risk assessment

6 things a good network risk assessment should include

Today’s businesses need reliable IT infrastructures that help them improve productivity, communication and collaboration. Unfortunately, it only takes one talented cyber crook to infiltrate your system and wreak havoc. Considering that malware cost the U.S. economy as much as $109 billion in 2016, it makes sense to take a multilayered approach to network security.

A network risk assessment is one of the best ways to keep your network secure. It can identify vulnerabilities and allow you to resolve them before cybercriminals exploit them or unwitting employees expose them. Here are 6 services a good assessment should include.

1. Assess internal network

If you already have malware hiding on your internal network, an in-depth scan will identify the troublesome code and remove that danger from your IT infrastructure.

Scanning your internal network will also reveal any security vulnerabilities that digital criminals could use to infiltrate your system. Security vulnerabilities often occur from software and operating systems that don’t have the latest updates. Patching the vulnerabilities identified by the software makers makes it harder for criminals to attack your network through this additional gap.

2. Assess external networks

You also need someone to assess the security of the external networks your business uses. These networks you don’t control include those that customers use to place orders with your business.

Of course, the internet is the largest external network that your company uses. You can make your external network endpoints more secure by using rigorous antivirus solutions, restricting access to certain websites, and teaching employees how to avoid phishing attempts.

3. Review applications

Having the right apps makes it easy for your company and its employees to reach your shared goals. Unfortunately, using apps to increase collaboration and communication can also increase your security risk – this is the challenge with “shadow IT.”

A risk assessment should review all the apps touching your network, look for vulnerabilities and recommend alternatives to applications that put your network or data at risk.

Besides having a backup and disaster recovery plan, schedule regular risk assessments to keep pace with changing apps. As app developers change their code, they can introduce new vulnerabilities. A frequent risk assessment program will ensure your cybersecurity protection is updated along with the critical apps your company uses to stay competitive. 

4. Recommend folders and apps that need restricted access

Most malware and data breaches happen because employees make mistakes. Make sure you have proper email security in place. Email filtering, for example, can weed out most phishing attempts and malware before they even get to a user’s inbox.

Since it’s possible that someone will find a way into your network, you should restrict access to folders and apps that contain sensitive information.

Your customer service representatives don’t need access to a folder that contains an Excel file of your corporate income and expenses. Why should they have an option to open that folder?

Creating network permissions that grant only the right people access to the apps and folders to do their work makes it harder for cybercriminals to steal your private data. It also helps ensure that employees don’t misuse or expose sensitive data such as customer addresses and account numbers.

5. Review BYOD policy

Most companies like BYOD (bring your own device) policies because they can shift the expense of buying mobile devices to their employees. A BYOD policy can also make it easier for your employees to reach their productivity goals, especially if they work from remote locations.

Unfortunately, mixing personal and professional content on a device opens a door to data theft and malware.

A good risk assessment will study your BYOD policy to make sure you have the right protections in place. For instance, you might need perimeter security that only allows employees to access certain apps and files while on-site. Once they leave the office, they lose some or all access to sensitive information except through a secure connection.

6. Assess your employees

No one presents a bigger threat to your network than your employees. Whether intentional or accidental, protecting your business from insider threats is not something to take lightly. A good risk assessment does more than study your technology. It also evaluates your employees to make sure they understand the roles they play in protecting the company’s IT.

With this kind of insight, you can take action to better educate your team and improve the creation, communication and enforcement of your security policies to protect your data from all sides.

In conclusion

A good risk assessment helps ensure that your IT infrastructure has the right defenses against  exposure, malware and other attacks. Make sure you choose a professional you trust to follow these steps to keep your company more secure.