Businesses face and manage risks at every turn. The act of running a business in today’s world is a risk in and of itself, in ways that couldn’t have been imagined only 5 years ago. Today businesses need to take into consideration a global pandemic and the health of every one of their employees, on top of having to weigh up the pros and cons of remote work vs. having your teams come into your offices. And one area of risk that often gets overlooked is IT risk management.
What is IT Risk Management?
The right Information Technology can offer businesses a huge advantage in a digital age, helping them to make well-informed decisions and seeing them step confidently into a future where they are able to excel in their fields. But every IT solution has risks attached to it that companies need to take into consideration. And this is where IT Risk Management comes into the picture.
It’s all about understanding the risks to your business’s continued operation, as well as its reputation, and finding ways to mitigate the threats that loom over every company in this digital era. From implementing the correct technologies to enforcing access control to maintaining secure data storage, we are going to look at the 6 stages of IT risk management that any business should follow.
The 6 Stages of IT Risk Management
Any IT Risk Management process should follow six simple steps to identify and safeguard against potential threats:
1. Identify Vulnerabilities
The first step in protecting your business against threats is to understand where your vulnerabilities lie. Understanding the types of data that you control for example – from personal information, to financial details, to intellectual property – as well as where and how they are stored will better prepare you for protecting it further down the line.
And it’s not just data that needs to be protected. Having a thorough understanding of your infrastructure, your systems and the apps that you use which are critical to your operation are all part and parcel of understanding where your business may be vulnerable to attack.
2. Analyse The Risk
Once you have an intricate understanding of what requires protection, the next stage of IT risk management is to look at where the risks themselves lie.
Take, for example, data storage.
Storing your data on-premises may be a secure solution with limited risk, as the access to it is limited to those at its physical location. However, this limited risk comes at the cost of accessibility for the same reason. Cloud storage, on the other hand, is accessible but comes with a higher risk of infiltration.
By analysing the risks to your vulnerable areas, and understanding the impact that they can have on your operations, you will be better prepared to find solutions that will mitigate the risk to your business.
3. Rank The Risks
You’ve taken a thorough look at the systems that your business has in place, gaining a deep understanding of where vulnerabilities lie, and the impacts that them being compromised could have on your business. But what you haven’t looked at yet is which threats take priority. It’s time to rank the risks.
And let’s face it – some risks are worse than others. If a data breach occurs, for example, you won’t be too worried about your marketing materials or your website content. Personal information and trade secrets would take priority. In the same way, if a blackout caused all of your systems to go offline, which would need to be reinstated first and foremost to ensure that your business could continue as normal? Your phone systems and connectivity would likely be more important than the coffee machine.
4. Put Together an IT Risk Management Strategy
You’ve done all the hard work of figuring out where your vulnerabilities lie, analysing them and ranking them, and now it’s time to put a strategy in place detailing what your teams need to do when disaster strikes.
Make sure that you and your teams understand who they need to contact and what they need to do if a disaster strikes. Ensure that your data is backed up, preferably to the cloud so that it’s accessible when needed, and that you have a Disaster Recovery Plan in place so that your systems can be brought back online as quickly and efficiently as possible.
5. Mitigating Risk
Even the systems that carry the highest threat have ways that their risks can be mitigated. In the data storage example from earlier, we explained that cloud storage has a higher risk attached to it than on-premises storage. However, when you mitigate the risk of cloud storage by carefully managing access control and putting security measures in place to alert you to suspicious activity, cloud storage can become a more secure solution, providing both the security and accessibility that your business requires.
Other ways of mitigating risk include outsourcing your IT Risk Management to a reputable IT company, which can not only provide world-class IT services but will have access to advanced security features and round-the-clock surveillance teams which a small business may not be able to afford. This also results in the risk to your business being shared, rather than on your shoulders alone.
6. Identify Vulnerabilities
It’s not enough to simply analyse your risk as a once-off project, put together an IT Risk strategy, and then forget all about it. Risk is a threat that needs to constantly be re-evaluated to ensure that your business, your systems, and your data are protected. Make risk analysis a regular exercise, and always look for better ways to decrease threats and improve your company’s IT risk management.
Managing your business’ IT risks is not an undertaking that you need to take on alone. Solid Systems specialises in both Managed IT services and IT risk management. We help businesses to roadmap their future technologies, as well as putting Disaster Recovery Plans in place that will see their operations continuing seamlessly, even in the worst-case scenario.