Most people can easily identify with the need to protect your business premises or vehicles from peril, because being without either would put your company’s well-being at a significant risk.
But, what about your IT infrastructure?
A business is often just as, if not more, dependent upon their technology than they are almost anything else.
From cloud-based solutions that run their offices from anywhere to the wireless network that keeps everyone connected, for most businesses, their sales and output would come to a stop without their technology.
Costs to organisations of all sizes are significant for IT downtime, data loss, or a data breach. According to a survey of 1000 Australian IT professionals the average downtime costs are between about $2,000 and $144,000 per hour, depending upon company size. And the average time to repair a downtime incident is between 5-6 hours.
Downtime costs come from a variety of factors, including:
- Emergent diagnosis and repair costs
- Loss of business while down
- Loss of worker productivity
- Notifications or fines related to data breaches
- Recovery costs for incidents of data loss
- Ongoing costs of lost customer trust and reputation rebuilding
Because the health of your business is dependent upon your technology performing efficiently, taking time to properly manage your IT risk is critical. Read on for tips on how to do that.
Steps to IT Risk Management
To mitigate the risks that accompany any problems with your IT infrastructure, you need to go through a few key steps that will help you come up with a strategy that will protect your business from serious damage should an IT incident occur.
Here’s what you need to do.
1. Identify IT Infrastructure Risks
Your first step to coming up with a strategy is to identify what could possibly go wrong. This should be a list where you explore all possibilities of “What if.” Such as, “What if an employee lost their laptop with sensitive business information on it?” or “What if our power went out at the office for over 24 hours due to a storm?”
Mapping out all the things that could possibly put your technology at risk, will allow you to then identify ways to mitigate the risk of something happening and come up with plan that will get you back up and running quickly.
Some of the “What ifs” might be:
- Breach of your network and customer data
- Virus or malware infection
- Accidental or malicious deletion of company files
- Lost or stolen devices
- Hardware failures
- Security breaches due to unapplied operating system or software patches
- Downtime of a major cloud service (like Office 365 or Slack)
- Your internet service provider goes down due to a natural disaster
2. Analyse All Risks
Now that you’ve written down what could possibly go wrong with your technology you want to take some time to analyse each of the risks. Each risk will have different consequences and mitigation factors.
For example, a way to deal with a hardware failure would be to sign on to a proactive managed services plan, which could predict ahead of time when you need a part replaced to eliminate the risk of it causing downtime. But for something like a natural disaster, while you can plan for it, it’s much more difficult to predict ahead of time and you can’t really stop it from happening.
3. Rank Your Risk Factors According to Severity
You’re going to want to address the most severe risk first in any IT risk mitigation plan, so in order to do that strategically, you need to rank each risk according to how it could impact your business and how likely it is to occur.
Phishing remains the number one cause of data breaches, and we already know that data breaches and their resulting downtime can be costly to businesses, so protection from phishing attacks would most likely have a high ranking on your risk list. While something like an employee lost device, might be lower if you already have a mobile management tool in place.
4. Create Your Risk Response Plans
This where ranking is going to help you most, because it will give you a strategy to follow when creating an IT Risk Response Plan for each risk factor. You’ll start with the highest ranked risks first and then work your way down.
Your response plans should be as detailed as possible and should include things such as:
- What you can do to reduce the risk factor
- Steps your employees should take if the event occurs
- Detailed contact and responsibility plans, so everyone knows who is doing what
- Desired timeline for getting your IT back online
- Reporting requirements for identifying steps taken during the outage
5. Continually Monitor for Risk and Review your Response Plan
After you’ve completed your Risk Response Plan, you want to begin implementing the mitigation activities that you identified. This may be signing up for a managed IT security plan to reduce your chance of a network breach or putting employee training in place to help identify phishing emails.
Constant monitoring of your IT infrastructure is critical as well as training and drills for your employees. You can have a response plan in a binder, but if the first time anyone goes through the steps for a particular event is in the middle of an emergency, there’s a good chance your plan isn’t going to be implemented smoothly.
The last thing you want to do is to update your plan after an event has been handled. What was missing from the response steps? What could be done more efficiently? Adding this type of information will help you keep your plan as a “living document” that’s always up to date.
Let NetCare Help You Keep Your Technology Running Smoothly
You don’t want to be one of those companies that finds out too late that they should’ve put an IT risk mitigation plan together. NetCare can help you with a full evaluation of your IT infrastructure and suggestions to safeguard your business continuity.
Call us to discuss a solid IT strategy today at (02) 9114 9920 or reach out online.