Surging attacks and the cyber-skills gap have pushed security workforce to their limits, as the industry approaches the end of a long and tumultuous year in cybersecurity. As a result, many IT professionals will be looking forward to some well-deserved rest during the Christmas and New Year holidays.
As cybersecurity experts are well aware, cybercriminals do not take the holidays off. Organizations are significantly more vulnerable to ransomware attacks during weekends and holidays, according to a Cybereason report released in November “Organizations At Risk: Ransomware Attackers Don’t Take Holidays.” This is largely due to the lack of proper contingency plans in place during these times.
Organizations need to ensure that they have processes in place to keep themselves secure during the holiday season, especially if IT and security staff are unavailable. Here are four security precautions that businesses can take to keep themselves secure this holiday season.
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Lay out a clear holiday incident response plan
Before the holidays, security leaders should lay out a clear incident response plan for their teams to follow in the case of a breach. With fewer eyes on the network, it’s critical that everyone understands their responsibilities in the event that the site goes down or anomalous activity occurs. This should cover who is on duty, who is contacted in the event of an after-hours emergency, and how to communicate to staff and the leadership. While IT security teams deserve a holiday just as much as everyone else, it’s vital to have them on standby in case something goes wrong.
A monitoring strategy that is fully hands-off will not suffice, as dedicated teams will be required to assess alerts and investigate serious incidents. Companies will need to collaborate across departments to ensure that holiday preparations do not result in SOC coverage gaps, exposing enterprise infrastructure to attack.
Contextualize monitoring tools
To prevent disrupting holidays of employees and security leaders unnecessarily, clear regulations and awareness of the types of alerts that demand prompt action should be in place. To right-size their team’s response according to risk, security leaders should provide as much context as possible to monitoring systems.
Filtering monitoring notifications based on business needs should be done. This will help IT teams determine which threats are immediately actionable and which are not. This effort is made possible by adding context to the continuous monitoring tools. It helps in the filtering and prioritization of security alerts based on security policy, quantitative risk, and organizational compliance. Reducing white noise can help teams relax during the holidays and respond quickly to significant threats.
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Existing security measures should be audited and updated
Organizations can take a variety of steps to ensure that their current security procedures and tools are as effective as possible during the holidays. At its most basic level, this entails making sure their software is up to date with the latest patches.
A VPN audit is something that businesses can conduct, and it’s more vital now that more people are working remotely. IT teams should conduct a VPN audit to determine which devices are connecting to the VPN client effectively and which devices require additional assistance or security. IT teams can then engage with employees who are still having trouble connecting securely to the network to ensure that they can connect if needed throughout the holiday break. This is especially crucial to do before the holiday season, when IT teams are likely to be short-staffed.
Data should be backed up
With enterprises at a higher risk of a successful attack around the holidays, it’s even more important to have proper backup solutions in place to ensure they can quickly recover from a breach. This requirement is heightened by the rise in ransomware attacks, as having strong backups reduces the risk of having to pay an extortion demand.
Cybersecurity teams have been under a lot of pressure in recent years, and they deserve a respite for the holidays. Organizations must plan ahead of time to ensure this can happen without jeopardizing security; this includes anything from special processes for dealing with potential IT difficulties during this time to incorporating as much resiliency as possible into their systems before the holidays.
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