Many organizations may not believe they need to have IT risk assessments as part of their technology strategy, but risk assessments are an important part of your overall cybersecurity policies, and your technology management as well. Some businesses are unclear as to what is involved in a risk assessment, how it can benefit their business, or even what a risk assessment is. We have broken down the top four questions we often get around risk assessments so you can understand what they mean for your organization.
#1 – What is an IT Risk Assessment?
A risk assessment is the process of assessing and identifying IT security risks, in order to improve an organization’s overall security posture. Oftentimes compliance regulations, such as CMMC, HIPAA, and GLBA will require risk assessments.
There are three main elements of the analysis done – administrative, physical, and technical. Administrative assesses what policies the organization has in place. Physical involves the physical security, such as locks on doors, logs of who enters various parts of the property, and more. Technical includes elements such as your organization’s firewall, or your intrusion detection.
In terms of deliverables, your organization will receive a document that can be used to formulate a plan to improve security. This document will typically have a list of high, medium, and low risks to your organization, as well as solutions to mitigate these risks. It will outline the who, what, when, where, and why of these action items, so you have a clear plan going forward of how to improve your security posture.
It is best practice to have an assessment done on a recurring basis. This will vary depending on your particular organization, but typically at least an annual risk assessment is best.
#2 – How will a Risk Assessment help my business?
The main benefit for your organization is that a risk assessment identifies potential security threats to your business. In today’s world, constantly staying on top of your cybersecurity strategy is essential, and a risk assessment can help with this.
Furthermore, the assessment allows an external party to come in and verify your technology strategy and security. For anything as important as protecting your organization, a second set of eyes to double check that everything is in order is always a good idea.
The assessment gives your organization a long term plan, so you can have a list of improvements to be made, even if you can only execute or budget for a few at a time. This document can be leveraged until the next risk assessment is done, which gives you a highly valuable deliverable even after the assessment is over.
#3 – What industries need an Assessment?
The answer – all industries! Although some industries such as those in healthcare and the financial sector are required to have them, a risk assessment will benefit any organization. At minimum, the assessment ensures that your organization is covering the basics of IT security. It can also identify regulations a business needs to follow that they may not even be aware of, especially for industries that are not as highly regulated as verticals such as the healthcare and financial sectors.
Although smaller businesses or those that are less regulated may not think they are at risk, hackers will go for the most vulnerable, which means that any small business is at risk of an attack. And finally, the risk assessment identifies issues within any organization’s environment so that those issues can be resolved, regardless of industry.
#4 – What is the hazard behind not having a Risk Assessment?
If a risk assessment is not done, issues and vulnerabilities for your IT security may not be found. Although your organization will identify problems piecemeal throughout daily operations, having a risk assessment done gives a dedicated project to finding and improving on areas of weakness in your cybersecurity strategy. This allows your organization to go beyond the basics and ensure you are optimizing your security, as well as addressing the essentials.
A risk assessment is an extremely valuable analysis of your cybersecurity environment that can take your security posture from good to better. While many organizations believe that they are only for highly regulated industries, they will benefit any business that wants to stay protected from the constantly evolving landscape of cyber threats.