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Keeping your IT systems safe at Christmas

Mark Dalton - Friday, November 27, 2015

The build up to Christmas is a more relaxed time of year for many companies, but this can also expose companies’ IT systems to increased risk.

A survey by CompTIA in April 2015 found that 52% security breaches were caused by human error so this can be a good time to take steps to avoid unnecessary risks to your IT system.

Here are some of the major risks and what you can do about them:

Christmas shopping

Christmas and events in the run up to Christmas such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday are key times for online purchasing. If employees are using work PCs to make purchases or their work email address this may make your IT system vulnerable.

Retailers will be sending emails with their latest offers to encourage people to buy and fraudsters will also exploit this time to try to persuade individuals to disclose private information such as their bank details or to download malicious software or computer viruses. And it’s not just emails – links in social media can also divert people to fraudulent sites. Christmas is therefore a time when your IT systems are at risk.

It is imperative that your virus protection and backups are up to date and tested to make sure they are working as they should be.

Reminding staff of your Acceptable Use policy and how they can use IT equipment for personal use is also advisable this time of year.

Ensure your IT systems are protected if you sell online

If you are a retailer selling online at Christmas you need to take additional steps to make sure your IT system is secure.

Make sure you have a secure e-commerce platform and that your customers’ data is protected to prevent hackers from being able to access your systems.

In addition you need to ensure your network has the capacity to handle orders. When sending out emails consider sending in batches so you don’t overload your website.

And of course it goes without saying to make sure your virus protection is up to data and that backups are happening and tested to make sure they are working as they should be.

The perils of Christmas parties

For many Christmas is a time to let your hair down and party.

Sadly there are stories of Christmas parties getting out of hand and employees taking to social media to vent anger or frustration. Once something has been published on social media it is in the public domain for good, even if a post has been deleted. Not only can this backfire on the employee it also has the potential to damage to your company’s reputation. This can also become a significant HR issue if it becomes a disciplinary or grievance issue.

Again reminding staff of your Acceptable Use policy may be advisable. As a business you may also want to consider reviewing your contracts of employment as well as disciplinary procedures.

Don’t forget your premises

Your physical premises can also be at increased risk this time of year if you have a greater than usual number of people in and out of the building.

If you have frequent visitors make sure your reception area is always manned and that staff are reminded of the importance of using security passes, locking the office correctly and ensuring IT equipment and personal belongings are stored securely.

Christmas can be the best time of year to undertake IT maintenance

But it’s not all bad news. Christmas is often a quieter time so can be a good time to consider regular maintenance or upgrades without causing major disruption to your business.

Our Staying Safe online guide is a great overview of protecting your business from IT risks.

And if you want to make sure you have the right protection we would be happy to review your systems and processes and provide you with the right IT support to keep your business information and hardware secure. 

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