How can an IT risk assesment help secure your network?

What can an IT risk assessment teach you about your business’ security?

23 February 2017

An IT risk assessment can be very perceptive, offering levels of sensitive insight about your security that your team could have overlooked.

As the world grows increasingly more digital, businesses should never stop looking at better ways to improve the protection of their network. The key to identifying any areas of weakness in your security platform should start with an IT risk assessment. Have you ever wondered what this might determine about your business?

What is the aim of an IT risk assessment?

Whilst some businesses might hesitate to put their security tools to the test, it’s important to remember that an assessment of your IT security isn’t designed to catch you out. Its main purpose is simply to highlight potential security weaknesses in your network in order to identify whether further action is required by your team. If carried out correctly, your business will benefit from detailed data and reports on your network’s security, making it far easier to spot vulnerabilities and mitigate any risks that are exposed. This means you’ll have the choice to allocate new resources, cancel a failing project or even accept identified risks if the costs of solving them outway the danger of not doing anything.

What can an IT risk assessment identify?

Whilst we know diligent testing can help you spot areas of weakness or vulnerability in your network security infrastructure, carrying out an IT security assessment could also expose the following:

1. Any risks of exposure and possible attack vectors

Whether it’s a disguised phishing email, a social engineering scam or an attempt at breaking through firewall rules, hackers are exploring all paths and avenues in an attempt to access your network. A cyber security assessment will help you expose exactly where these paths lead to in your network, and identify how it could be compromised from both internal and external sources of attack.

2. Whether your security has already been compromised

Think you’d know straight away if your network security was breached? Think again! Zero-day attacks can frequently avoid detection, while attacks can bypass security systems completely by utilising methods such as email phishing. With cyber criminals becoming more sophisticated and varied in their approach, it’s becoming more and more difficult for even the most advanced security solutions to identify all attacks as they happen. Some breaches can be highly subtle and could happen right under your nose without you or your systems ever being aware. An IT risk assessment will check over your network and identify any areas where your security may have already been compromised.

3. The true strength of your network architecture, allowing for smart investments

An IT security lifecycle review will assess and re-assess how your network is defended at its perimeter, and how well it is segmented internally to limit the damage that can be caused by prying eyes or fraudulent applications. An IT risk assessment allows you to put your system to the test and in turn helps you make smart security investments by prioritising and focusing on the high-importance, high-payoff items.

4. How your employees are using your network

An IT risk assessment can help you ensure that your staff are being #ClickClever by taking a detailed look into user endpoint activity while identifying any additional security threats throughout your company. This will also help you aide your employees to become more security aware as well as demonstrate to your customers that security is important to you and your staff. Vigilant employees aware of the dangers of cybercrime will natively emphasise to partners that your business cares about protecting them and their data.

5. Learn if your data security truly meets compliance and data governance best practice

An IT security review will also help you to identify if your business meets the processes, policies, and standards for protecting data throughout its lifecycle.

By May 2018 2017, businesses and individuals must comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This legislation dictates that greater liability lies on businesses to ensure their data is securely protected. Businesses must have documented policies and controls in place in order to prove that data policy is of utmost importance to the organisation. This is significant because if a breach was to happen, the business retains liability to any individuals affected by the breach. If that wasn’t incentive enough, failure to comply can also result in costly financial penalties.

There are of course many things businesses should already be doing to prepare for these changes to data law, with perhaps the most important at this stage being aware of what is required of businesses. Implementing an IT risk assessment now can help prepare for the GDPR directive by identifying where the business is falling short of compliance policies.

Want to learn more about the GDPR? Download the Prodec Networks GDPR Survival Guide here.

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In summary, recognising network security weaknesses allows businesses to identify any necessary security controls required for a network to be truly secure. An IT risk assessment can make it far easier to stay ahead of cyber attacks, and will allow you to implement the right levels of protection that’s tailored to your business.


Find out today with a free Palo Alto Networks Security Lifecycle Review (SLR)

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