Summer is a time to relax, take a few days away from the office and not think about work. As you pack your bags with all the items you need for your well-deserved vacation – sunscreen, toothbrush, sunglasses, etc. and lock the door to keep your house safe – don’t forget to also keep your business data safe. Cybercriminals are counting on the fact that you have vacation-brain and aren’t paying attention to what you are doing as you catch up on work between swimming, tanning and naps.
More than 77 percent of employees will work on vacation and only 23 percent of those workers are using secure company networks. If work follows you or your employees on vacation, make sure the devices used – cell phones, laptops, flash drives – are protected from cybercrime, hackers, malware and viruses.
In a recent report by Expedia, even when employees do take time off, more than half stay plugged in, responding to work emails and checking in at the office during their vacation. More than 61 percent of respondents admitted “checking in” would actually help them enjoy their vacations more than not checking at all. So what does this mean for you as a small business owner?
Risk and Vulnerabilities.
Every employee who accesses company data from an unprotected device puts your entire business at risk. Whether accessing email through an unsecure (FREE) network or downloading from unsecure sources, vulnerabilities surface which provide opportunities to cybercriminals trying to compromise your business. Here are some dos and don’ts to help ensure you have a worry-free – and secure – vacation:
- DO make sure all employees are educated about company security policies and possible ways computers and mobile devices can be compromised by cyber criminals.
- DON’T log on to local or free Wi-Fi networks. They may seem convenient, however, they leave computers and mobile devices vulnerable to “man in the middle” attacks, in which hackers steal information sent over the Internet, including usernames and passwords; steal files and identity information; or infest your computer with malware that allows them to stealthily access your device in the future.
- DO install 360 degree security software on all company and personal devices that access or store important company data. McAfee Endpoint Protection Suites are great examples of comprehensive security solutions managed by a single web console that unifies 17 technologies to proactively protect all of your devices — PCs, Macs, Linux systems, smartphones, virtual machines, tablets, and servers, from all threat vectors – web, email and endpoint.
- DON’T access the company network without a virtual private network (VPN) in place. With a VPN employees can securely access your company intranet and network resources, even when they are not physically on the local area network (traveling, working from home, etc..) A VPN secures your computer’s Internet connection, making sure all sent and received information is safe from cyber criminals by using a combination of encryption and / or a dedicated connection.
- DO put in place computer and mobile device security policies, such as guidelines regarding strong passwords, avoiding suspicious websites and links within emails and minimizing use of social media sites.
- DON’T forget that security should always be a priority for everyone within the organization. Don’t scrimp by purchasing the cheapest product; invest in a 360 solution that protects your business, your customers and your employees from all avenues of attack; schedule annual security trainings for employees; and leverage educational resources available on security vendor websites to stay on top of the latest in cyber attacks.
The pervasive use of technology in our day-to-day lives, and popularity of bring-your-own-device (BYOD), ties our personal and work lives more closely than ever before – especially on vacation. Many of us will use the same device to access confidential company information and later play online games, surf the web and post on social media sites on our summer vacations. Cybercriminals count on human and device vulnerabilities to provide them with a point of access to your data, and summer vacation is full of distraction and opportunity. Stop them in their tracks by putting in place proper security precautions and establishing policies and practices to guide employees in their day-to-day work and personal cyber activities.
Don’t forget to lock the door to cybercriminals on your way out… and enjoy your summer vacation.