Everything you need to know about IT vulnerability and risk assessments

Everything you need to know about IT vulnerability and risk assessments

Online data is invaluable to businesses. The more confidential data is, the greater its worth to daily business operations. Unfortunately, such information is also extremely valuable for cybercriminals who want to sell it on the dark web or use it to defraud other people. What’s worse is that hackers have various means to steal confidential data. They can exploit network vulnerabilities and outdated devices and software, or trick people into divulging classified information using online scams.

The best way to secure your data is to implement a robust security strategy, but this can be tough without first understanding your company’s weaknesses. IT vulnerability and risk assessments are therefore crucial to building a powerful security framework.

Below, we outline the process of IT vulnerability and risk assessments, and why they’re crucial to any business, regardless of size.

What are IT vulnerability and risk assessments?

IT risk assessments look at the potential negative impacts that may occur if company systems are not appropriately secured. They aim to identify, analyze, and evaluate the severity and likelihood of IT risks so businesses can formulate an appropriate prevention strategy. Common IT risks include human error, hardware or software failure, malware attacks, and natural disasters.

Once risks are identified and assessed, they are often evaluated and ranked within three levels: low, medium, and high risk. For example, slow-loading applications that result in 10 minutes of downtime would be considered low risk. Meanwhile, malware corrupting company-owned devices are classified as high risk and will therefore need to be addressed first. Regular risk assessments are important to monitor any immediate problems with your IT, but you should also consider performing a more comprehensive assessment every year to ensure your IT infrastructure is running smoothly.

Vulnerability assessments, on the other hand, are used to identify weaknesses in one’s IT system. These could include untrained employees, outdated security programs, and controls or gaps that may be easily exploited by hackers.

These assessments are typically comprised of four steps:

  • Initial assessment – in which a business’s assets are identified, determining the risk and critical value of each
  • System baseline definition – in which general information is gathered on the organization, including its structure, current hardware or software, and any configurations made
  • Vulnerability scan – in which weaknesses are identified through appropriate tools and security methods
  • Assessment reporting – in which findings are reported with recommended mitigation procedures

Vulnerability scans are recommended at least once per quarter, or even on a monthly or weekly basis, if necessary.

Why your company needs IT vulnerability and risk assessments

Prevent potential attacks

With cybercrime numbers creeping by the year, preventative security measures are more vital than ever. Statistics predict online crime to cost $6 trillion by 2021, with hackers growing ever more sophisticated in their methods. Among these, phishing attacks and malware continue to be the most popular forms of cybercrime.

Vulnerability and risk assessments can combat these attacks and keep you several steps ahead of constantly evolving hackers and cyberthreats. Regular risk and vulnerability scans ensure your system is free from potential defects or weaknesses, maintaining watertight, impenetrable security. They even inform you of any blindspots among your employees like poor password habits and inability to recognize phishing scams, so you can develop a personalized security awareness training program.

Ultimately, these assessments pinpoint areas that need updating or replacing, and help determine ways to improve your current mitigation procedures.

Maintain customer trust and loyalty

High levels of cybersecurity add to your reputation as a company. Customers need to trust you in handling and protecting their private data. Such assurance is now mandatory for acquiring and retaining their business, as many clients are likely to jump ship the moment their data is compromised. Conducting regular vulnerability assessments therefore grants your business a competitive edge over other organizations who are not so proactive about their cybersecurity practices.

What’s more, IT assessments are also mandatory for any business that manages sensitive personally identifiable information. This especially applies to industries like healthcare, finance, and professional services that are governed by strict data compliance regulations like HIPAA, PCI DSS, and SOX. If your business fails to comply with these regulations, you can face hefty penalties and even heftier customer backlash.

Assess third-party security vendors better

Finally, regular assessments not only benefit your on-site networks, but the services of third-party security vendors, as well.

These procedures can identify any security gaps or weaknesses on their end — risks that could easily contribute to your company’s network issues. Findings can then be communicated to these service providers, urging them to update their security, or help you decide in switching vendors altogether.

Technology assessments are vital to maintaining data security. To ensure total protection of your network systems, our experts at Founders Technology Group offer these services complete with compliance testing, analysis of security products and business operations, and mitigation strategies. Contact us today to find out more.