We all want to keep our businesses protected and in today’s digital age, this means ensuring our IT security is strong. IT security assessments are a fundamental part of an IT health check and in ensuring everything is running smoothly. They are used to identify areas for improvement and in this guide, we will break down what is included so you can make sure your security is up to standard.

What Is An IT Risk Assessment?

An IT risk assessment is, as it sounds, an assessment of potential risks relating to your IT systems. The process is designed to identify all potential IT-related events which pose a threat to you and your business. IT risk assessments are fundamental to a business’ cyber security, preventing cyber attacks and mitigating their effects.

Why You Need An It Risk Assessment?

Falling victim to cyber crimes can have significant consequences for a business. The effects of a cyber attack range from loss of data and system downtime to legal consequences. All these consequences can result in the loss of customers and/or money, making them severely detrimental to a business. An IT risk assessment is key to giving you the knowledge needed to effectively prevent and mitigate such attacks and therefore protect your business.

Identify Valuable Assets

The first thing on your IT risk assessment is to identify valuable assets which could be damaged or stolen by threats. Such assets include websites, servers, credit card information and contact details.

Identify Consequences

Secondly, identify the potential consequences if the assets you identified were damaged. You are looking for things that could damage your business in any way including data loss which could, in turn, result in legal consequences such as fines. System downtime is another example of a consequence which could damage your business, costing you time and money.  

Identify Vulnerabilities

Thirdly, you will want to identify vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities are weaknesses which will enable threats to access and damage assets. Improper access permissions giving the wrong people unnecessary access to assets is a great example of this. Other examples include physical vulnerabilities such as old equipment. Vulnerabilities could also include improper cyber security training as this leaves people susceptible to falling for phishing scams or creating insecure passwords.

Identify Threats

The fourth item on your checklist is to identify threats. Threats are things which may exploit your vulnerabilities and cause damage to your assets (leading to the consequences you identified). Threats can be malicious like intentional cyber attacks or accidentally such as system downtime or a power outage.

Assess Risk 

The next step is to assess risk. Risk is the probability that a threat will exploit a vulnerability and subsequently result in a consequence. In essence, it is the likelihood of the various things you have already identified lining up. Combine the likelihood of a risk with the potential damage to determine the most significant risks. This will show you where you need to focus your attention when improving your cyber security. For example, more valuable assets will have a bigger impact on the importance of a risk. If you have high probability risks which involve high-value assets or will result in the biggest consequences these will be your top priority. 

Once you have completed your IT security risk assessment you can use your findings to dictate how you improve your security. Of course, you want to remove all vulnerabilities and threats in order to protect your assets but start with the biggest risks first. The biggest risks are the ones you identified as most likely in the “Assess Risk” section of your IT security risk assessment.

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