Five Things an IT Security Assessment will Reveal About Your Business
IT security is one of those business risks that can go under the radar until the worst happens. Businesses which do not operate in the technology arena are especially vulnerable to the consequences of the lack of IT risk assessment. Fortunately, these existential risks can be completely avoided.
What does an IT security assessment do?
In essence, IT security assessments are the actions and procedures that determine, evaluate and then eliminate a range of vulnerabilities in technology systems and the business processes linked to those systems.
Security assessments go beyond merely looking for security holes: a qualified cyber security services consultant will look at procedural vulnerabilities too, as well as examining weak spots and considering the broader business picture.
Top five things an IT security assessment can reveal
Why are we producing a list of the top five things an IT security assessment can reveal? First, businesses should understand the breadth and scope of cyber security risks in order to appreciate the need for formal, professional analysis. Next, a business may want to judge the competence of its existing cyber security services. Let’s take a look:
The most business-critical vulnerabilities
In managing cyber security risks, businesses have a choice between spending a large sum of money to mitigate all risks or making savings by leaving some risks unattended to. One way to balance this decision is to identify the most critical vulnerabilities. They are the risks that are most likely to be realised and to cause damage.
For example, an IT risk assessment may identify old, out-of-date technology as a major risk to your business. The opportunity for accidental human mistakes is another big source of business-critical IT failures, while the same goes for malicious human actions which can lead to real business harm.
Unknown vendor risks
With a cloud-first approach, most businesses are relatively immune to natural disaster, but it also implies a growing reliance on third-party vendors. Experienced cyber security specialists will also examine the risks that vendors present.
For example, what happens to business continuity if a particular vendor suddenly goes offline? What if a vendor is unable to provide ongoing security patches and updates or, worse still, is unable to provide support for malfunctioning equipment? Your risk assessment will identify these vulnerabilities and provide you with an opportunity to compensate – or change vendors.
Where your real IT assets lie
Understanding where vulnerabilities lie also involves identifying your most valuable technology assets. Does your company have trade secrets that need strong protection? Are you highly reliant upon a single server to ensure business continuity?
Identifying these crucial IT assets can help a business ensure that the necessary caution is exercised in handling these assets. It will also enable your business to implement the required protective measures that ensure assets such as partner documents and customer information are safe from prying eyes and protected against data loss.
The biggest threats your business faces
In addition to identifying the most important IT assets in a business, alongside the most risk-prone vulnerabilities, a business must also come to grips with the biggest threats. To a large extent, these threats are common to all businesses and include typical cyber security issues such as malware, the risk of phishing emails and indeed the risk of internal malicious actions.
Nonetheless, these threats will vary from business to business, with some companies facing threats others don’t – perhaps due to the exposure of a branch network, for example. Again, the role of an IT risk assessment is to tease out these threats so that a business has the opportunity to address concerns before disaster strikes.
Points to help improve overall security
Disaster-proof security requires a business to adopt a security-centred mindset. A cyber security expert can help your business adopt a security-first posture: in doing so, your business can establish the guidelines and steps that ensure that business IT assets are continuously protected as strongly as possible.
Generally speaking, security is boosted by not only trying to cover every single possible point of failure, but by also prioritising security efforts. A risk assessment will help boost overall security by helping a business find the areas on which it should focus the most, while simultaneously highlighting the biggest gaps.
The benefits of a well-considered IT security risk assessment
We’ve outlined what an IT-focused risk assessment can highlight, but what benefits does a risk assessment offer? We think businesses should consider these three key benefits that emerge from a comprehensive IT risk assessment:
- Cap costs. Yes, an IT risk assessment will have an initial cost, but by reducing risk exposure in response to an assessment, your business will prevent expensive mishaps. In the long run, this will save money by removing the need for expenditure on expensive failures and the costs of paying compliance fines, for example.
- Understand your business. A risk assessment will shed light on many areas of your business and its processes that can reveal problems that have gone undiscovered. Doing so can help guide employees to safer practices, avoiding the riskiest factors such as simple passwords and a lack of good security practice.
- Avoid the worst. Cyber risks do not always translate into action, and an incident-free run can lull a company into thinking that cyber security is not a major concern. A risk assessment will highlight what a company should be concerned about, allowing it to step in and make the necessary changes before the worst happens – and cyber security incidents can be extremely costly.
In short, an IT security risk assessment run by a trusted IT partner has substantial benefits and is likely to highlight major shortcomings in IT procedures. Indeed, where companies have not recently performed an IT risk assessment, they are well advised to do so before the risk of disaster becomes too high.