Risk Assessments and Why Your Business Needs One

February 23, 2022

If you are a business owner, you’re likely looking for ways to keep your business safe. One of the best ways to mitigate risk is to conduct a risk assessment. While risk assessments can extend to numerous areas, this article refers specifically to IT.

A risk assessment is a process that helps identify risk in your organization, allowing you the opportunity to mitigate it. Performing one is essential because it reduces the likelihood of major incidents, like breaches or downtime, which can severely impact your business. Risk assessments should be completed annually. Read on to learn more about risk assessments and why they are a critical proactive process every business should use.

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What is a risk assessment?

A risk assessment is a formal process where risk is identified and analyzed, intending to manage it. IT risk assessments identify vulnerable technology assets, processes, and services, such as hardware, software, services, onboarding, offboarding, data, intellectual property, and more. Risk assessments help your organization operate more securely by identifying security gaps.

Why is a risk assessment important?

A risk assessment identifies vulnerability and gives you actionable insight.

For example:

  • A lack of MFA (multi-factor authentication) on internet-facing systems
  • A lack of encryption on PCs that house PII (Personally Identifiable Information)
  • An insecure way of offering remote access to your team
  • Unexpected folder access to confidential information
  • Outdated or missing endpoint protection for your PCs and Servers
  • Recommendations to add phish testing and regular training for your team
  • A vulnerable system that offers full access to sensitive data
  • A weak password policy (e.g., shared accounts, reused passwords, short passwords, etc.)
  • A weak offboarding policy that allows employees to have access after termination

By identifying and eliminating weaknesses, organizations improve their security posture. A risk assessment helps protect your business against modern cyber threats, and if performed annually, it is an invaluable process.

When to do a risk assessment

Conduct a risk assessment at least once per year or after significant change within the organization (for example, after a merger) or IT infrastructure (for example, installing new firewalls or servers). IT companies often conduct risk assessments during onboarding to identify existing issues. Businesses improve their overall cybersecurity posture by conducting risk assessments at least once a year to remain current with emerging best practices.

Conclusion

A risk assessment is a formal process to identify risk within an organization. Risk is identified and analyzed with the goal of mitigation. A risk assessment is essential because it identifies vulnerability and gives actionable insight. Conduct a risk assessment at least once a year or whenever a significant change is made. Risk assessments help organizations improve their security posture so long as there is follow-through on the insights received.