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The approach of winter, and the holiday season in the middle of it, means it's time for SMBs to take a few security steps, and implement a few security measures and practices aimed at keeping the chill away from your data and systems.

Keith Ferrell

November 5, 2010

3 Min Read

The approach of winter, and the holiday season in the middle of it, means it's time for SMBs to take a few security steps, and implement a few security measures and practices aimed at keeping the chill away from your data and systems.Changing seasons, I've written often, offer a calendar-convenient point for undertaking a regular review of your security practices and policies.

While the more frequently you keep an eye on your overall security posture the better, a seasonal approach at least guarantees that you'll take time to take a comprehensive look four times a year. And even though winter is officially still a few weeks away, now's a good time to begin planning your winter security checklist. Some of what you'll be looking at will come up every season: Endpoint protection in place, including patches All passwords changed All licenses for security products legitimate and up-to-date Access to data reviewed for actual business need Review of your written security and usage policy to see if updates/changes are needed Review -- with test, if practical -- of your Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity procedures and plans; at the very least, test a recent backup for viability And others, of course -- the basics of your security infrastructure, strategy and policy examined top-to-bottom. But some seasons bring additional challenges, and winter weather, in many parts of the country, is one of them Among the winter-specific and holiday-season items that should be on your advance security checklist are: Test of backup power supplies and generators if your region is susceptible to heavy storms and outages If your business takes on temporary workers during the holiday season, make advance plans for handling their logins and access-levels, as well as for shutting off their access when their temporary gig ends Plan in advance for holiday absences -- consider shutting off accounts if the employee will be away more than a few days Pass the word about holiday-related spam and scams Check physical security, including monitors and other easily-viewed sources of confidential information; this one's important every season, but during the holidays you may have more visitors in your business than at other times of the year Be ready for unexpected -- or unavoidable -- telecommutes; if your employees are weathered-in at home, and choose to work from there, be sure that their equipment and their connections match the security levels you've set in the workplace Be ready as well for the flu season that generally follows hard on the heels of the holidays and the arrival of deep winter; same rules and reviews for telecommuters at home with a cold as for those who are out of the office because of weather Taking a bit of time now to make sure your security and related procedures are up-to-date and in-place before winter arrives will make it far less likely that you'll be playing security catchup when the cold weather really hits.

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