2200 cyber-attacks occur around the world every day. With the volatile nature of the cybersecurity landscape, this figure has the potential to grow dramatically within a short time frame. Therefore, conducting an information technology risk assessment can help organisations prepare for these shocks effectively.

Moreover, around 800,000 cyber-attacks on corporate entities occur every year, putting a huge strain on organisations to enhance their IT security. However, there are several potent challenges that they should address in order to effectively counteract these risks and safeguard their IT infrastructure.

Some of the most common challenges in IT risk management revolve around the failure to convince stakeholders across the organisation about the importance of addressing IT security risks, inadequate resource allocation for IT risk management, and not proactively addressing risks.

An IT risk assessment can help in overcoming these challenges by providing a comprehensive visual overview of the risk landscape while also prioritising risks based on likelihood and impact for effective risk management.

What you can gain from an information technology risk assessment

An effective IT risk assessment can help you understand the risk landscape better, identify vulnerabilities in infrastructure, reduce costs, and ensure regulatory compliance. Here’s how.

  • Understanding the risk landscape
    You can create in-depth risk profiles with the data gathered from assessments, giving you a much better understanding of what you have to contend with.
  • Identifying vulnerabilities
    You can identify previously overlooked vulnerabilities within the IT infrastructure that can cause serious consequences if exploited by malicious actors.
  • Minimising unnecessary costs
    You can minimise a range of unnecessary costs that can occur as a result of not maintaining a continuous watch on potential risks and threat vectors.
  • Ensuring regulatory compliance
    You can ensure that the compliance requirements for your organisation are met, particularly in the fields of data security and IT infrastructure protection.

How to create an information technology risk assessment

An information technology risk assessment not only provides a better understanding of the range of IT risks your organisation may be exposed to but also, with it, you can formulate effective mitigation strategies, easily communicate their importance and progress to stakeholders, and continuously monitor and evaluate the risk landscape and the effectiveness of your mitigation strategies.

This results in a highly resilient risk management strategy that can contend with almost any risk that an organisation like yours may face during its day-to-day operations. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide so you can conduct your own IT risk assessment effectively to gain these benefits.

Identify your IT assets
The first step in an effective IT risk assessment is the identification of IT assets. However, different departments will place different levels of significance on different IT assets. As such, it is important to get the input of all your organisation’s departments at this stage and classify them accordingly.

Identify potential threats
Threats are the adverse events that affect IT systems, affecting operations. When identifying potential threats, remember to consider all possible angles. While hackers will most likely be the one that comes to mind, IT security risks can come in many forms, from social engineering to man-in-the-middle attacks and various cloud security threats, the scope of the threat is vast.

Identify vulnerabilities
Vulnerabilities are the weaknesses in your system that allow it to be exploited. This is yet another area that requires a lot of focus and consideration as vulnerabilities aren’t limited to the IT systems themselves either. While they will most likely make up the higher share of vulnerabilities, issues like understaffing and lack of expertise are also potent vulnerabilities that can be exploited. Make sure to take all these into account when assessing vulnerabilities. 

Analyse internal controls
This step involves analysing and understanding the existing security policies and internal controls that are put into use when an existing vulnerability becomes a threat. Gaining a better understanding of these existing controls will allow you to create more informed, effective controls. However, it is best implemented with the oversight of a professional risk practitioner.

Analyse risk probability and impact
Once the threat landscape, existing vulnerabilities and internal controls are identified, you can begin to classify the identified risks based on likelihood of occurrence and severity of impact. This is a key step of the process as it facilitates the next step of the risk assessment process, risk prioritisation.

Assess and prioritise risks
This is also an extremely important step in the risk assessment process as assessing and prioritising risks is what allows you to address risks on time, allocate resources adequately, and decide whether to avoid, mitigate, or transfer risks.

Implement designed controls
Once the risks are identified and prioritised based on likelihood and severity, you can begin to implement the controls that have been designed to manage said risks. It is important to involve the parties responsible for managing these controls. 

Create a risk assessment report
Risk assessment reports are highly valuable tools to evaluate the extent of risks your business faces, how they may affect it, and how your mitigation strategies can help in minimising these risks. Creating a report that can be escalated to the management makes your role of securing funds and prioritising workflows for risk management much more straightforward.

Enhance your cybersecurity resilience with an information technology risk assessment

As the cybersecurity risk landscape continues to evolve, organisations across the world must take every step necessary to safeguard their IT assets and ensure business continuity. IT risk assessments provide a solid foundation for risk management for any size of organisation operating in any industry, dramatically enhancing their cybersecurity resilience.