Strategies for understanding, mitigating and embracing IT risk

If you run a company with an online component, there is a base level of inherent IT risk. The larger and more complex your company, the bigger the impact of cybersecurity breaches, data breaches, system downtime, data loss, unauthorised access, insider threats, compliance violations, technological obsolescence, vendor dependency and inadequate IT infrastructure becomes. So, today we’ll look at strategies for understanding, mitigating and embracing IT risk that you can put into practice to protect your IP, data and customers.

IT risk assessment

First, you need to define the IT risk and its components. You can do this by conducting an IT risk assessment. It’s a good idea to follow an established framework like NIST RMF, but the general assessment process is this:

  1. Document your critical IT assets including hardware, software, data, networks, vendors and personnel.
  2. Map how cyberattacks, natural disasters, human errors or technological failures could impact your IT systems.
  3. Order pen testing on your IT infrastructure to find any lapses in security controls.
  4. Now qualify how likely each risk is and the impact to the business.
  5. Evaluate the level of risk for each identified threat and give it a priority score.
  6. Develop strategies to mitigate, transfer, accept or avoid these risks.
  7. Continuously monitor and review the effectiveness of your risk management strategies and update them as new threats emerge.

Mitigating IT risk

As part of step 6, you’ll want to implement proactive security measures. These might include:


These rules and algorithms secure data by converting it into an unreadable format that requires a key. These protocols ensure data confidentiality and integrity during transmission or storage. It’s a great way to protect sensitive information from unauthorised access or interception.

Access controls and authentication

These are security measures that regulate access to computer systems, networks and data resources. Access controls determine who can access specific resources and what they can do, while authentication verifies their identity. You can do this with passwords, biometric authentication, multi-factor authentication or role-based access control.


Intrusion detection and prevention systems monitor networks for signs of malicious behaviour or policy violations. They’re looking at traffic, system logs and other data sources to identify suspicious activities or anomalies. Many will even block or mitigate detected threats to prevent unauthorised access.

Incident response plans

How you respond to cybersecurity incidents, data breaches and other IT-related emergencies matters. Have a plan with roles and responsibilities, escalation procedures, communication protocols and steps for containing, investigating and mitigating security incidents. This can minimise the impact of security breaches and restore normal operations quickly.

Embracing IT risk

While it seems like an odd thing to say, modern cybersecurity is about accepting that an incident will happen one day. It’s about shifting perspectives from risk avoidance to risk management and leveraging acceptable levels of IT risk so there’s still an opportunity for innovation and growth. Let us help you balance your IT risk-taking with strategic goals and build a culture of experimentation and learning where you’re prepared should the worst happen.


Ready to embrace a healthy level of IT risk? Talk to us on LinkedIn, Twitter or via the website here.