The stuff of an SMB manager’s nightmares are probably the usual suspects: financial projections, managing staff, and achieving growth targets. These are the standard subjects in business school, or the things you learn in the school of hard knocks. But it’s the things you don’t think about that could end up making or breaking your business, and sometimes the scariest of those is IT risk.

What Is IT Risk?

When you consider the security of your business offices, it’s a no-brainer to make sure you have a lock installed on the doors. It’s about protecting your information and your assets. But every company, no matter the industry, also has a digital footprint that needs to be protected. Your digital footprint includes everything from devices (computers, smart phones, printers) to data to software applications. Unfortunately, protecting your digital footprint isn’t as simple as putting a lock on the front door. There are many doorways bad actors can use and any number of methods to get them open. This is what IT risk is all about. Bad actors finding a way to compromise your work, data, and systems so that you—and your customers and clients—lose out in the end.

Managing Your Risk

As they say, knowing is half the battle. For IT risk, it’s knowing what could happen and what is currently happening. This is easier said than done. To truly mitigate your risk, you need to know what your devices are doing, what your people are doing, and what your systems are doing (which aren’t necessarily all the same thing at the same time). Having this insight into your digital footprint will set you up for success when you think about the steps to managing your IT risk.

Prevention, Mitigation, and Learning (Hopefully in That Order)

The best case scenario is to always find the open door before someone else can and lock it up against an attack. However, with so many ways into your system, prevention is not always going to be the name of the game. People can and will get into your systems, but that doesn’t mean all is lost. Once bad actors are in, it’s about shutting them out as quickly as possible. You can’t do that unless you know the ins and outs of your system so that you can identify how the problem got there in the first place.

But whether its prevention or mitigation, learning should always come after that. You should learn from your mistakes so that you can set your policies and create processes that help to keep your data and devices safe from attack.

But I’m Only One Person (and One Bottom Line)

It’s a lot to manage your IT risk, especially when you have other pulls on your time and resources. Be mindful about what you need and what you can devote to it. For example, LanScope Cat provides a soup-to-nuts IT risk management system. It monitors your devices, network, and employee behavior to help you do those three steps: prevention, mitigation, and learning. It also gives you an easy-to-use dashboard so that you don’t need a large IT team or even an IT genius to help you figure out what you need to do. This is the best way to mitigate your IT risk and prevent the rise of the nightmare scenario—by knowing the who, the what, the when, and the where of your digital business.