'Tis the season -- for holiday time off, extended trips, office parties... and security negligence. Time to tighten the defenses and clamp down on the user indulgences. No Grinch or Scrooge stuff here: Just a few tips for keeping your workplace systems and data safe, as well as merry and bright.As the holiday season moves into fuller swing, take some time to make sure the festivities aren't interrupted by security breaches that could have been avoided.
Here are a dozen holiday security tips to consider:
1. Disconnect computers whose users are going to be away from the office for more than a day or so. Not only safer than leaving them connected, but saves energy too, if your employees are in the habit of powering down rather than shutting off.
2. Reinforce remote security rules for employees who will be traveling with work and devices carrying data. Insure that materials are encrypted and the the devices are guarded by a full array of up-to-date A-V and other defenseware, as well as strong (and preferably new) passwords.
3. Work from home safely and securely. As with mobile devices holding business data, any employee's home systems that will be used (even theoretically) for work should be up-to-date with all defenses.
4. Watch the party-time computer hi jinks. Whether or not the computer has completely replaced the copier as party tech is hard to say, but be alert for prohibited and inappropriate content (hint: guys standing around a monitor and laughing) that a) has no business in your business, b) may be illegal and c) probably contains malware links. (Okay, maybe that one was a little Scrooge-esque, but that doesn't make it bad advice.)
5. Open greeting cards that come in the mail -- not in e-mail. The deluge of holiday malware holiday e-cards is larger than ever: Tell your employees to delete all without opening.
6. Social networks are more dangerous than ever, as this holiday-themed Facebook worm shows.
7. Want seasonal animations? Watch Charlie Brown on disc. The holiday animations and videos are prime malware fields.
8. Physical security is required for digital security. Low or no personnel presence in the workplace during the holiday season should prompt you to triple-check physical security including locks, alarm and surveillance systems. (Don't forget to test the smoke alarms.)
9. Remove removable media so that intruders can't. Disks, thumb drives, external storage devices -- anything easily grabbed should be removed to a secure remote location if your workplace is going to be closed for an extended period of time.
10. Make sure auto-updates are in-place and active. Systems that will be left running while you're away should be double-checked for effective auto-update authorizations before you depart.
11. Be careful with last minute online shopping. Same as with all online shopping -- but announcements of big holiday savings are a favorite phishing tactic this time of year. Warn your employees.
12. Be ready for the new digital goodies the employees will be bringing back, and attaching to your networks, after the holidays. This is a good time to add the device and endpoint monitoring tools you've been putting off.
Things can get hectic this time of year, but taking a breath and taking the time and (minimal) trouble to run through a security checklist -- and check it twice! -- can go a long way toward making your holidays less stressful and your business safer.