As the festive season rapidly approaches, many businesses prepare to wind down operations as staff take time to be with their families over the holiday season. Amidst the festive cheer, it's pivotal to ensure that your business IT Infrastructure and Cyber Security measures remain robust during the Christmas and New Year shutdown, but are you ready?
Let us delve into key considerations that should be on your checklist to ensure a secure and smooth operation during this period.
Have your employees scheduled out-of-office replies for email communications. Whilst many of your employees may be taking time off between Christmas and New Year, not all businesses shut down throughout the holiday season. Ensure that these messages are succinct and professional, providing alternative contacts for urgent matters and a return to office date.
Similar to your employee emails, updating your business phone system to reflect your opening hours during the holiday season is essential. An updated voice message can guide or forward callers to an emergency contact or advise on the date of reopening. The last thing you want is to have customers/clients waiting on hold for a call that will never be answered.
Whilst many businesses do shut down completely over the Christmas and New Year period, the same cannot be said for all. Some businesses will operate on reduced staffing levels, and many key workers will work remotely throughout that time. It is essential that your business prepares to have secure access to essential systems in place. Ensure that VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and other remote access systems are functioning and that employees can easily access everything that they may need throughout that time. Similarly, it is important that employees are aware of the process of logging IT Support requests with us throughout that time. Ensure that you communicate out escalation processes including how to log a ticket. Don’t be stuck needing help, we will be here to support you when you need us.
The holiday season often sees a surge in cyber attacks. This is because many businesses must leave much of their critical infrastructure operating whilst they are not in the office so that remote workers can continue to work effectively, and that they can seamlessly return to business in the New Year. However, cyber criminals are aware that this is also the time were people let their guards down. Throughout this time, employees may not be alert to common cyber threats such as phishing attacks and more. It's critical that businesses have Cyber Security tools such as Email Security and Endpoint Detection and Response, which use Intelligence and Machine Learning to monitor for Unusual, Suspicious or Malicious activity and block them in their tracks. Paired with 24/7/365 monitoring through our own Security Operations Centre, you can ensure that even if a cyber attack is launched on your business at 3 a.m. on Christmas Day... you stay protected!
Before shutting down, ensure that all operating systems and software is updated to the latest versions, this ensures that any Zero Day threats that have been discovered are patched to mitigate security risks. Manu businesses may also schedule necessary maintenance activities and IT projects throughout this time to prevent downtime and disruptions.
Cyber Security Awareness and Training is something that should continuously be shared throughout your business. However, throughout the holiday season, it is more important that employees do not let their guard down against these common cyber security threats. Remind staff of cyber security best practices, and what to watch out for, and ensure that they are aware of the procedures to follow in case of an emergency.
Regular Backups and Backup Security are crucial to safeguard your business data. Ensure that your Backup Policies and systems are functioning correctly and that all critical data is backed up before you shut down. This ensures that if the worst happens, such as a significant hardware failure, you can recover your data.
Emergency Contact Lists are not just essential within your business, they can also be essential for your customers, clients and partners. Ensure that all Key Personnel and Businesses are aware of emergency contacts for IT Support, Telecoms, Alarms, CCTV and much more, to make sure you are responded to in a timely manner in the event of a critical incident.
The Christmas and New Year period is a time for you to unwind and spend time with your family but ensuring that your business's critical IT infrastructure is secured, and functioning optimally and that key workers can continue to work seamlessly, will provide you with additional peace of mind during the break. By addressing the above considerations, you are well on your way to enjoying a hassle-free holiday season and TwentyFour is here to assist you throughout the downtime.
If you want to ensure that your business is prepared for the holiday shutdown and that you have the necessary support in place, please reach out to us today.