As an accounting professional, you provide your clients a great deal of advice on mitigating business risk. You help them document their successes, their failures, and assist them with preparing for unexpected financial “eventualities”.
In this same vein, think of an IT risk assessment as the sort of assessment a Los Angeles CPA would do, if they were as knowledgeable and experienced with technology and security as they are with financial and tax matters.
Getting a third party assessment can help you understand the potential impact on your business should there be an event such as:
- A network outage due to a natural disaster, tornado, hurricane, or a stumble-footed data center intern
- A denial-of-service attack or other man made outage
- A long term power failure such as a grid outage due to overloading
- A disgruntled or rogue employee
Contracting with a technology professional, to do a thorough analysis of your information management environment, can provide you with a disaster recovery strategy for when you really need it.
Here are some of the key elements a quality IT risk assessment should identify:
- A thorough inventory of hardware and software assets
- Identification of realistic threats in your region – including potential natural disasters
- Categorizing potential vulnerabilities in people, processes, and technology systems
- Analysis of the likelihood of a disaster occurring
- Impact analysis based on your current safeguards and contingencies
- Recommendations of remediation strategies and improvements
In many cases, after an IT risk assessment has been performed, you can take the analysis from the consultant and apply the recommendations yourself or hire the contractor to address those items that you don’t have the skills to do yourself.
You can make adjustments to your firm’s business processes causing exposures and then documenting a Disaster Recovery Plan, so that you’re prepared to implement the needed strategies to ensure business continuity in the event of an interruption.
Some of the items you should consider being included in a Disaster Recovery Plan could include:
- Making client information available to key employees via the Cloud, so they can work from home should your office become inaccessible
- How your client files are backed up should your internal systems go down, or stored files become corrupted
- What might happen if key employees leave your firm, either due to resignation, termination, health crisis, or otherwise
- Your client notification strategy should you have a data breach, data loss, or your business closes down
An IT risk assessment is the first step in identifying the gaps that exist in your firm’s approach to securing its technology. Determining the best way forward should a disaster occur or the best way to minimize the impact of these events is the next step in the process. What is critical is finding the right strategic partner to help prepare you to be able to make the best of potentially bad situations.
Have you had an IT risk assessment done on your LA accounting firm? What sort of changes have you implemented as a result? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.
And to follow-through on the tips introduced in this short article, be sure to download your free guide, 12 Ways for CPA Firms in LA to Utilize Technology More Efficiently.