The term “Risk Assessment” has become a bit of a buzzword that is regularly being used by vendors to confuse, intimidate and fear-sell tools. Risk assessments are quite often misunderstood by organizations looking to improve their overall IT security, and the misinformation circling the web isn’t helping in this regard.
With that being said, risk assessments are a vital part of understanding how vulnerable you may or may not be to data breaches, cyber-attacks and other cybersecurity threats. IT risk assessments are not just a best practice either, they are also a necessary part of many compliance mandates, including GDPR, HIPAA and many others.
So, let’s dive into four of the main things you should know about risk assessments before you consider undertaking one for yourself.
1. IT Risk Assessments Help You Improve IT Security
Many organizations believe that it’s not necessary to perform a risk assessment, and that those companies that do it are being overly cautious. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In today’s cybersecurity environment, it has never been more important to conduct regular risk assessments to determine any potential weaknesses in your IT environment that could be exploited.
A serious challenge for many IT teams is being able to justify the extra spend needed to implement security solutions to defend against threats that have not yet had an effect on the organization. By undertaking a risk assessment and highlighting areas where the company is vulnerable, you have something tangible to take to senior management, which should hopefully make it easier to approve the spend.
2. Risk Assessments Are Mandatory
Many people seem to think that risk assessments are an optional extra; something that would be nice to do but isn’t a necessary part of IT security. Again, this simply isn’t true. As I previously mentioned, the cybersecurity environment is evolving every day and threats are getting more sophisticated by the minute. It would be naive to assume that, just because it hasn’t happened yet, your organization is secure against both external and internal threats. Even if you don’t buy that, risk assessments are mandatory in numerous compliance mandates, such as HIPAA for healthcare organizations in the USA and the upcoming GDPR.
3. Risk Assessments Should Be an Ongoing Process
It’s no good to perform one risk assessment and then move on. The rapidly evolving nature of the IT world means that you’ve got perform regular assessments to ensure that you’re identifying and addressing new holes in your environment. The ideal scenario would be for you to have an ongoing and proactive solution in place that audits, monitors and alerts on changes being made to your critical systems and data. Using such a solution would enable you detect and prevent data breaches, as well as mitigating the risk of the most common cyber-security threat in today’s world; the insider threat.
4. It Doesn’t Have to be Complicated or Expensive
Now obviously, the complexity and cost of your risk assessment will depend on a number of factors, including the size and complexity of your environment. However, there are numerous ways to perform a basic risk assessment without unnecessary cost. Some organizations provide free IT risk assessment templates, such as Smartsheet, to help you map out and plan responses to the most common IT risks you’re likely to face. Sometimes it is as simple as keeping an excel spreadsheet with risks and responses categorized by priority.
Other solutions enable you to make IT risk assessments more of an ongoing and proactive process. For example, LepideAuditor allows you identify potentially harmful changes taking place in your IT environment, monitor permissions and permission changes, as well as track and alert on changes made to files/folders.
What to do Next
Now is the perfect time to start your IT risk assessment. Get in touch with us today to find out more about how Lepide can help you improve your risk assessment processes.