The holidays are full of fun and family time, which can sometimes lead businesspeople to let their guards down. Unfortunately, this is the very reason bad actors tend to take advantage of businesses during the holiday season.
“There’s an increase in activity for cyber threats this time of year because hackers know that many people are not being as vigilant as they normally are,” says Jason Monroe, Director of Solution Consulting at Bit-Wizards. “By nature, we’re relaxed, we’re happy, and we don’t think anything can touch us.”
Monroe says hackers also take advantage of the fact that more people are traveling and working remotely over the holidays.
“Hackers are betting on the possibility that people might not have the same safeguards in place for their technology in the remote setting as they do in the office,” he explains.
This is why businesses are often at a greater risk of falling victim to IT security risks over the holidays.
“There’s still malware, ransomware, viruses, business email compromise; all the same threats are out there. Business doesn’t just stop during the holidays,” says Monroe. “It’s all digital, it’s all electronic. Even on Christmas Eve there might be funds flying back and forth between bank accounts through wires. It’s never a good time to let your guard down when it comes to IT.”
How to help protect your business from IT security risks over the holidays
Change your business passwords on a regular basis (yes, even through November, December, and January). It’s also important to make sure passwords are complex and not tied to any timely or popular events, occurrences, people, and activities that can be easily guessed.
2. Multi-factor authentication
If you haven’t already, start using multi-factor authentication (MFA). With the holidays, many businesses start buying gifts for employees or clients using company credit cards. Sites like Amazon (and others) allow you to set up MFA for purchases, reducing the risk of your business credit card being hacked or compromised. Additionally, do not approve MFA requests that come through on your cellphone or authenticator apps if you did not request them. If you continue getting these requests, this could be a sign that your password has been compromised.
Make sure that regular backups are happening on your work devices. Whether it’s to an external hard drive or the cloud, you must ensure that backups are continuing to occur even when you’re out of the office over the holidays.
Don’t click on links you don’t recognize. End of story. An even better rule of thumb is to avoid clicking on links that come through email or text messages, period. If it’s a legitimate link, you can visit the site directly to check the update, alert, or message, rather than relying on the email or text message for delivery.
No public wi-fi is “safe,” therefore, you should avoid using it at all costs (most smartphones have hotspots these days). However, if you must use public wi-fi at any point while traveling or working remotely over the holidays, use a virtual private network (VPN) software to protect your data from cyber threats.
6. IT partners
Partnering with a managed service provider (MSP) can help give your business peace of mind at holiday time. An MSP will make sure your VPN connections are in place, backups are conducted regularly, anti-virus software is up-to-date, and more. A managed service provider will also provide you with secure productivity tools, so all your documents and files will be stored in the cloud—safe, secured, backed up, and accessible.
Stay vigilant with your IT security over the holidays
“The reason hackers increase their attempts and attacks this time of year is because it works,” says Monroe. “Time and time again, these bad actors have more success during the holiday season when people are out of the office and have let their guards down.”
Monroe says a managed services provider can take a huge load off you and your business.
“A company like Bit-Wizards is anticipating risks and threats and we’re working to prevent these things from happening,” explains Monroe. “We’re paying attention and we’re proactively taking steps to make sure your business is safe and you’re able to enjoy your holiday.”
Ready to get peace of mind at holiday time with our Managed IT Services? Learn more.