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Four reasons to perform a cyber risk and vulnerability assessment

Monday, 17 April, 2023

Nearly three months into 2023, and organizations are diving into everything from tax season to long-term business planning. But there are compelling reasons to add a cyber risk and vulnerability assessment to the list, too.

Everyone is digitized on some level, and every device and software used has a corresponding security risk. Here, we outline four of the leading reasons why it’s important not to overlook your business’s cybersecurity posture.


Cybersecurity risks continue to rise

Researchers at insurance giant Allianz have already named cyber breaches and other incidents the biggest business risks posed this year. And because of continued economic volatility this year, a recent Bipartisan Policy Center report observed that normal cyber threats are being exacerbated. Although cybercriminals’ desperation may play a role, some of these incidents occur because when faced with difficult financial choices, many businesses of all sizes will choose to downsize their cybersecurity protections. This can prove to be a costly mistake.

Last year, IBM estimated that the average cyber breach cost businesses more than $4 million. Compounding the crippling financial impact of an attack is the reputational or even legal damage a business can sustain when confidential or otherwise sensitive information falls into the wrong hands.


Long-term costs of doing business are reduced

Considering the expenses involved in ransomware incidents and the potential for reputational damage, your business can potentially avert millions of dollars in liabilities and accrue sizable savings in business costs by enhancing cybersecurity on the front end.

This process does not need to be expensive or involve a total overhaul, unless a business is saddled with an extremely outdated legacy system (that likely needs to be amended anyway). Rather, a risk and vulnerability assessment can pave the way for careful, deliberative, targeted changes and investments to high susceptibility areas, which matches the risk with the company’s investment to better improve the organization’s cybersecurity posture.

There is a real imperative to honing in on managing and protecting systems that house mission-critical data. Many small and medium-sized businesses include medical, dental, and legal offices with industry-specific privacy concerns that can compound risk and breach notification-related expenses.


Cyber audits typically unearth other business vulnerabilities

It often surprises business owners and executives to learn that an assessment can tell an even broader story about the way they do business from a technology standpoint, not just their risk levels for attacks and breaches. This includes areas such as how effectively data is protected and stored, how efficient the IT systems are for retrieving and deploying information, and whether data is siloed, slowing things down, or is compiled in such a way that it can be used predictively.


Team members are more empowered

The ultimate goal of a cybersecurity assessment is a lot like the story of “teach a man to fish.” Team members may not become cybersecurity experts themselves, but they will be able to see themselves as part of the solution for a safer cyber environment, including properly identifying and promptly reporting potential risks or taking precautions to minimize risks.

Increased internal awareness is your chief business goal. Indeed, cyber security is not the sole job of the IT department or personnel, and if it’s left that way, companies will inevitably have to grapple with more problems in the event the unexpected happens.

Protection is easier, and less expensive than you might think, when businesses assume a preventative approach that pinpoints weaknesses or holes – or even examines lessons that can be learned from previous breaches. Even if you haven’t had a cybersecurity “close call” before, it is especially urgent to bring a skilled consultant in the door.

Mike Skinner is the principal consultant of Skinner Technology Group.

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