Digital risk assessment guide for businesses

Discover how to spot and fix network security issues before they affect your business.

Navigating the digital landscape can be daunting for businesses, especially with the ever-present threat of cyber-attacks. However, as we operate in an increasingly digital-only business landscape, we need to ensure that the assets we own online are protected. An essential step in ensuring this security is carrying out a digital risk assessment.

In this guide, we'll delve into network security events, learn how to spot potential issues, and understand how to mitigate them. If you're curious about why cyber security is crucial for your business, our previous article Why You Need To Take Cyber Security Seriously is a great place to start.

What is a digital risk assessment?

Think of a Digital Risk Assessment (DRA) as a comprehensive health check-up for your digital business landscape. It helps you identify and assess potential threats ranging from data breaches, system malfunctions to cyber-attacks.

What is an example of a digital risk?

A common example of a digital risk is a cyber security event like a phishing attack, where cybercriminals often pose as a reputable organisation, typically via email. This can lure the recipient into clicking a link or downloading a file, which can result in harmful software invading your systems or vital data being stolen.

Why is digital risk important?

Almost every business operation has some level of online exposure, from storing customer data (like names, emails and phone numbers) to processing transactions (credit card information). Our increased dependence on digital tools means that we're more vulnerable to digital risks. Ignoring these risks could lead to significant financial losses, reputation damage, or legal issues.

What is network security?

Network security is a set of measures taken to protect a computer network from different types of cyber security events, such as firewalls, anti-virus software, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and virtual private networks (VPNs).

What is a network security event?

A network security event is an incident that has the potential to threaten the integrity or security of your network specifically. It could range from minor occurrences like an employee forgetting their password to major ones such as a data breach or a Denial of Service (DoS) attack, which is an attack that could potentially shut down your entire operation system. Even though not all network security events escalate into significant security incidents, each one represents a potential threat that warrants monitoring.

How to spot network security issues

Being alert and knowledgeable is your best defence in the cyber security world. Understanding common security threats is a critical part of effective digital risk management. Let's explore some key threats:

  • Encryption Issues: Secure encryption is a shield against data breaches. Regular system checks are crucial to ensure encryption protocols are functioning optimally.

  • Malware: Malicious software that can infiltrate your systems, leading to data theft or damage. Combat this by getting reliable anti-malware software and regularly updating it.

  • Viruses: Hidden in harmless files, viruses can disrupt your network. A reliable, regularly updated antivirus software is your best defence.

  • Phishing Attacks: Cybercriminals can deceive users into revealing sensitive information. Regular training can help your team spot and avoid phishing attempts.

How to protect your organisation's IT infrastructure

Safeguarding your IT infrastructure involves a systematic approach that begins with a comprehensive digital risk assessment. Let's break down the steps to create an effective risk mitigation strategy:

  • Identify Assets: Catalogue all your IT infrastructure components, including hardware, software, and data.

  • Risk Identification: Identify all potential risks for each asset, covering everything from physical threats to cyber security events.

  • Impact Analysis: Determine the potential fallout of each risk on your business operations. For example, a server failure could disrupt your services, causing customer dissatisfaction and revenue loss.

  • Risk Prioritisation: Rank the risks based on their potential impact and likelihood of occurrence. A high-impact, high-probability risk needs immediate attention, while a low-impact, low-probability one could be lower on the priority list.

  • Risk Mitigation Strategy: Develop strategies for each risk, from avoidance and reduction to acceptance. For instance, regular data backups could mitigate the risk of data loss due to system failures.

  • Cyber Security Reporting: Record and communicate cyber-related incidents, weaknesses and responses within your organisation. This can help to understand the impact of cyber threats, as well as the effectiveness of your company’s defences and responses.

  • Review and Update: As your business and the digital landscape evolve, so should your risk assessment. Regular reviews and updates are necessary to stay ahead of emerging threats.

Recognising network security events and implementing digital risk assessments significantly bolsters your business's cyber security. Early detection and mitigation of network security issues can help prevent potential harm and safeguard your valuable digital assets. It's crucial to remember that effective digital risk management is a continuous process, not a one-time task.

Browse through our other blog posts on the V-Hub platform for more insights on network security. If you need advice on enhancing your digital risk management strategy, get 1-2-1 support by speaking to one of our V-Hub Digital Advisers.

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