How to Prep Your Small Business for Time Off Around the Holidays

The holiday vacation season is here, and with that comes some much-needed downtime for just about everyone. While it can be challenging for small business owners to take time off away from the business, the second half of December typically sees a lull in action for many industries, making it the perfect opportunity to spend time with family or to escape the hustle and bustle. Whether your business has a physical location or exists in a more virtual marketplace, the team at LibertyID hopes that you enjoy some quality time with loved ones and that you get to celebrate the season however you may choose. 

To spread a little holiday cheer by supporting some added peace of mind, the goal of this post is to provide some tips on preparing your small business for time off around the holidays with cybersecurity in mind. These tips aren’t necessarily holiday season-specific, so consider them whenever you want to step away from the daily grind with less worry related to data breaches, business identity fraud, and other cyberattacks. But running through them quickly this week might just help you to catch a minor problem to prevent it from becoming a full-scale issue when things are back in action after the new year. 

  1. Have a Response Plan in Place

Every small and medium-sized business out there should have a response plan in place. If you don’t, time is of the essence to make this happen before you step away for a vacation. A response plan will better help you deal with a cybersecurity incident when it occurs and can save you from many headaches and hard times along the way. Knowing the steps to take when the worst happens is essential in today’s cyber landscape, and a bit of preparation goes a long way with that in mind. 

Data security planning and response services are highly recommended as these walk your business through every needed step of the cybersecurity dilemma. Not only can these services prepare your business for a data breach or other threat event, but they also give you expert assistance to deal with post-breach issues such as regulatory responses and customer notifications.     

  1. Backup Data

Your business data is extremely valuable, making it a constant target for cybercriminals and threat actors. Whenever a cyberattack or data breach occurs, whatever information your business stores on customers, employees, or anything and anyone else is at risk of being stolen and held for ransom or released on the dark web or other dubious digital places. Backing up all of your data regularly can help you better navigate and prepare for a slowdown around the holidays, and frequent backups are a general best practice. 

If you have yet to back up your business data recently, do that today. And then make this a part of your regular preparation and planning routine. Multiple backups in multiple locations are also a good idea (think one on a hard drive and one in the cloud) so that you have a backup to your backup if needed. Your data is critical to business operations, so ensure that you have it backed up!

  1. Updates and MFA

Similar to a regular data backup plan, you should also regularly update any software or devices your business uses often. This includes security software, computer and cell phone operating systems, and anything else that might present an entry point for criminals. Updates can provide critical security patches and help to limit the risk of specific attacks a device or software might be susceptible to. Checking and performing updates is simple, so you should make it part of a consistent plan. 

Multi-factor authentication, or MFA, is another recommended step you should take within your business’s digital dealings. This can help reduce the risk of fraud by requiring two or more steps to gain access to a network or account. Most commonly used programs and apps that small businesses deal with offer MFA, so be sure to set this up before checking out for the holidays. 

  1. Keep Employees Educated and Informed

Your employees are a first line of defense against cyberattacks, but they are often unaware of this. That makes education and training critical towards preparing your business for time away. This is another best practice that should be revisited regularly to ensure that every employee understands the ongoing cybersecurity issues that exist and what they can do to reduce the risk of these threats in the workplace. 

Some ideas for training topics include avoiding any suspect downloads or links, how to spot phishing emails, using strong passwords with MFA, and the importance of customer data and how that relates to the success of a business. But there really isn’t a specific right or wrong way to improve employee awareness regarding cybersecurity. Unfortunately, employees and their internal communications tools within a business are often the leading cause of data breaches. You can’t even hope to fix this issue unless those employees realize that, so taking the time to properly educate them is critical.  

  1. Avoid the “Away from Office” Auto-Response

We’ve all seen those auto-response messages appear from a colleague or client who is “away from the office” and won’t be available until whatever date. As common or necessary as this might seem when you want to take time away, it’s actually not a great idea with cybersecurity in mind. When threat actors find out that you aren’t actively engaged with your business, they can see your business as an easier target. 

This issue can be compounded if you include any other personal information in an autoresponder. If you feel compelled to generate one while you’re out, never have the details of where or why you are away. Criminals are crafty and can use this to make targeted attempts at identity fraud. Auto-responses might seem like a best practice in terms of responsibility, but they aren’t worth it with big-picture data security and fraud prevention in mind.  

LibertyID provides full-service, fully-managed identity fraud restoration to its subscribers. With a 100% success rate in resolving all 31+ forms of identity fraud. LibertyID Business Solutions provides Business fraud remediation, full pre-breach preparation with custom WISP protocols, post-breach regulatory response, customer, and employee identity fraud restoration management, advanced employee training, and third-party vendor management tools.