If you are a small business owner, you are no stranger to scrutiny. However, if you are a vendor, you may find that the companies you supply increasingly want to know about your cybersecurity measures. Managed technology company ImageQuest talks to us today about these risk assessments, why they are happening, and how Bowling Green businesses can prepare when your customers come calling.
Q: Thank you for talking with us this afternoon. We know that cybersecurity is a huge issue, and look forward to any advice you can provide. Today, we would like to talk about risk assessments. Let’s start by explaining what, exactly, that means?
ImageQuest: A risk assessment is essentially the process of a business evaluating its data security posture and how well it meets regulatory requirements. It is an opportunity to identify weak spots and to make corrections as needed to ensure that protected information about customers and employees is secure.
Q: More and more, this means evaluating digital processes, is that correct?
ImageQuest: Yes, it is. A risk assessment reviews a company’s IT policies and processes. Specifically, during a cybersecurity risk assessment, the evaluator looks at a company’s risk of being the victim of a successful data breach or cyberattack.
Q: What do you mean by successful?
ImageQuest: Virtually all businesses are high risk, and many do not realize that their information is vulnerable and valuable on the black market. Small business owners have almost a 100 percent guarantee of becoming a target at some point. A successful cyberattack is one that breaches ineffective processes and systems and grants the hacker access to the information they seek.
Q: A risk assessment can stop this?
ImageQuest: Often, yes. Something to keep in mind is that hackers usually do not expect smaller companies to have the same cybersecurity budget as larger ones. We tell our Bowling Green clients that this is their biggest weakness.
Q: What kinds of businesses should do a cybersecurity risk assessment on themselves and their vendors?
ImageQuest: The short answer is all of them. However, businesses that store or collect sensitive information must pay careful attention to their digital security needs. Think about an attorney, for example. While they do not typically hold credit card information, they will have documents detailing intellectual property, divorce records, and other personal data their clients might not want to be viewed or accessed by anyone else.
Q: Once a risk assessment is complete, and the results are in, what happens next?
ImageQuest: That depends on the findings. If you have assessed your own processes, you can make a move to upgrade your cybersecurity efforts. Many of our Bowling Green clients are vendors, however, and are asked to complete a third-party risk assessment. When their results are returned, they are usually given the option to correct any defects in their cybersecurity processes.
Q: Can a business prepare for a risk assessment?
ImageQuest: It is best to have security measures in place just as a matter of routine business. However, businesses that are contacted for a third-party cybersecurity assessment have a few options. The first step is to contact a local expert. In Bowling Green, our cybersecurity teams can help deploy basic measures and then work with the business owner and their leadership teams to create a dynamic digital security program. If it is not possible to take immediate action, companies can minimize the damage by preparing information on how they plan to rectify problems.
Q: Do you have any tips to help a business implement online security procedures?
ImageQuest: Absolutely. We would suggest starting by changing passwords on all accounts. Next, limit physical and digital access to important records. Both of these are items that a risk assessment will probably cover. Companies that do not have a dedicated IT team can contact ImageQuest; we service Bowling Green, KY, Nashville, TN, and most cities in between.
Q: That is great advice, and we appreciate you being here with us today.
ImageQuest provides clients throughout the Bowling Green area with cybersecurity, managed IT services, and IT compliance consulting. For more information, visit them online at ImageQuest.com.