risk-assesment-techspertsIT risk assessment sounds so intimidating. The truth is, though, there’s a lot of plain common sense involved in the procedure. Whether you opt to carry out the risk assessment in-house or you decide to hire a pro to do it, you should understand the process. So, here’s what goes on during an IT risk assessment.

What Is IT Risk Assessment?

IT risk assessment is just what it sounds like: an evaluation of the risks that come with using technology, like computers, routers, and mobile devices, while you do business. For most of us, these tools are a fact of life; the assessment isn’t whether we use them, but whether we use them safely.

IT risk assessment is part of a larger overall strategy called IT risk management. It entails—you guessed it—minimizing the inherent risks of using technology for conducting business.

The Four Steps of IT Risk Assessment

The usual risk management and assessment process entails at least four steps. If you’re IT-savvy, you may feel comfortable doing them on your own.

  1. Identifying any vulnerability.
  2. Analyzing any programs in place to reduce these potential problems.
  3. Determining the amount of trouble or loss these problems can cause.
  4. Deciding how to fix these problems—or if they are better left unfixed.

Technically, the fourth step begins the “risk management” process. But are you really going to do the first three and then ignore the information you’ve gained? We doubt it. And we sincerely hope not!

You’re Not Immune

Don’t think that because you’re a small business, you’re immune from computer-related risks. You may delude yourself with the (common) idea of It’s not like I’m some big, rich target for people to hack. That’s not the point of IT risk assessment.

The loss or theft of sensitive information—like credit card and bank account numbers—is only one of the risks involved in using technology. The list of known computer disasters is much longer than the 600 or so words in this post. It includes everything from picking up a disruptive virus to a full-scale system failure. It’s a risk you’re going to have to take if you so much as use a spreadsheet or pound out a document on a word processor.

IT Risk Assessment for Small Businesses

So what does IT risk assessment look like for a small business? Let’s imagine you want to install wireless Internet access for your office and for your customers.

  • What’s the vulnerability? A shared, unsecure network is about as safe as licking the sidewalk. You don’t want your customers to have access to your private data.
  • What are your stay-safe options? The easy route would be to install a wireless router that lets you have two networks: a super-secure private network that doesn’t come up on unauthorized Wi-Fi devices and a guest network that does. Give each network different passwords; make your office-only password especially tough to crack by using a random combination of characters (something like “Yz65+Np22@”—basically un-guessable for humans and very difficult for computer programs). Strictly control access to this password. For extra peace of mind, have a pro set it up and give you a great firewall. Learn how firewalls work here.
  • Is the cost in time and money of this solution worth it? Yes, indeed.
  • All that is left is to decide when to implement, and you’re done.

IT Support Learn More

IT risk assessment doesn’t have to be scary. If you’d like a second opinion, contact TechSperts Services today and we’ll discuss your needs. 

Topics: Business, Best Practices, Featured

Robert McNicholas

Written by Robert McNicholas

Robert McNicholas, is CEO of Techspert Services. Connect with Techsperts on Twitter at @TechspertsJax. Be sure to tweet and share your thoughts below. We’ll read and respond to each of them.