The holiday season is here! And with it comes (hopefully) a much-needed break from business stress.
While you’re drinking hot cocoa, wrapping presents and lounging by the fireplace, the last thing you want to think about is the state of your company. But, of course, it’s hard not to.
We all know that the ultimate dream is to shut down our laptops on Dec. 23 and leave them until the new year, but this can be unrealistic for many companies. In addition to standard business responsibilities, the holiday season is notorious for malicious targeting by hackers. On top of that, we all know how difficult and uncomfortable it can be to reach your IT team or other team members during the holiday break to mitigate any platform or hardware issues. So, if you don’t have a solid grip on your cybersecurity and network presence, it can be hard to walk away from the computer.
All these threats and responsibilities can make us feel like we should be chained to our computers more than ever. Luckily, there are many cybersecurity tools and managed services to leverage during the holidays that can hold down the fort as you sink into the holiday spirit!
Your Pre-Holiday Cybersecurity Checklist
Of course, the #1 resource at your disposal is preparation! Planning for the holiday season will be your best tool for minimizing the time you need to spend on your business during the holidays. Anything you do now is something you don’t have to do later — so set yourself up for success.
Tips for going into the holidays:
- Understand the current hacking trends and strategies this season. Understanding how a malicious actor may attempt to gain access to your system will help you build your plan around avoiding cybersecurity mistakes. For example, a hacker may try social engineering during a busy holiday rush to catch an overworked employee by surprise and get a computer password. Having your team understand and follow the protections in place to tamp down on social engineering will cut off that channel for cyberattacks.
- Make sure everyone understands any responsibilities they hold during the holiday break. Some people can fully log off, but others may need to check in throughout the vacation. Identifying who has which responsibilities will minimize unnecessary communication and time spent trying to sort out last-minute issues once the holidays start. A great way to execute this is with a roadmap or checklist and assigning relevant people tasks to take the question mark out of who handles what.
- Set up managed services or cybersecurity tools with enough time to work out any kinks before in-house IT teams log off for the year. This will ensure you have a streamlined system for the holiday break.
- How many of your team members regularly update their passwords? Say goodbye to any remaining “MyBusiness2016!” passwords! Now is a great time to get a consistent password-updating schedule in place! Update your passwords before you log off for the break for extra protection before the holidays. Having fresh and strong passwords for every team member’s account is a great way to head into the holidays with maximum protection.
- Do a pre-holiday scan of the current status of your network with enough time to solve any issues that have flown under the radar. Confirming that you are entering the holidays with a secure and clean system will ensure you’re confident and informed during the holiday season.
Here are some cybersecurity tools and managed services that will come in handy over the holiday break.
Network monitoring is the eyes and ears of your digital system when you’re not around. When something is wrong (or about to be wrong), dependable network monitoring will identify the problem and notify essential personnel with the necessary information to mitigate the issue.
During the holidays, this is an essential tool for those who want to log off as much as possible and only tackle critical issues that could significantly impact your system. In addition, network monitoring ensures that your team can rely on the automated aspects of the resource to save your system from downtime or data loss and create a better overall user experience for employees and clients alike.
The last thing you want to find out after a pleasant and relaxing holiday is that a malicious actor found their way into your system. And with fewer eyes on your network during the holidays, hackers could have a lot of time to wreak havoc before the right people notice it.
Enter: Two-factor authentication! Enabling this extra guard against unwanted logins will require anyone logging onto one of your platforms or applications to complete an extra level of authentication before logging in, usually requesting a code sent to a trusted email, phone number or device.
Microsoft has estimated that this simple additional protection protects companies from a whopping 99% of hacker login attempts. Those are some fantastic stats from one easy-to-enable tool!
The studies don’t lie. Companies that use proactive maintenance experience an average of 30% fewer maintenance costs, 75% fewer breakdowns and 40% less unplanned downtime. In other words, all of the issues you don’t want to deal with during a holiday vacation.
Robust proactive maintenance services ensure your system is firing on all cylinders. This includes confirming hardware is functioning correctly, identifying malicious activity, updating essential platforms, providing the most current antivirus databases are enacted to all clients in your network and more.
The best part during the holidays? Some maintenance service providers are flexible and available 24/7 in line with your business requirements, so you can plan a maintenance update before the holidays begin.
Effective Voice Services
Do you expect client calls to come in during the holidays? Having reliable voice services allows clear, dependable calls whether you’re answering from the office or grandma’s house. VoIP services only need a Wi-Fi connection to offer the same benefits for all your call-receiving team members, regardless of where they are.
And if your team is not accepting calls over the holiday season, voice services can also track missed calls in one simple yet powerful communications system so you can reach out when your team is back online.
Cloud Storage Management
Are you planning on getting a few projects done over the holidays? A robust cloud storage management system ensures you have all of the data, files and resources you need to be productive from anywhere.
Quality cloud computing services include delivering computing services like servers, backup, storage, networking and software applications over the internet, so all efficiency-maximizing services can be enacted remotely.
Not only is this a helpful resource for team members all over the map, but it’s also an incredibly secure data storage strategy, so you can enter your holiday break confident your data is safe and easily accessible.
Virtual Desktop Options
Like cloud storage, a virtual desktop will confirm that you can take care of your holiday tasks from anywhere.
Virtual desktops offer excellent security because no data is stored or saved locally; all information is stored centrally under the control of the cloud services administrator. Users can log in from anywhere and experience the same desktop with all applications in the same state as when the user last logged out.
This leads to easier collaboration and levels the playing field for in-office and remote workers. Those benefits amplify when people travel to friends and family for the holidays.
24/7 Help Desk
Even during the holidays, things happen. All the preparation in the world can’t confirm with 100% certainty that something won’t go wrong with your system over the holidays. And if it does, the last thing you want to be doing is trying to track down help to fix the crisis. With a 24/7 help desk in your back pocket, you always have access to a dedicated team of IT experts that can efficiently tackle the issue at hand.
When you feel out of your wheelhouse or your in-house IT team is taking a well-deserved vacation, a dedicated team of experts can feel like a lifeline.
When you work with experts who can implement an efficient and robust incident response plan, the chances of crises leading to website downtime, permanent data loss or breaches are greatly minimized.
Rely on the Professionals — We Can Help
A long list of security measures and responsibilities can help protect your company from many disasters, but sometimes problems are unavoidable. When disaster strikes, it can be overwhelming to take it all on internally. MDL can handle your entire cybersecurity plan for the holidays, so you can rest easy knowing your sensitive info is in good hands.
Many assume that outsourcing their technology needs comes with a hefty price tag. However, with affordable solutions for businesses of all sizes and industries, MDL Technology is there for your IT needs every step of the way. Contact us today to learn more.