The Importance of IT Risk Assessment

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Information technology – it is undeniably the way of the future.  Technology is a huge part of our lives, and that means we need to have systems in place to protect ourselves from some of the risks associated with it.  That is why the field of IT exists – both to keep us secure and to help people understand how to operate their programs and equipment.

What strategies can we employ to mitigate our risks, though?  It’s a rather complex question to approach because of the ever-changing nature of this field.  However, there are certain steps that we can take, which I’ll be discussing today.

What is Information Technology?

There are a lot of definitions of IT out there, but I’ll condense it into something a bit easier to understand.  It is any utilization of electronic devices, including but not limited to computers, laptops, smart phones, and tablets.  This includes any storage for them and within them and the networking required to create a system within a company.

While technically this could apply to personal use, generally speaking it is used more commonly in the business world.  People who work in this field are in charge of a few things in a company.  The first thing is the deployment of servers.

If you’re not familiar, servers are a form of virtual storage and can host large databases depending on their size.  They require programming and maintenance as well, meaning that IT specialists must stay vigilant.  Usually, they help with troubleshooting any issues that arise and they also oversee preventing security breaches.

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In terms of administration, in this field it means monitoring the virtual systems in a given company.  Many businesses have special networks and logins, so having people to oversee them is critical.  Usually they are secure servers, and ideally there is data encryption at play.

Another important task in the IT field is support.  This might be customer support, but more often than not, it is employee support.  Technology is finnicky, there’s no doubting that.  So, being able to assist with any issues that happen and answering questions that arise is a good quality.

It is in this support role that risk management comes into play.  How so?  Well, there is assessment for IT risk, as I’ll explain in the next section.  On a final note, here, many information technology departments handle the upkeep of any applications and encourage and enforce compliance rules within a business.

Risk Management and IT

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Phishing schemes are insidious and pervasive.  This is especially true when it comes to emails.  Even email addresses issued by companies are often bombarded with spam messages.  Unfortunately, if someone clicks on the wrong one, it can cause a serious security issue.  However, while this is one of the first forms of risk that many of us think of, it isn’t the only type.

If software or hardware fails, for example, this is a big problem.  Making sure to repair any broken equipment is imperative.  You should plan for any potential power outages as well, just in case.

Of course, there is also malware and viruses, which you can learn more about on this page: https://www.business.qld.gov.au/running-business/protecting-business/risk-management/it-risk-management/defined.  Usually, they are designed to interfere with the normal processes of a computer.  Sometimes they even harvest data, including passwords and bank account information.

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This is bad for any business, but especially ones with large amounts of customer data.  Protecting this information should be a huge priority.  Think about all the scandals in the past decade relating to information leaks because of carelessness.  You don’t want that to happen to you.

Many of the threats are criminal in nature, like hackers.  In an assessment of your IT systems, you can determine how much your company is at risk of an attack like this, and how easy or difficult it would be to crack into your system.  That’s part of why you should consider one.

These assessments usually use a four-pronged approach to analyzing your network and servers.  They should be able to determine what any potential threats are.  Many of them will fall into the above categories, but unfortunately there are a lot more out there to worry about as well.  

Next, it can locate any potential vulnerabilities that you have.  These all provide opportunities for criminals to invade or for mistakes to be made that lead to disaster.  Ideally, all computers in your network have some sort of anti-virus, but that isn’t always the case.  That’s why something like this is a good idea.

After that, you might be able to identify what the potential impact of having one of these risks grow into an actual issue might have on your business.  It’s not a definitive thing, of course – sometimes we simply cannot predict the future.  However, you can start to put prevention policies in place!

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