Whether the last quarter of the year is busy or slow for your business, the year is coming to an end. With the holidays right around the corner, many of your employees are looking to take time off or work remotely to maximize their vacation time. For IT departments, this can mean a lot of stress around keeping all systems secure with zero downtime – potentially with a reduced staff of their own. Or, for large retailers gearing up for Black Friday, a lot of technology stress in general. It’s not too late to get prepared and ensure that the holidays don’t affect your IT.
Holiday-Proof Your IT
Plan for Remote Access
Vacations and holidays should be a time to relax and disconnect from work. In the digital age, though, there is often an expectation of always-on availability. Employees who travel over the holidays might still need to remotely access systems in order to send emails and access corporate resources. You should anticipate an increase in remote work during the holiday season and prepare your network administrators ahead of time.
This always-on demand applies to employees and systems. Preparation can eliminate any potential issues that may arise from overloaded server requests and employees who are unable to remotely and securely access their systems. Make sure in advance that your company’s remote connectivity experience is secure, fast and seamless. Let your employees spend more time with their families, not on troubleshooting.
Have a Business Continuity Plan
Business disruptions can wreak havoc on your infrastructure – and not just cyber infrastructure. Inclement weather can cause a number of potential disasters for your business at the same time many of your employees are away, or the office is closed. Unexpected weather can cause power outages, leading to productivity loss and even data loss.
Your company needs a strong business continuity plan in place before disaster strikes. Part of this plan should involve identifying threats to your business’s ability to operate, environmental or otherwise. Data loss and business disruption events can come from many sources. You need a strong monitoring and alerting system and proven, seamless failover plan in place to protect your business and keep everything up and running.
Implement Security Awareness Training
Imagine the worst-case scenario: your employee connects their work device to a seemingly harmless public WiFi to answer an email and exposes your data and environment to hackers. Now, think about how many of your workers will be traveling for the holidays and using open networks in high traffic public spaces like airports and hotels. There is a greater likelihood of your employees being targeted by hackers or malicious actors, but there are ways to lower your cyber exposure.
If your company doesn’t already engage in internal security awareness training, the holidays are a great time to share some best practices. Make sure that every employee, not just your IT department, understands the basics:
- Don’t connect to unsecured networks
- Never click ‘Remember Me’ on a public computer
- Be wary of public charging stations, which can be compromised
- Use a privacy screen to keep onlookers from seeing any sensitive information
- Never leave your devices unattended when traveling
Take Advantage of Managed Services
If your IT team is understaffed or stretched thin, the holidays aren’t going to help. Now is a good time to consider outsourcing some of the day-to-day functions to a trusted managed services provider. Leveraging an MSP can help augment your staff and free up your internal resources. A good service provider can offer 24/7/365 availability and support for your entire IT environment and allow your team to enjoy their time off.
Not only that, but a managed services security provider will maintain the most up-to-date technologies and expertise to combat new and emerging cyber threats. While cyber-attacks aren’t limited to one particular season, the holidays are a tempting time for attackers. Don’t wait to prepare your infrastructure. It’s the best gift you can give your IT team – and the business.