Risk Mitigation Strategies in the Fields of Technology and Management

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Opinions on perceiving and managing risk can vary greatly depending on the individual. Many information technology professionals favor an objective approach that provides some form of calculated answer. However, perceiving risk comes with compelling subjective components that need to be considered. Physiological factors influence how we receive information and ultimately determine where on the risk scale activities fall.

Daily User Risk

Social media is a great example of the ongoing misperception of risk by end users. The sentiment around social media platforms remains relatively positive. It connects members all over the world with friends, family, brands, and other pleasantries. In response to the pleasant sentiment, users subconsciously categorize social media as a low-risk activity because of its benefits. This skewed evaluation makes them more likely to share personal information and data with the public without thoroughly considering the malicious use cases such as phishing, the practice of social engineering through email or social media.1

Studies show the perception of an individual is much different from the collective sentiment of a group. Additional influences, like conformity, begin to affect the opinions of others. When several people participate in a single activity, the perception becomes lower-risk than the initial judgment. This can cause dangerous lapses in judgment.

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Risk Among Technology Experts

Security professionals misperceive risk as often as the end user, but in a different way. They tend to fall on the opposite side of the risk spectrum. Protecting the network and its critical data is the top priority of their roles, but due to the tendency for professionals to laser focus on one issue, there is an increased risk of missing the bigger picture.

Senior Leadership Risks

Misperceiving risk happens at every level of an organization and there are many examples. Information technology decision-makers rely on respective teams to collect information for projects. This information is what many leaders use to make organizational decisions. The chances of the information being biased or incomplete are highly likely. It presents a significant risk that technology managers should be actively trying to recognize.

Techniques for Managing the Perception of Risk

Preventing the misperception of risk begins and ends with effective communication within an organization. From end users to senior technology leadership, seeking various perspectives provides everyone a better understanding of the overall perceived risk factors and landscape. Facilitating conversations, asking tough questions, and encouraging friendly debate among opinions can address several areas of vulnerability. Specifically, the risk of wide-scale devastation as a result of poorly informed decision-making.

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  1. Oxley, A. (2011). A best practices guide for mitigating risk in the use of social media. Washington, D.C.: IBM Center for the Business of Government.

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