More and more companies are relying on the web, not only to be their premier source of customer interaction but also to carry out cloud-related tasks and functions associated with running their business. When a company is able to securely run their business, both management and production employees can focus on doing what they do best — ensuring the success of business operations. In this article, we will outline 8 steps businesses can follow to assess the level of risk associated with their current IT operations.
Thoroughly Define Vulnerabilities
Gone are the days when installing a good antivirus program on their computers meant that a company was protected from all threats. While companies should still require this, of course, there are many more areas of vulnerability. Assessing risk means defining all potential vulnerabilities such as fire, a natural disaster, theft, ransomware, phishing attempts, and more, in some instances. Anything that can compromise employee productivity, or negatively affect a company’s ability to adhere to compliance rules has the potential to be disruptive.
Communication is Key
As with any other successful project, communication is a key component to ensuring a successful risk assessment outcome. When key players understand why they are being called to evaluate risk in their areas of function, they will be more successful in identifying areas that could pose a problem. When those players do report their findings, it’s just as important for those in charge of the risk assessment project to clarify any unclear points, so they have a clear understanding of the potential issues.
Both hardware and software must be evaluated to look for weaknesses. Operational data such as accounts receivable and payable, HR data, business forecasting, company salaries, etc. is also an asset. Any risks along the pipeline of handling this type of data should be evaluated as well.
Once all potential points of risk are gathered and thoroughly understood, the next step is to analyze each potential risk. The areas most vulnerable, the likelihood of some type of attack or interruption in operations, and the ramifications of such an event occur, should all be evaluated and categorized.
Make Recommendations, Then Review
Those in charge of the risk assessment will also likely be the ones to make recommendations to address each security concern. As part of the process, department heads should have an opportunity to review the recommendations made by the risk assessment team and provide feedback. Once plans are solidified, each department can develop a strategy to address each of the security issues related to their specific function.
Once everyone is on board with the solutions that address each point in the risk assessment project, it’s time to implement the solutions. Some departments may institute their solutions fairly quickly. Others may require more time to fully address complex functions. If roadblocks occur, feedback should be given to the risk assessment team so they can research and provide alternative solutions.
It’s not always possible to completely eliminate all risks when dealing with IT infrastructure, software, or data. Still, companies can achieve the goal of risk mitigation when they know they’ve done everything possible to reduce the potential of an adverse event. To help accomplish this goal, department heads should set specific benchmarks along the way, making sure they are meeting their own expectations of progress, as well as the expectations of upper management.
The only constant regarding information technology is that it is always changing. The same needs to be said about risk assessment. While putting solutions in place to deter security threats is the goal of risk assessment, the process must be regularly evaluated. New hardware or software can require changes in the way employees perform their functions, and the hardware or software itself can open up a security risk that did not exist previously. Early on, simple modifications may be sufficient to address changes. However, a full risk re-assessment is ideally performed on average, about every two years.
If you would like to know more about how to develop and implement an IT risk assessment plan, please contact us!