Small Scale Risk: Modern Assessment Practices For SMBs

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When setting up a small business, standard practice demands that your business plan outline the risks involved, but this basic framework is often insufficient when it comes to day-to-day operations. Simply put, it’s impossible to predict the ways in which technology will change in the near future and the associated risks that come with it. Risk assessment should be an ongoing process.

If your SMB is struggling to secure your data or boost network privacy, these 4 simple steps can help. Your SMB has a responsibility – to clients and employees – to perform with integrity and technical competency.

Think Project Level

One of the easiest ways to identify security risks within your company is to shift your risk assessment process to the project level. Instead of trying to reform an entire data system at once, you might focus on reviewing or establishing an acceptable use policy for your network. Even if you think you can trust your employees to do the right thing on the company network, a clear policy makes everyone aware of internal security expectations and consequences for misuse.

Know Your Assessment Options

There’s more than one way to approach risk assessment, and choosing the right form is key to minimizing business liability. Many SMBs focus on basic quantitative risk assessment, premised on the mathematical probability of loss, the development of hypotheticals, and actuarial data.

Those companies courting larger contracts, though, may prefer something like the more thorough NIST SP 800-30, developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. This procedure includes extensive focus on threat identification, risk determination, and documentation. It’s an ideal procedure for those managing very sensitive data or who believe their threat risk to be especially high.

Make The Data Work

One of the main reasons SMBs need insurance is for legal liability. This includes security breaches and data loss. But rather than centering data loss in your risk assessment framework, consider how you can make the rise of big data work for your company.

New frameworks like CARTA – Continuous Adaptive Risk and Trust Assessment – use an agile framework for real-time decision making. This sets it apart from older models that depend on prior analysis to determine risk and set the course of operations. CARTA can be challenging to implement because it requires companies to bridge a complex divide between development and operations – however, it can benefit your company immensely in the long term.

Keep Your Format Flexible

The basic rules of risk assessment and mitigation are CIA: confidentiality, integrity, and availability. These three factors can be hard to accomplish simultaneously; can you keep data sufficiently under wraps as to maintain confidentiality and still make it available for use? You can, but it may require professional assistance.

By taking steps towards preemptive risk mitigation through active data management, you can minimize the odds of a worst case scenario. Generally, this means investing in appropriate data management tools rather than relying on spreadsheets or other informal data management practices. The more finely you can break down your data to assess internal trends, the more likely you are to catch problems before they manifest in operations.

The best approach to risk assessment and management is a proactive one, and that means planning for the worst outcome to achieve the best one. It may seem contradictory and pessimistic to operate on the assumption of failure, but with major industry pins falling to insufficient security every day, the fact is that these threats are always looming. As an SMB, you’ll have to stay ahead to stay in business at all.

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