6 Reasons Why Your Small Business Needs an IT Risk Assessment

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Have you conducted a risk assessment of your business network? If not, you’re not alone. Many small businesses often overlook this critical step. But they do so at their own peril.

A security risk assessment provides the framework for keeping your company at a desired security level by assessing the risks you face, deciding how you will mitigate them, and planning for how to keep your security practices up-to-date.

Given that most small businesses cannot operate without technology, an IT risk assessment is critical. Case in point: In a survey by the National Cyber Security Alliance and Symantec, 71 percent of small businesses said they were somewhat or very dependent on the Internet for day-to-day operations.

Here are 5 reasons why you should conduct an IT risk assessment for your small business:

Data Protection

If you retain confidential information from clients or customers, you’re often contractually obliged to protect that data as if it were your own. If you fail to protect it, you could face a loss of goodwill, and even legal consequences. There are multiple ways that data can be lost or compromised including:

  • Physical loss. You may lose access to your data for reasons ranging from floods to electricity outages or second disk failure.
  • Unauthorized access. Do you allow multiple employees in your company to access personal data? If so, that’s a huge risk. You may want to rethink access privileges.
  • Your data in someone else’s hands. Do you share your data with third parties, including contractors, partners, or your sales channel? If so, how are you protecting your data while it is in their hands?
  • Interception of data in transit. Risks include data transmitted between company sites, or between the company and employees, partners, and contractors at home or other locations.
  • Data corruption. Intentional corruption, such as viruses or worms, could modify data in a way that benefits hackers. Also, unintentional corruption might be due to a software error that overwrites valid data.

Cloud Computing Platforms

While cloud computing offers significant advantages for small businesses, it is important to understand that you are giving your data to a third-party. If a cloud vendor’s security is breached, there is a potential that your data will also be breached or a back door to your systems could be opened.

Cyber Threats

This most commonly includes malware, viruses, and Trojan horses that seek to harm or gain access to data that is stored on web servers, behind firewalls, encrypted, and transmitted via mobile networks. There are two kinds of cyber threats:

  • Insider Threats. While most employees behave with integrity, there is always the chance that is employee could significantly impact IT security if they become careless or disgruntled.
  • External Threats. These include computer equipment thieves, contractors, hackers, former employees, and organized crime.

Physical Mobile Assets

With widespread adoption of laptops, smartphones, and tablets, a data breach can occur if one of these devices is stolen or lost. Small businesses should explore ways to protect any sensitive company data housed on physical devices.

Regulatory Requirements

It’s critical that small businesses understand all of the privacy and security laws related to the data they store. These include state breach notification laws, FTC Red Flags Rule, and the HIPAA-HITECH data breach requirements.

Additionally, small businesses should pay close attention to Payment Card Industry (PCI) regulations associated to credit card transactions, especially as more small businesses use mobile devices to swipe credit cards. Failure to comply with these regulations could have a significant financial impact on your business.

Today it’s vital that every small business conduct an IT risk assessment to ensure that its security is keeping its businesses network and data safe, preventing cyber threats, and meeting regulatory guidelines. Ensuring your businesses is meeting these security essentials will help prevent your business from being impacted by today’s most common security risks.

The IT pros at Gulf South Technology Solutions can help you execute a comprehensive IT risk assessment that will help keep your network safe.