With summer right around the corner, many of your network users probably have trips and vacations planned. For you, this season means a variety of upcoming pockets of network activity downtime. Any changes to the activity level on your network carries a risk. Here are some tips for maintaining network security through any holiday season.

Maintain Network Backups, Updates, Antivirus Definitions, and Patching

Maintaining the security and integrity of your company’s network during holidays and times when many employees are likely to take vacations is essential. Make sure that you have at least one dedicated member of the IT department who can perform the regularly scheduled antivirus updates, patching, backups, and updates to the network during these periods.

Don’t Allow Users to Connect to Shared Networks While They Are on Vacation

Many public places offer free Wi-Fi, but do not allow your network users to connect to them. Instead, your users should always use virtual private network tunnels to connect to the network when they are away from the office. Public Wi-Fi is notorious for being unsecure, so consider disabling automatic connections on employees’ devices (for example, Bluetooth). If your company has a bring your own device policy that allows employees to use their own personal devices on the corporate network, consider a mobile device management solution to help monitor those devices and all other mobile activity on the network.

Enforce Two-Factor Authentication

Many businesses require network users to enable two-factor authentication (2FA), such as a token card and a strong password. Requiring 2FA adds another layer of security to your network, making it more difficult for malicious hackers to gain access to your users’ accounts. It’s also a great way to control access to sensitive data.

Disable Old Accounts

If you have any employees on short-term or long-term disability, disable their accounts. Employees returning from a long business trip should be forced to change their password; similarly, if an employee is taking a leave of absence or going on a particularly long vacation, disable their account. You may already have a policy in place to disable inactive accounts after 90 days, but if not, this is a great time to implement one. The longer an active account goes unused, the greater the risk of attack.

Educate Users About Automatic Email Replies

Out-of-office notifications are fine if a network user is going to be out of the office for a short vacation, but longer out-of-office notifications should be restricted. If possible, network users should notify other departments or coworkers of their extended absence ahead of time. Cyber-criminals can use out-of-office notifications to prepare an attack or impersonate the individual who’s away. Network administrators should remain on high alert in these scenarios because attackers will assume that holidays are a distraction and strike when and where they can.

Anthony Ortega

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