What is IT security assessment and why is it important?
Your business relies on information: information about your products and services; about your staff; about your suppliers and clients; about your finances. Some is public knowledge but much is confidential. Keeping your information secure - while you store it, while you use it, and while you communicate it - is a key part of normal business practice. But how secure is it? How well do you understand the effectiveness of the security measures you use? The answers form information security.
The first step in managing information security is to understand the types of information you hold i.e. your information assets, the possible impact or severity of unintended disclosure ('leak') of each type, and how you enforce security i.e. the control measures. This is the crux of the security assessment.
What is the purpose of an IT security assessment?
A security assessment is a process to help you:
- understand the importance of the risks of information leakage,
- generate a list of actions and prioritise them.
Having gathered and understood the findings, you are then able to look at possible ways to fix any shortcomings. Each possible fix will have implications - usually, a cost and time to implement and some impact on future access to the information. The security assessment is a key part of understanding the risks, and the implications of fixing them, to help you decide on actions to take.
How to conduct an IT security risk assessment?
1. What is included in a security assessment
A security assessment can cover any or all information assets for a business. The usual output is
- types of information assets
- the potential damage of a leak - this may be financial, reputational, competitive, etc
- an assessment of the existing control measures and their effectiveness
- an analysis of extra possible measures that might improve security and implications of using them;
- a prioritised list of actions usually based on impact severity and ease of remediation.
2. IT security assessment plan
An assessment plan is a framework to help you effectively complete the actual assessment. Usually the plan outlines the key aspects of information to be gathered, often with guidance for the kinds of functional areas to be considered (bank, stock, client info, etc). The plan then guides you through the various stages of understanding the existing controls and their effectiveness; other possible controls to be considered and their implications; finally you can prioritise the actions as you see fit - usually resolving the most severe risks and the easiest fixes first.
3. Who performs a security risk assessment
There is no rule here. The individuals undertaking the assessment can be a single person or a distributed team. To be properly effective, the individuals involved need to have a good understanding of the kinds of information and processes within the business to be able to effectively assess the impact of a leak.
Types of IT security risk assessments
1. Cyber security risk assessment example
|Info source||Impact of breach||Likelihood of breach||Severity of risk||Control measures||Adjusted severity||Possible action||Impact of action|
2. What is the difference between risk assessment and an IT security audit
An IT security audit is a list of the information types, the security implications and any control measures that are already in place. It is a key part of a risk assessment. The risk assessment builds on the audit to look at other controls that might be needed, what the implications might be, and is used to create a prioritised list of actions to be considered.
I need more help, what do I do next?
Understanding the information in-use by a business and appropriate security provision to keep it secure is an important part of the design of effective IT systems. We partner with businesses to understand their needs, plan and implement appropriate solutions. Our team specialises in the latest security tools to keep you and your business safe.
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