IT support can help to reduce the likelihood of a system failure.
- Cyberattacks and malware – There are different ways a threat actor can maliciously attack your system. These can be broken down into interference, including deleting data and DDOS (distributed denial of service) attacks, interception or stolen data, and impersonation. Impersonation happens when compromised credentials are used to steal data or do harm in another way.
- Human error – The threat of accidental damage is ever-present. There’s no way to eliminate mistakes entirely, but you can mitigate this and other risks by methodically backing up, testing recoverability of data and systems, controlling user access, and tracking changes to your critical systems.
- Natural disasters – Never expected but always possible, natural disasters, such as fires, floods, and earthquakes, can lead to lost data and damaged hardware. While cloud systems can mitigate some aspects of this class of threat, they create other challenges in data security and business continuity.
With a solid understanding of potential threats, you can keep a close eye on vulnerabilities by regularly testing the IT system, implementing ongoing monitoring, and with proper patch management for software.
STEP 3: ENSURE THE RIGHT CONTROLS ARE IMPLEMENTED
Once you have a solid grasp of your IT environment, along with potential threats and vulnerabilities, identify controls – those in place and those that may be needed – to keep your systems protected. These can involve technical controls, including encryption, authentication subsystems, and virus protection, as well as nontechnical controls, such as security policies and administrative actions.
STEP 4: ANALYZE THE LIKELIHOOD OF A THREAT AND POTENTIAL IMPACT
Finally, to make smart decisions, analyze the likelihood of each threat, as well as related potential costs. This involves analyzing how critical your IT systems are and how sensitive the system and the data are. You’ll also be able to prioritize which threats have the highest risks and which ones you need to focus on the most to keep your business running.
The Power of Effective Risk Assessment
Gain clarity around your technical environment and stop worrying if your network is safe with a thorough risk assessment.
Cybersecurity threats are evolving every day, requiring businesses to update their security postures regularly or fall victim to cybercrime.
Risk assessments provide a real-time breakdown of the vulnerabilities and threats to your business. As businesses grow and cybersecurity threats evolve, risk assessments must be done regularly to improve and prioritize security investments.
When you partner with Deerwood Technologies for your risk assessment services, you’ll get experienced professional security consultants, backed by our proactive, preventative framework that has consistently safeguarded clients since 2000.