As organizations embrace technology, competitive pressures, and globalization to drive business growth, they are redefining success to include the responsibility of restoring economic stability. While some enterprises are moving forward by creating strategic value, a large proportion has failed to effectively measure and manage business performance. Organizations aspire to create a culture of performance based on accountability, intelligence and informed decision-making. By combining structured and unstructured data, gleaned from efficient use of information technology, businesses are trying to ensure the delivery of strategic priorities and goals.
However, due to the absence of mature IT risk management principles organizations are failing to sustain business performance in the risk-intensive world. Failures also originate from non-attachment of adequate importance to the critical role IT risk management plays within the overall risk framework. While an evolved technology risk management helps in identifying, assessing and prioritizing a wide variety of threats involving hardware and software, human error, viruses and malicious attacks, and a poor risk approach exposes the entire business process to several unpredictable endogenous and exogenous factors.
Unfortunately, a steady stream of large-scale technology-related risk events is striking enterprises around the world. In a recent attack, hackers targeted Sony Pictures Entertainment computer network, forcing the global electronics giant to shut down its systems. While the sophisticated attack disrupted operations with recovery time estimated at more than three weeks, the firm has been threatened with unleashing all “internal data including secrets and top secrets”. The incident follows attacks on Sony’s PlayStation game console which has been termed “massive, expensive and absolutely embarrassing.”
Attacks affecting evolved IT infrastructure represent the growing sophistication of threats and the heightened vulnerability of mid-tier and small businesses’ network structure. IT breach entails damage to reputation, consumer trust and profitability – all integral components of business performance, restoration of which to the previous levels is almost never achieved. Therefore, companies should incorporate mature IT risk management strategy to continue driving business performance, by doing the following:
Improve security: To ensure that an organization’s technology elements contribute to sustaining business performance, it’s a prerequisite that the overall IT environment is adequately protected. It involves securing all software and hardware properties in compliance with regulatory recommendations. Simple steps such as enhanced password policy, regular data back up and software update, and securing remote storage, network connections and servers are vital.
Train Staff: While taking measures for improving the overall IT security are to be viewed as a basic necessity, staff training to handle advanced systems enables the safeguarding of the systems. Insufficiently trained employees entrusted with operational responsibilities fail to execute day-to-day duties, do not foresee any impending threat and fail to aid in resolving issues after breach occurs. Also, adequate training boosts employee confidence which contributes to creating a healthy risk culture within an organization.
Identify and analysis of risks: Risk identification refers to recognizing any potential threat, intuitively, by logical reasoning and by using past experience. In the Sony example cited above, intermittent adverse events happening over the past few years should have enabled proactive identification of any imminent threat. Analysis of a potential disaster entails determining the scale of impact on business performance. Risk identification and efficient analysis are inseparably linked, as faulty or non-identification renders the entire risk practice ineffective.
Prioritize, mitigate and audit: Skillful evaluation allows risk managers to prioritize the risk treatment corrective actions based on their potential positive impact on business performance. IT risks, similar to infrastructure security threats, do not represent opportunity that requires managing them in tune to the risk appetite of the organization. Therefore, risk mitigation in a mature IT risk strategy should mostly refer to elimination or forestalling of risks. A successful IT risk management program equipped to drive business performance includes periodic audits of the risk treatment and business continuity plans. Reviews of systems and audits of processes facilitate customization of the implementation strategy and streamlining of budget allocation, while ensuring that the risk culture is ever present and enhanced.
Business Continuity Management: To maintain business performance by ensuring business continuity it is important that firms build and implement responses to tackle adverse incidents or events, which range from access and service denial to infrastructure damage. A complete adn competent business continutiy plan ascertains faster recovery, which builds trust and reputation.
Such a robust IT risk management strategy will increase the potential for better business performance for the future of the organization.
Risk Management Studio is a risk management toolkit combining information security and technology risk management with business continuity planning for one easy to use solution. RM Studio is a turnkey deployment design that will immediately streamline the operational risk management for the implementation and maintenance of effective and efficient ISMS, as well as meet the compliance requirements outlined in management standards such as ISO 27001:2013 and PCI DSS 3.0.