In 2018, 4iQ reported that cybercriminals were preying on small businesses more than ever. The 2020 Verizon Breach Report confirmed that cyberattacks on small companies compromised credentials, personal or medical information, or internal details a combined 96% of the time

Risk is an inherent component of operating a business. Still, not all risk is created equal—and the hidden costs of your next data breach could be enough to bring your organization crashing to the ground. A first step to protecting your business against these and other security threats is to perform regular risk assessments.

Risk assessment

A risk assessment is an in-depth evaluation of your information technology environment intended to classify risks based on their potential business impact and likelihood to occur. 

Benefits to your business

The benefits of risk assessments are numerous, but some of the most important factors are that these evaluations allow you to proactively:

  • Expose and repair weaknesses in your security infrastructure.
  • Improve security posture by instituting plans to mitigate and/or manage risk. 
  • Be deliberate in creating controls and protocols to protect sensitive information and business resources.

Performing an assessment

There are several steps in the risk assessment process, but three of the most prominent are:

  • Data collection involves analyzing hardware and software, inventorying all business assets, processes, existing procedures/protocols and other relevant details of the day-to-day functions and operations of the organization. Information discovered during data collection drives the rest of the assessment process.
  • Risk analysis is where the data above is quantified. Risks are assigned a rating calculated as a function of the potential harm they would cause to your business and the probability that the risk could occur. Scores from this analysis help determine appropriate actions in the next step.
  • A mitigation plan details the actionable steps your business should take in response to the risks highlighted in the analysis phase. There are four types of mitigation, and the application of each will depend on your organization’s relative appetite for risk. 

It’s important to note that risk assessments are not a one-and-done endeavor. For risk assessments to be effective, mitigation plans must be implemented, and processes should be reviewed and maintained over time. If acted upon, risk assessments are a valuable tool to prepare your business to overcome threats in a rapidly changing technology space.

Has your small business ever performed a risk assessment? Comment below to let us know how it impacted operations. 

If you’ve never had a risk assessment or think it’s time for a refresher, contact us today so we can help you stay ahead of the threat.