Security breaches can happen at any time, but the holiday seasons have proven to be a time when successful attacks can peak for several reasons, mostly because companies relax their guard during the period. Both office staff and hackers alike are happy on holidays, but they celebrate very polar forms of “downtime”: one away from work and the other knee-deep in “work”. The good news is that there are practical steps we can take to foil the malicious efforts of hackers during the holiday season:

 

1. Test Your Disaster Recovery and Incident Response Plans

 

Vigilance is your greatest ally in the fight against hackers. Your Incident response protocols should be thoroughly documented and, more importantly, be exposed to rigorous testings. Holiday seasons are the opportune time to stress test the company’s readiness to cope with a cyberattack while short-staffed. It’s also the best opportunity to run disaster recovery tests to sniff out any vulnerabilities in the systems. Testing your security systems in conditions where hackers would commonly try to launch attacks is vital for your IT Security.

 

2. Stay Vigilant During the Holidays

 

Remember, hackers exploit vulnerabilities in and around their intended target, and staff away from the office may be exactly the vulnerability they need to throw the whole system wide open. This fact calls on staff to be extremely cautious with where they leave their devices as well as for them to ensure that their data is encrypted and secure.

Social Engineering, which is a tactic used by cyber criminals to get users to reveal confidential information, is also a major concern during holidays. Being aware of how social engineering works is the most effective way of protecting yourself and your company from social engineering fraud.

 

3. Backup Your Data

 

Ransomware and data loss have immeasurable leverage on you if they threaten the safety of your data. Keeping company data migrated to external hard drives or extensively using cloud storage shifts the leverage back in your favour. Whatever the choice of backup storage is, keep the storage media offsite as this adds a layer of protection against hazards like fire, water damage and burglaries.

 

4. Keep Your System Up to Date

 

Your operating system and applications need regular patchwork to remove vulnerabilities and fix bugs. This isn’t limited to just your Windows and macOS, but the smaller operating systems embedded in dedicated devices like room consoles, thermostats and video conferencing systems. Furthermore, annual releases of patches and related operational tools go a long way into ensuring your IT systems are secure.

 

5. Compromise and Spoof Phishing Emails

 

Clever hackers know that over the summer period, for example, staff who normally pay invoices on behalf of the company may well be on leave. However, invoices still need to be processed, and the staff delegated to do that could be conned more easily into responding to phishing requests like “change of bank account details”. Companies need to understand this type of fraud and have well-documented processes for dealing with such phishing emails. All staff in these roles should receive specific and focused training in this area as well.

 

getNEXT‘s  Security Solutions and Managed IT Services give you comprehensive protection against any cyber-attacks. Let getNEXT provide you with peace of mind without worrying about data breaches or system downtime and improve your current IT performance. Download the Office Holiday Shutdown Checklist.

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