Risk management has been an area of business focus for decades. Businesses have long recognized that they need to look at the financial risks they might face if something happened to their physical assets. However, in the past few decades, there has been a stronger and broader focus on risks that confront a business.
Unfortunately, while large businesses devote resources at the highest level to managing risk to protect their organization, smaller firms often spend little or no time considering risk as an important business issue. That means technology infrastructure may be ignored if, and when, business continuity and disaster recovery plans are considered.
This blog will discuss the role of a managed service provider in helping your business address risks to the technology used to operate your business. A managed service provider can identify all of the potential risks that your IT infrastructure may be vulnerable to, and advise you how to avoid and mitigate risk to this critical part of your operations.
What Is Risk Management?
Risk is the negative uncertainty that comes from potential loss. Risk management is the collection of activities a business undertakes to mitigate, avoid, and transfer the losses that might damage the business due to some negative event.
Why is risk management gaining greater visibility? The last few decades have seen the United States face two major catastrophic events: Hurricane Katrina in 2006 and the terror attacks in 2001. Both brought to the fore the consequences to businesses who are unprepared, as well as the reality that very bad things can happen. Globalization has also shown that distance does not shield us from the consequences of far away events. The pandemic reminded businesses about the consequences of their reliance on long supply chains.
Another new threat that alerted even smaller firms to their vulnerability is technological. The evolution of cyber threats, ransomware, hacking, and data theft has really hit home for every organization out there. Even small firms are taking notice of this threat.
So why are we addressing risk management? Because every firm needs to make plans to prepare if something bad happens. It could be a fire, flood, hurricane, power outage, but any of these events could affect your IT infrastructure. And many smaller firms fail to recognize how reliant they are on their IT infrastructure.
Here are a few areas you should look at when it comes to IT Risk Management.
Data Storage and Cloud Backups
If your data is stored and backed up on-site, you may be exposing your business and customer data to an unnecessary vulnerability. On-site data storage and backups expose your business to serious risk.
If you are storing data on-site, this means you maintain full responsibility for securing that data against theft, cyber attacks, and ransomware. This requires diligence and skill on the part of your IT staff. Data breaches represent a serious liability. You lose the trust of your customers if their data is compromised and you may be liable to penalties for a data breach. Data breaches also represent a bad mark on your brand.
On-site storage and backups mean that if some disaster happens on-site, your data may be permanently lost, or at least temporarily inaccessible. Neither of these are good options.
Onsite backups represent a responsibility for handling backups on a routine basis. Outsourcing that responsibility to a cloud provider eliminates the risk of a failed inhouse backup. Moving data storage and backups to the cloud means that no matter what happens to your physical location, your data is safe and immediately accessible from anywhere.
Software as a Service (SAAS)
How does this help manage risk in case something happens? You may be used to buying a software program and downloading it to a PC. However, there is a hitch in this software purchasing model. Those software programs are living in a particular piece of hardware. If that hardware is lost or stolen, inaccessible due to geographical events, or just plain wears out, accessibility to the data contained may be compromised. Short story, your software access is tied to a piece of machinery. Saas ends that. You buy online access, so it doesn’t matter where you are or what happens to your laptop, desktop, building or office, you can still login and get back to work.
You may have the standard PBX system that handles switching calls that are directed within your physical organization but that is all it usually permits. VoIP systems allow aggressive approaches to call forwarding, including time windows. This makes it easier to maintain voice connections even if access to a physical site has been blocked. VoIP also offers many innovative features such as voice-to-text and voice-to-email that can increase productivity.
Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) and Surge Protection
Risk management means looking at one of the key risks any business faces: power interruption. What would you do if a long term power event occurred? There are uninterruptible power supply systems using battery support, natural gas and other fuels which can provide support for as long as is needed.
Antivirus Software and Network Protection
One of the risks you face these days is one that is most likely to damage your brand. That risk is a data breach. If you experience some form of data breach where your clients perceive their data has been compromised, your brand is damaged. More importantly, you are likely liable for the financial consequences of a data breach. Make sure that your systems are protected by the latest antivirus software and you are consistently updating it. New viruses appear every day, so outdated antivirus software is less likely to protect you.
Employee Training and IT Risk Management
One of the tools of risk management is risk avoidance. Training employees about their responsibility for data security is critical. One of the primary ways hackers and thieves gain access to data is through employee error. Every employee should be trained on proper password behavior. Simple guidelines about changing passwords frequently and never sharing passwords are important first steps. Employees need to be trained to identify fake websites and phishing scams. Opening emails with bad attachments and links is a principal source for entry into company accounts and databases. A managed service provider can provide tips and guidance on training your employees about data security.
Small businesses need to be aware of the risks out there and make plans, so they are prepared when disaster strikes. It’s especially important for smaller businesses to be aware of this, because they are least likely to recover financially after a catastrophic event hits their business.
As a managed service provider, Universal Data can help you develop a risk management plan for your IT infrastructure. Contact us to schedule a meeting.