This blog post by Petra Adamik addresses what companies can do to stay up-to-date in terms of IT security.   Whether in business or life: things don’t always work out as planned. In the age of globalization and continuously increasing competition, the business environment faces increasing risks and dangers. Companies are well-advised to start thinking about this and taking adequate measures early on:   What are the risks for our business? Where do dangers lurk? What mistakes can I make as an entrepreneur and how can I avoid them? And what is the likelihood of potential risk actually happening and pushing the company to the brink of existence?   You should be prepared for all of these questions and have an action plan waiting in the wings in case worse comes to worst. This procedure is called risk management.   Not only large corporations, but also small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can be affected by risks. It is thus advisable to take precautions in order to be prepared for all eventualities. However, many corporate decision-makers still have difficulties managing risks. This applies to IT risks in particular. This is nevertheless precisely where many dangers lurk – because, even in SMEs, IT has become an indispensable basis for vital business processes. Technology failures and other security problems can thus turn into a real danger. IT risk management can help you identify economic risks. Such a solution can, however, also point out possibilities for savings in the infrastructure and organization. Furthermore, tailor-made risk management can also optimize the existing emergency plan and bring it up to date.   Associations provide assistance   The whole thing is of course associated with a certain expenditure, which for many SMEs accounts for the failure to implement IT risk and opportunity management. Many companies also avoid cooperating with relevant experts, since they fear high consultancy costs. The high-tech association Bitkom offers such candidates free assistance in the form of a comprehensive guide. On the basis of case studies, the paper explains how smaller enterprises have introduced the active management of IT risks and opportunities, and how they benefit from it. It also describes a general methodology for identifying and assessing relevant risks. The relevant guide can be downloaded for free. Support and assistance is also offered by regional chambers of industry and commerce, who offer workshops and checklists to help with the introduction of risk management.   Introducing IT risk management is not as difficult as many believe. You should first create a risk matrix as well as prioritize the potential risks by making a list. Doing so can also facilitate analyzing the causes of risks. The analysis can in turn serve as the basis for drawing up an action plan that identifies possible solutions and preventive steps. In the final phase, the relevant solutions are selected and integrated into the existing environment. Detailed information and training of staff is an essential element for successfully implementing IT risk management.   Clever protection of corporate communications   The market offers a lot of tools to ensure the security of corporate communications today. Firewalls, antivirus programs and encryption are some of the essential risk management components that can provide protection against a number of risks.   Firewalls protect the corporate network from unauthorized access via the internet. A firewall can be used to monitor all inbound and outbound data traffic. It can be integrated into the corporate network as part of a router, but can also be connected as an external component upstream or downstream from a router to protect your data traffic. Firewalls are an absolute MUST for any IT risk management system.   This is also true for virus protection, which prevents computer viruses and worms as well as trojans or other pests from infecting corporate networks and the associated devices and applications. Antivirus software, virus scanners or virus protection programs are important defensive measures against cyber attacks. They can also detect threats, isolate them from your data traffic and help eliminate dangers. Locally operating virus programs require continuous upgrades in order to maintain effective protection; cloud offerings where the operator maintains the filters and the customer does not have to take care of anything are even better.   Companies encrypt electronic business correspondence to protect their crown jewels, namely critical business information. End-to-end encryption ensures that information, contracts or agreements sent by email are securely dispatched via the internet. Encryption solutions can be integrated into business processes without a major effort. Hornetsecurity’s cloud-based encryption technology, for example, automatically takes over the resulting administration effort. Rules and guidelines are essential elements of risk management and also help make an encryption solution an integral part of security measures.   Business emails with company-relevant content must not be lost. While this is part of legal compliance requirements, it is also important for business processes. Automatic and revision-proof archiving of emails is thus essential for any company. The flood of daily messages requires good search algorithms in order to keep track of things and quickly find said messages. Such algorithms facilitate searches in the digital archive. Different search parameters can be used to further restrict and more precisely define the results.   The objective of coherent IT risk management is to identify risks early on so that appropriate countermeasures can be initiated. The impact of adverse events on business processes can be significantly reduced in this way.