Risk assessment a game changer

Prepare your business before a cyber event upsets your daily operations
Craig Taylor

Conducting a risk assessment is not like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube blindfolded or cooking a five-course dinner during a power outage. It’s a doable task, a bit like spring cleaning. You might not look forward to it, but once it’s done, you feel accomplished and prepared.

Performing a risk assessment might not be as sparkly as pitching a product to investors or developing a groundbreaking marketing campaign, but it’s every bit as important to your business’s success. So, why not roll up those metaphorical sleeves and dive in?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a crystal ball that could tell you the challenges your business might face in the future? Well, a risk assessment is your next best thing. It’s a bit less magical, perhaps, but it’s definitely more reliable. It’s also the best way to learn where you need to spend your finite time and money remediating the risks your company faces.

Risk assessments allow us to predict and prepare for possible roadblocks, hiccups or problems that might threaten our operations. Think along the lines of supply chain disruptions, regulatory changes or cybersecurity threats from hackers.

The beauty of a risk assessment is that it prepares you to weather the storm, making sure your business is not just a castle built on sand but a fortress capable of standing strong against the tides.

Taking the time to perform a risk assessment is important for many reasons, including:

Knowledge is power: A risk assessment allows you to uncover potential threats. It’s a bit like turning on the light in a dark room – suddenly, you can see everything clearly and avoid stubbing your toe on that pesky coffee table.

Damage control: When a risk materializes, you’re already prepared with a plan to mitigate its impact. You’ve got the metaphorical band-aids ready before the cut even happens.

Financial prudence: Risk assessments can save you money in the long run by preventing losses. It’s like an insurance policy that pays dividends.

Reputation management: Consistent, efficient handling of issues is great for your company’s reputation. Your business will be the reliable old friend your customers can count on.

Competitive edge: While your competition is busy putting out fires, you’ll be calmly navigating through challenges with your prepared solutions.

Now that we have the risk assessment done, what’s next? Enter the risk management framework. This process involves identifying, evaluating, remediating and monitoring risks.

Here’s how to build your risk management framework, step by step:

Identifying risks: Get your detective hat on and list out all potential risks. Gather your team and look at your Technical protections, Administrative processes and even Physical threats to your business. TAP is your decoder ring.

Evaluating risks: Rank your risks based (on a five-point scale) on their likelihood and potential impact. You may also want to take business goals and client expectations in account when evaluating and rank ordering your risks. Just keep it simple. Likelihood x Impact x Materiality to your business is enough math for most companies to rank order.

Developing remediation strategies:

Create a plan to mitigate each risk. This is where you brainstorm solutions. You’re allowed to get creative! Since you can’t do everything all at once, don’t be afraid to schedule lower risks into the future. Likewise, if budgets don’t align with the critical risks you face, more funding may be needed to remedy things.

Implementing strategies: Now that you have your plan, it’s time to put it into action.

Monitoring and reviewing: Keep an eye on things and review your strategies regularly. Measuring progress quarterly helps keep things on track; but at the very least, perform an annual review and update. After all, change is the only constant.

Creating a risk assessment and risk management framework isn’t rocket science.

It’s about being proactive and prepared, and it’s something every business owner can do.

In essence, a risk assessment is like a trusty life jacket for your business, providing protection and ensuring that you stay afloat, no matter how rough the seas get. If you forgot your life jacket at home, call a vCISO (virtual chief information security officer) to throw you the flotation device and help pull you back to safety.

Craig Taylor is co-founder of Cyberhoot, a cybersecurity-defense services provider with an office in Portsmouth.

Categories: Tech Advice