Cybersecurity tips for businesses to prepare for the next holiday period

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Christmas and the new year has now been and gone, however, for business owners, the holiday period can provide unwanted stress due to increases in cybersecurity attacks with hackers targeting businesses during this vulnerable time.

Companies such as Aurora and Amey, are examples of firms that have been reported as victims of cyberattacks during the holiday period in 2020.


IT Support company, Westgate IT, look at the top cybersecurity tips for firms for the next holiday period to minimize the chance of a cyber attack.

1. Develop an Effective Disaster Recovery Plan

One of the main issues during the festive period is the deployment of a skeleton staff, as many employees take holidays and spend more time out of the office.

With this in mind, one of the first steps that retailers should take to ease their burden on their remaining staff members is to impose a clear and effective disaster recovery plan in the event of a cyber attack.

This would look to restore systems and recover sensitive consumer data in case of an attack, enabling programs to stay online without compromising on the safety of personal and financial information.

You’ll need to work directly with your solution provider or hosting partner to develop and implement a viable recovery plan, and one that can prevent your skeleton staff from being bombarded with the opinions of unhappy customers!

2. Only Allow for Registered Users to Process Checkouts 

If you’ve ever shopped online, you’ll know that a rising number of online websites often enable customers to checkout as a guest.

However, this may be considered an open door to fraud by sophisticated cyber thieves, so we’d recommend removing this as an option and instead requiring customers to register for an official account.

From here, it’s also worth utilizing two-factor authentication (2FA) for all online user passwords, as this provides your customers with an additional layer of protection when browsing or completing purchases.

Similarly, it’s worth making sure that all passwords are encrypted and hashed, as you should leave no stone unturned when looking to safeguard your consumers and employees.

3. Get an External Security Audit Done Ahead of Time

Even if you have an in-house IT team, it’s important to note that there’s a world of difference between information technology and cybersecurity, so you’ll need to work with specialists when securing your individual systems.

This is a positive step for both your customers and your holiday team, as otherwise you’ll run the risk of exposing them to potential cyber thieves and leaving your staff with issues that they’re ill-equipped to cope with.

Also, you shouldn’t assume that your hosting provider is updated on the latest patches or in possession of updated PCI compliance, as it’s your duty as an entrepreneur to ensure that those within your business are protected.

So, why not invest in an external security audit of your website and online systems ahead of the festive period, in order to identify any potential issues and ensure that hackers are prevented from targeting your business?

Make no mistake; there are plenty of agencies that specialize in this, while the cost of securing this type of service pales when compared to the potential long-term savings when preventing a cyber attack.

4. Don’t Store Sensitive Data (Unless it’s Absolutely Necessary)

We’ve already touched on how employees can become overwhelmed by customer queries in the event of a cyber attack, and this can have a significant impact on productivity and morale over time.

With this in mind, you’d ideally want to avoid making your employees responsible for handling huge swathes of sensitive consumer data, and this can be avoided by refusing to store such information unless it’s absolutely necessary.

In instances where there is a pressing need to store or organize sensitive customer data, you’ll need to utilize a very strong level of encryption that provides adequate protection at all times.

Similarly, we’d recommend educating your employees on the importance of cybersecurity in the digital age, so that they can take further steps to protect consumers and safeguard data on a fundamental level.

Overall, following this process is also beneficial for consumers, as their most sensitive data won’t be kept on file without the necessary safeguards being in place.

5. Secure Your Networks Behind a Strong Firewall

Regardless of the size or scale of your business venture, it’s absolutely imperative that your networks are secured behind a strong and robust firewall.

The reason for this is simple; as firewalls can actively prevent dangerous websites or suspicious downloads from being carried out before they even reach employees’ or users’ computers.

This enables you to adopt a proactive approach as an entrepreneur, and one that’s focused on stopping cybertheft rather than dealing with the subsequent fallout.

To secure your data effectively, try to identify the best and most efficient firewall, by comparing the market in detail and finding a solution that suits your business’s precise needs.