Is a network risk assessment really necessary?

Without a doubt, 2020 has been an unprecedented year. With pandemics, lock-downs, a planned recession and enormous amount of uncertainty, many things have changed but cyber threats remain the same.

network risk assessmentHackers and cyber criminals have not abandoned their nefarious ways in light of the pandemic. If anything, threats to network security have only ramped up, especially for those at high risk.

To alleviate some of this uncertainty, one of the best things you can do is begin securing your network through a network security assessment.

With an increasing number of employees working remotely on home networks, without the proper precautions in place, one wrong click could allow ransomware to infiltrate your network.

A few startling statistics from 2020 can shed some light on the state of cyber security:

  1. This year, we have seen an increase in targeted ransomware attacks aimed at newly remote workers. Hackers know home Wi-Fi networks are often inherently insecure and they are focusing their efforts on this weakness to exploit users at home.
  2. Businesses are now taking notice of these threats. Nearly 7 in 10 business leaders surveyed feel that cyber threats are increasing.
  3. There are many paths to network intrusion, but some of the most common are compromised passwords, social engineering, actions by disgruntled employees and back doors deliberately built into software and hardware devices.
  4. Security breaches were already at a record high in 2018, but since then the threat has only grown. Cyber security attacks have increased more than 10% since 2018, and 2020 is shaping up to be the worst year so far.

What can be done to combat network security threats?

Take the First Step by Conducting a Network Risk Assessment

The reality is that you can’t improve what you don’t measure. Think of a network risk assessment as a baseline or snapshot of your network security. Without knowing your weaknesses, protecting against them will be next to impossible.

What Are the Benefits?

There are many reasons why an assessment is so critical right now, from the need to reassure customers that their data is safe to peace of mind.

  • Concrete Evidence to Build a Case – A network security assessment can allow internal IT staff to pass on valuable information to business leaders, helping them see where they are vulnerable and how they can secure their infrastructure to minimize risk. Decision makers may be reluctant to invest in their network infrastructure, but seeing the deficiencies in black and white might be enough incentive to assure them that the investment in network security is necessary.
  • Business Insurance Policy & Compliance Approval – Business insurance providers want to know companies are doing everything in their power to guard against emerging threats like ransomware and phishing. Without this kind of reassurance, they may be reluctant to provide, or renew their policies. Your organization may be required to undergo a network security assessment in order to obtain a new cyber liability insurance policy or maintain an existing one. You may also need such an assessment to comply with regulations such as HIPAA.
  • A Network Security Benchmark – You cannot improve what you can’t measure. If your network has security gaps, it’s important to find solutions that will specifically address those vulnerabilities rather than a blanket one-size-fits-all network security solution.
  • Cyber security is a Process, Not a Project – New threats are always on the horizon. With new threats emerging, even if you have already undergone a network security assessment, conducting regular audits are the best way to guard against new threats as they continue to advance year after year.

When Should a Network Risk Assessment Be Conducted?

At Ontech Systems, we recommend conducting a network security assessment every one to two years depending on your industry and level of risk. Entities covered under HIPAA will need to undergo more frequent assessments, and nonprofit agencies may require more stringent audits as well.

Municipalities and local government agencies have not yet established frequency requirements for network security assessments, but that does not mean they can ignore the risks. Government agencies of all levels have been frequent targets of ransomware attacks, making network security assessments a critical part of doing business.

What is the Difference between a Risk Assessment and an IT Security Audit?

As with many aspects of IT, there are a variety of names for the same general IT solution. A risk assessment and an IT security audit are essentially the same thing.

Next Steps

Once a network security assessment is completed and the results presented, these important follow-up steps can get underway.

  • Procurement of managed security services and/or additional network security solutions
  • Security awareness training for management and staff
  • Ongoing vulnerability scans
  • The establishment of a cyber security policy
  • Budgeting for cyber security services

Get more details and a printable PDF on what is included in Ontech’s network security assessments here.

If you’re ready to schedule your first or your next, network security assessment, just give our support team a call at 262-522-8560 or reach out to us online.

From network security assessments, to budgeting and even vendor management, Ontech Systems is your full service cyber security partner. We stay on top of the latest threats and vulnerabilities so you don’t have to.

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