For many businesses, a robust, secure IT infrastructure is a major source of competitive advantage, enabling higher productivity levels and minimizing the risk of disruptive attacks. However for organizations with a suboptimal set up, IT infrastructure can represent a critical vulnerability. Like all core structural elements of an organization, the IT infrastructure should be constantly maintained, assessed, and updated.
Unfortunately, it’s often the case that IT departments spend more time fighting fires than they do proactively planning for the future. Conducting an IT infrastructure assessment with a cybersecurity firm like Tech Heads doesn’t have to be a heavy lift, and there are IT service providers that can perform an expert infrastructure assessment without any disruption to the day-to-day workings of the business.
By conducting an IT infrastructure assessment, businesses can discover and proactively address vulnerabilities, take steps to improve their IT infrastructure, and leverage IT solutions that enable their employees to be more productive.
What Is an IT Infrastructure Assessment?
At a simple level, an IT infrastructure assessment is a comprehensive review of the information technology systems an organization has in place. The assessment typically includes an overview, recommendations for improvement to the infrastructure, and guidance on best practices an organization should follow.
An IT infrastructure assessment covers these areas:
- Network performance and security
- Server environment
- End user devices
- Software versions, support, and updates
- Backup policies
- Incident response policies and procedures
Organizations usually work with an external service provider to conduct an IT infrastructure assessment. This guarantees a systematic, objective approach is taken to the assessment. By working with an external partner, organizations can also learn about the latest strategic frameworks, software configurations, and other best practices. They can then apply these to their own systems.
IT infrastructure assessments are conducted without any disruption to the day-to-day work of the organization, and don’t impact employee workflows. Software is deployed to scan an organization’s systems and seek out vulnerabilities. As part of the assessment, the service provider will share best practices and provide guidance on choosing optimal hardware and software solutions.
The infrastructure assessments should be conducted on a periodic basis, allowing firms to understand the latest developments in the industry, position themselves against emerging threats, and maintain a robust security posture on an ongoing basis.
Why Should I Have an Infrastructure Assessment?
Regular IT infrastructure assessments are important, especially for smaller organizations who might lack the time, resources, or expertise to effectively manage sophisticated IT infrastructures. Conducting periodic infrastructure assessments brings many benefits to organizations. Here are the main reasons organizations should consider conducting an infrastructure assessment:
Early Detection of Security Vulnerabilities
The threat landscape that businesses in all industries face is constantly evolving, and the security solutions that worked a few years ago are unlikely to still be fully effective in safeguarding your business.
Related: A Guide to Cyber Threat Intelligence
An IT infrastructure assessment enables organizations to scan their entire system to identify vulnerabilities that bad actors may seek to exploit. Once these vulnerabilities have been pinpointed, organizations can take steps to address them based on their priority.
Working with a Managed Cyber Security Service is one way for organizations to do this. These service providers have a wide range of expertise. The best partners have a deep technical bench, certifications in a variety of fields, and cutting-edge knowledge of common vulnerabilities and emerging threats. Partnering with a provider like this enables organizations to build a comprehensive understanding of their security posture in relation to the latest threats.
Long-Term IT Strategy Development
All too often in small and medium sized businesses, IT can be more of a reactive than a proactive function. An IT infrastructure assessment helps change this organizational mindset, and provides IT teams with a clear roadmap for the future development of their IT infrastructure.
The assessment allows organizations to better align their IT function to business objectives, and identify long-term strategic priorities that strengthen the organization as a whole.
An IT infrastructure assessment also enables firms to understand the true cost of ownership of different aspects of their IT stack. This helps leaders to better forecast IT expenditure, and also identifies additional costs such as security awareness training or IT consulting that may be required to supplement the overall IT infrastructure of the organization.
Unlock Greater Business Productivity
An IT infrastructure assessment doesn’t just look at the security of the organization, it also considers how an organization can better utilize IT solutions to become more productive. There are all kinds of different tools that can be added to an organization’s existing IT infrastructure to unlock higher levels of productivity among employees.
Examples of these improvements could include moving an organization’s data storage to a cheaper, faster, cloud-based solution, or making investments in services like Microsoft 365 security to improve the security of tools that employees use everyday.
Ensuring Organizational Compliance
In many industries, organizations are responsible for ensuring their IT infrastructure is in compliance with a set of standards. These standards are typically set by a third party, such as the government, a regulator, or a universally recognized industry body. Often, compliance standards will be outlined in customer contracts or partnership agreements.
Failing to satisfy compliance standards can be catastrophic – both in terms of financial penalties and reputational damages. This is particularly true in heavily regulated industries like healthcare, insurance, and finance. It’s imperative, for example, for a healthcare business to have a HIPAA-compliant IT infrastructure, or for a SaaS business to be SOC 2 compliant.
It’s always best for organizations to uncover any compliance issues during an IT infrastructure assessment, rather than during an external audit. This gives organizations ample opportunity to remediate any compliance issues. Many organizations conduct an IT infrastructure assessment as a precursor to an audit to ensure they are well-positioned for a successful audit.
What’s Included in an IT Infrastructure Assessment?
Many organizations that conduct IT infrastructure assessments will have a framework which they apply consistently across different organizations. This ensures that the entire IT infrastructure is systematically assessed, and that no areas are missed.
The framework will vary according to several factors, including the size of the organization, the sophistication of their IT infrastructure, and the industry they operate in. The framework will be regularly updated to reflect emerging threats and new best practices.
An IT infrastructure assessment will typically include the following elements:
Comprehensive Infrastructure Overview
IT infrastructure is a finely tuned machine consisting of a broad network of systems, software applications, and devices. It’s important to ensure that the current architecture is designed to support this complexity and makes efficient use of capacity and other resources.
It only takes one point of vulnerability for an attack to have a major impact on an organization. As part of the infrastructure assessment, a vulnerability assessment will be conducted to identify any areas of weakness. A plan will be presented to address any vulnerabilities which arise.
A cybersecurity scorecard helps organizations understand their current level of protection against relevant cybersecurity threats. The scorecard looks at the security posture of the organization in relation to four key variables: systems, people, threats, and policy. By understanding the strength of their defense against the latest threats, organizations can make investments in services like managed detection and response that improve their overall security posture.
Incident Response Policies & Procedures
In the event of an attack, it’s important that organizations have a series of policies and procedures they can refer to in order to detect, diagnose, and remediate issues as soon as possible. These are a vital component of the IT infrastructure and are pivotal in the hours and days following an attack. These policies and procedures should be regularly updated to account for emerging threats and new attack profiles.
Recommendations for Optimization
An IT infrastructure assessment provides firms with a series of recommendations for optimizing aspects of their current network and systems. These recommendations will outline a plan for organizations to build competitive advantages by making improvements to their current infrastructure or embracing new technologies.
Arrange an IT Infrastructure Assessment Today
An IT infrastructure assessment is a critical first step to improving the security and efficiency of any organization. By partnering with an experienced IT service provider, firms can identify weaknesses in their current infrastructure, and design and implement plans to improve.
At TechHeads, we have a long track record of successfully conducting IT infrastructure assessments for leading small and medium businesses in the Pacific Northwest. Our team of 26 experts have certifications across more than 30 different disciplines of IT and cybersecurity, and stand ready to lead your IT infrastructure assessment.
Our goal is to turn IT into your biggest competitive advantage by optimizing your infrastructure and boosting productivity across your organization. If you’re interested in learning more, reach out to our team today.
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