In business, IT risk management entails a process of identifying, monitoring and managing potential information security or technology risks with the goal of mitigating or minimising their negative impact.
Examples of potential IT risks include security breaches, data loss or theft, cyber attacks, system failures and natural disasters. Anything that could affect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of your systems and assets could be considered an IT risk.
Steps in the IT risk management process
To manage IT risks effectively, follow these six steps in your risk management process:
- Identify risks - determine the nature of risks and how they relate to your business. Take a look at the different types of IT risk.
- Assess risks - determine how serious each risk is to your business and prioritise them. Carry out an IT risk assessment.
- Mitigate risks - put in place preventive measures to reduce the likelihood of the risk occurring and limit its impact. Find solutions in our IT risk management checklist.
- Develop incident response - set out plans for managing a problem and recovering your operations. Form your IT incident response and recovery strategy.
- Develop contingency plans - ensure that your business can continue to run after an incident or a crisis. Read about IT risk and business continuity.
- Review processes and procedures - continue to assess threats and manage new risks.
Read more about the processes and strategies to manage business risk.
IT risk controls
As part of your risk management, try to reduce the likelihood of risks affecting your business in the first place. Put in place measures to protect your systems and data from all known threats.
For example, you should:
- Review the information you hold and share. Make sure that you comply with data protection legislation, and think about what needs to be on public or shared systems. Where possible, remove sensitive information.
- Install and maintain security controls, such as firewalls, anti-virus software and processes that help prevent intrusion. See how to protect your business online.
- Implement security policies and procedures such as internet and email usage policies, and train staff. Follow best practice in cyber security for business.
- Use a third-party IT provider if you lack in-house skills. Often, they can provide its own security expertise. See how to choose an IT supplier for your business.
Read more about the security measures in the National Cyber Security Centre's 10 steps to cyber security guidance.
Mitigate IT risks
If you can't remove or reduce risks to an acceptable level, you may be able to take action to lessen the impact of potential incidents. You should consider:
- setting procedures for detecting problems (eg a virus infecting your system) - read about cyber security breach detection
- getting insurance against the costs of security breaches - see cyber insurance
See also IT risk management policies.