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The Value of a Business Impact Analysis

Published: at 10:10 AM
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As cybersecurity professionals, our job is to protect the company’s vital assets and data from every kind of threat out there. But here’s the thing, how can we do that effectively if we’re just guessing at what the critical assets actually are?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen security teams stuck playing this guessing game. We’re left speculating about which systems, apps, and data stores are the VIPs that need a bodyguard detail versus the ones that are less critical. We make our best guesses based on our industry knowledge and technical familiarity with the company. But at the end of the day, we’re shooting in the dark without a formal analysis.

And let me tell you, that guessing game is a huge risk. Overlook one mission-critical asset, and a breach or outage could literally bring the business down. Conversely, go overboard protecting low-priority stuff and you’ve just wasted tons of resources that could’ve been better used.

Business Impact Analysis

There’s a simple solution: Do a proper business impact analysis (BIA).

A BIA is like giving your security efforts a pair of X-ray glasses. It systematically identifies and evaluates all the key business functions, processes, and supporting assets. With a BIA, you really understand the potential impacts if things go sideways, so you can prioritize your risk mitigation game plan accordingly.

Real World Example (Personal Experience)

I was on a team (as a consultant) that reported to the the CISO at a large e-commerce company. My team had to secure everything from the customer website and payment platforms to all the backend inventory management and fulfillment systems. If we didn’t have a BIA, the obvious guess would be that the website and payments were the crowned jewels since they directly impacted revenue.

But after doing a proper BIA, we realized the true critical asset was the inventory management system. A prolonged outage of that system would utterly grind order fulfillment to a halt within days. We’re talking catastrophic financial bleeding, penalty fees out the wazoo, brand going down in flames.

With the BIA insight, we could put the appropriate resources into lockdown mode for the inventory system. For example, stringent security controls and air-tight recovery plans. At the same time, we avoided going overboard on website and payment protection.

A BIA doesn’t just prioritize your efforts though. It also surfaces the recovery time and data loss tolerances for each key asset. That’s vital intel for building a legit business continuity and disaster recovery plan to get back on your feet quickly after any kind of disruption.

In order to be successful, a comprehensive BIA requires cross-functional teamwork though. You need voices from across the organization such as presidents of each business area, IT teams, and ops people. It’s a serious undertaking, no doubt about it. But the ROI massively outweighs the costs.


The bottom line is in today’s cyber world, organizations can’t afford to play guesswork roulette with security. A proper BIA gives you the insights to spend your resources protecting what actually matters, mitigating risks in a calculated way.

If you haven’t done one recently, quit gambling and invest in a legit business impact analysis, ASAP. Your company’s future could depend on it.