10 cybersecurity steps to safeguard organisations during the holiday season

Mike Smith, Incident Response & Threat Intelligence Manager at Cyber & Fraud Centre Scotland

AS festivities commence, Cyber & Fraud Centre Scotland’s Mike Smith provides vital steps to fortify organisations against heightened cyber threats.

As the holiday season approaches, organisations face increased vulnerability to cyber threats due to reduced activity and potential lapses in vigilance. Cybercriminals exploit this window, targeting businesses with sophisticated attacks. Mike Smith, Incident Response & Threat Intelligence Manager at Cyber & Fraud Centre Scotland, outlines ten crucial steps to fortify cybersecurity during the holiday season.

  1. Educate Employees: Train staff to identify and thwart cyber attacks, emphasising common threats like phishing emails. Regular training sessions and resources like the ‘Introduction to Cyber Security‘ guide enhance awareness.
  1. Review and Update Incident Response Plan: Ensure the organisation’s incident response plan is current, covering roles, escalation procedures, legal requirements, and communication strategies. Download the ‘Cyber Incident Response Pack’ template if needed.
  1. Establish Staffing Coverage: Identify key contacts during the holiday period for incident response. Ensure accurate contact information is easily accessible.
  1. Coordinate with IT Providers: Confirm IT providers’ support and verify emergency contact information. Ensure service agreements are up-to-date.
  1. Secure Senior Management Engagement: Establish a process to contact senior leaders in case of an incident. Ensure someone with authority is available, streamlining communication to top executives.
  1. Secure Communication Channels: Identify and secure alternative communication channels in case primary systems are compromised. This includes secure messaging platforms, virtual meeting tools, or backup phone numbers.
  1. Enable Comprehensive Logging: Ensure systems log and record all network activity for security team analysis and threat response.
  1. Test Backup Procedures: Regularly test backup procedures for data integrity and recovery capabilities. Confirm backup times, responsible teams, and the existence of an air-gapped backup solution.
  1. Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Enforce MFA for added security, preventing unauthorised access even if passwords are compromised.
  1. Conduct Comprehensive Testing: Thoroughly test all security measures before the holiday season, encompassing the entire cybersecurity infrastructure.

By following these steps, organisations can significantly enhance their cybersecurity posture, reducing the risk of cyber attacks during the holiday season. Vigilance is crucial for data protection and business continuity throughout the year.

For additional resources, CyberScotland offers free guides, including the ‘Cyber Strategy for Small Organisations.’ If your organisation falls victim to cybercrime, contact the Cyber and Fraud Centre’s Incident Response helpline at 0800 1670 623 for advice.

Remember, cybersecurity remains a shared responsibility to safeguard valuable data and ensure business continuity.

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