Tis the season to do some cybersecurity cleanup for your business’s computer system. What, you aren’t thrilled about getting started, so you’re ho-humming instead of ho-ho-hoing? Well, you may feel a bit more cheerful once you clear the tinsel webs out of the way by starting your own cybersecurity holiday cleanup checklist.
Besides, knowing that you are shoring up your system to get through the holidays without any data breaches and that could damage your customers and your reputation is probably good enough reason.
Grinches, also known as cybercriminals, will be out in full force to revel in the holiday season in their own nefarious ways, looking for vulnerabilities to sneak into everyone’s system, including yours.
Get Started on Your Cybersecurity Holiday Cleanup Checklist Now for a Joyous and Incident-free Season
You don’t have to fall prey to hackers’ plans, plots and schemes this year, as long as you have a plan in place.
Our own team of IT security elves has come up with a cybersecurity holiday checklist. This merry-making team features a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and a Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), and together, they have come up with a handy and highly proactive cybersecurity holiday cleanup checklist.
We believe yule love this list, and it may be just the inspiration you need to help you kick off the season with confidence.
1. Update and Upgrade Everything with the Latest Jingle Bells and Whistles
Cybercriminals work overtime during the holiday season, scouring your system’s gateways, looking for the smallest vulnerability to sneak their way in. Unfortunately, older versions of hardware, software and anything else are classic infiltration zones.
It’s time to take a look at everything. If something is out of date, it is time to treat your company the necessary update or upgrade, or else you might just end up with a lump of coal.
Outdated hardware is a huge vulnerability for today’s businesses.
Take your payment terminals as one example: any time that a credit card is swiped for payment, the customer’s data becomes vulnerable; particularly if the merchant is still using outdated payment hardware and gateways. If you have outdated payment hardware, or any other outdated hardware, now is the time to upgrade.
Following are additional hardware pieces to inspect:
Point-of-Sale terminals that use the new “smart chip” reader to ensure fraud coverage
With any necessary upgrades and updates in place, notes the Huffington Post, you can greatly reduce security flaws, thwarting holiday hackers and shutting them down at the gateway to your workshop.
If you are using older software versions, which no longer receive updates and are known as “end-of-life” software or devices like Windows XP or Windows Server 2003, it is time to upgrade. No matter how great those programs were a decade ago, they are simply not safe for your operating environment now.
In addition to your desktop and laptop computers, remember your employees’ mobile device apps while attending to the software portion of your holiday checklist. If your staff members regularly use smartphones or tablets for work tasks, make sure to update—or ask them to update—their devices for the latest system upgrades and minor updates to help prevent any type of infiltration.
Other Devices and Features to Consider Updating and Upgrading
There are just a few more devices and system features to add to your list:
Old and outdated browsers often contain security holes. New browser versions are easy to find, download and install, and they are much faster and more secure.
Go over all wireless networks and access points to make sure there are no rogue devices camped out. Put password policies in place, or simply tighten up existing policies to ensure everything is being strictly followed during the busy season.
2. Check Your IT Security for Holiday Headaches
This item on your checklist is fairly standard and classic for very good reason. You probably consider it “IT Security 101” to manage your antivirus and firewall tools daily, but it is crucial to keep everything running smoothly over the holidays. Take a deeper look at your IT security:
Your network traffic is likely to be far higher than usual, which makes it critically important that your firewall, or packet filter, is working on all cylinders to sort out the good traffic from the bad.
How solid is your antivirus? Is it ready for a season’s worth of hacker’s antics? Make sure you have the best quality antivirus and that you set up regular update checks throughout the season.
3. Put a Bow on Your Holiday Password Concerns with a Thorough Audit
Password management is one of the toughest areas for IT to wrap up with a nice neat bow for the holidays, but with vigilance; we’ll all beat this thing yet.
In the meantime, we’ll all do our best to prevent and contain the issues that arise.
One promising strategy includes using a “password manager” tool that your employees can load onto their desktop. A few password management options include LastPass and Dashlane. These tools remind employees to periodically update passwords. They also require them to create a strong password, according to your company’s standards.
Additionally, check to make sure that employees do not have too much access to sensitive networks or data.
4. A Clear Computing System Brings Peace on Earth…Well, at Least Peace for Your Organization
It’s rare that we recommend “losing” anything when it comes to anything in the realm of IT, but in this case; we make an exception.
Review unused apps. You know, those apps you thought had so much potential, but once you downloaded it, you never used them?
Remind your staff to take a look at any unused apps then release them back into the wild. Everything will run more smoothly, which is the best present at all at Christmas time for busy IT teams.
5. Review Any Relevant Regulations and Laws for Compliance
Security Week notes that, if you are performing everything else on your checklist, you will probably be in compliance, but it never hurts to make sure. Reviewing regulations might even prompt you to check something you might have left off of your list.
6. Set Up a Workshop for Your Own Elves to Stay Vigilant and Prepared for Seasonal Cybersecurity Dangers
No matter how experienced your employees are—even during the holidays—it never hurts to add in a holiday training workshop to help everyone up their game for the busy and risk-rich season.
7. Check the Chimney with Care, Along with the Rest of Your Brick and Mortar Office Space to Tighten Your On-Site Security
Real-world technology theft is still a consideration, no matter how easy it is to forget that. While you are busy managing your network and the cloud, you don’t want to walk into your office one morning to see a bank of computers has disappeared.
In 2014, Becker’s Health IT & CIO Review released a report of several data breaches due to hardware theft where million patients and other parties were affected.
All industries, including retail, manufacturing and finance can fall prey to real life Scrooges. Stay vigilant and implement security controls, such as installing security cameras at building exits and limiting access to key areas for daytime activity.
For nights and weekends, hire a security guard—particularly over the holidays—and insist that anyone working late sign a special log book or swipe their access card when coming in or exiting for time stamp proof.
Finally, secure your building’s entryways, as well as windows and any other possible points of entry.
8. Call in an IT Security Team for Help Ticking Off Every Item on Your IT Security Holiday Checklist
Call in reinforcements to perform a full-scale threat assessment on your system to unearth any possible risks, threats and vulnerabilities lurking under the surface. This team will check your firewalls and encryption settings and will run a full anti-virus scan to make sure all of your security software is up-to-date.
Our IT Security Team Can Help You Sail Through the Holidays by Reducing the Risk of IT Security Incidents
At I.S. Partners, LLC., our team understands the extra stress, as well as joy and potential profits, that accompanies the holiday season. We are here to help you dash through the holidays with our checklist, or we can come in and run through the list ourselves to give you an objective perspective on all of your cybersecurity concerns.
Want this Checklist For Your Team?
Want to skip over all the fluff and give your cybersecurity team the bare-bones checklist? You’ve got it. Follow the link below to download our simple 8-item checklist that will save you time this holiday season!