Unique Threats to IT Infrastructure in the Winter

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Winter is coming. Sorry, we had to say it, but like the GoT quote implies there’s more than snowflakes and below 0°C temperatures to be concerned with. For businesses, the season brings a unique set of threats to IT systems and infrastructure, those that can have a direct impact the health of your bottom line. The implications are especially dire for companies that experience significant seasonal fluctuations and can’t afford to take a hit to operations around the winter solstice. Today, we’re going to identify some of the key risks that rise at this time of the year so that you can better prepare for what may come.

 

3 Winter Season Events That Threaten the Health of Your IT Systems

 

Holiday Season Hacks

 

While cyber crime is certainly not seasonal, it does ramp up during the holidays as hoards of consumers and businesses alike increase online spending and activity while neglecting to exercise appropriate caution. From Black Friday and Cyber Monday through to the close of Boxing Week hacking peaks, with studies showing an over 20 percent increase in attempted cyber attacks during the holiday season. Simply put, the increase in spending is logically followed by an increase in cyber crime. Hackers go where the money goes.

 

Another concern for businesses here, is that IT staff is so focused on keeping online operations functioning (site uptime, order processing, etc.) through high-traffic periods to maximize holiday revenues that they ease up on security. Cyber criminals are better able to execute malware and/or conduct fraud knowing that it may go undetected until well after the seasonal IT strain abates. By then, the damage is done.

 

And that’s the catch. During a time of the year that cyber security should be at it’s most vigilant, it tends to be the opposite as IT resources focus elsewhere. Don’t let this happen to your company. Instead, update your cyber security protocol by moving critical data to the cloud and supplement your antivirus subscriptions with tools that apply artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to predict and prevent execution of advanced threats and malware at the endpoint. Learn more on how to prepare for holiday season cyber crime (Kirk, publish the Holiday Season cyber crime article and link to it accordingly).

 

It’s important to note that the threat doesn’t just flatline once the flurry of holiday season activity subsides. In fact, hackers know that many businesses take their foot off of the gas when it comes to cyber security post NYE and are looking to prey accordingly. Carry your recently updated and more robust IT security protocol into the new year through the winter and into the remaining seasons. To do this, secure the services of a Managed Services Provider (MSP) that offers advanced end-point threat protection backed by artificial intelligence, and more.

 

IT (and Business) Interruption During Harsh Winter Weather Events

 

When most people hear IT disaster, they immediately think of a data breach. However, there’s a threat that has been delivering business interruption since the beginning of time and it has its eyes on IT systems given the reliance on electrical power. Yes indeed, weather remains to be of significant concern for businesses, especially in the winter in Canada where climate change is becoming quite evident. And yes, it’s a real threat. FORBES has laid out 900 examples of how climate change affects business, and while we won’t be listing them here today, we will highlight one key point - climate trends are increasingly impacting IT operations. Weather events are the leading source of grid outages which has a direct impact on your company’s ability to remain online, connected, and running operations. The more interruption your business faces, the greater insurance premiums to boot, compounding the financial stress.

 

To mitigate this risk, businesses are moving both data and workload to the cloud so that information resources and projects can be accessed from anywhere and anytime, reducing the reliance on the shop, office, and/or warehouse to service customers/clients. This is an important part of the more robust disaster recovery plan that your business needs to prepare, but it may not be enough. That’s why one of the fastest growing segments in the industry is disaster recovery (DR) as a service. A DR service provider can manage cloud migration, data backups, testing, software and hardware updates, and everything else (related) that will ensure business continuity no matter what mother nature throws your way this winter.

 

Seasonally Absent IT Personnel

 

Statistics show that seasonal illnesses such as colds and flus continue to top the list of reasons for workplace absenteeism. The season these most commonly occur, is the winter. And while they like to think they’re superhuman, IT personnel are not isolated from the illnesses that take down the “common” man/woman at this time of the year, not by any means. Then there are the statutory holidays of the season which may force your business to cut back on hours, even if in the wrong places. Factor in the fact that staff puts in requests for vacation days to spend with family through the holidays and you have a trifecta threat to your IT staffing needs. Long story short, relying on in-house staff to keep an eye on the resource strain of seasonal activity/traffic and increased risk of cyber crime may not be enough. This is why you need to consider an MSP that offers a solution you need to supplement your unique IT staffing capabilities. The MSP should offer fully managed, co-managed, and custom managed solutions to fill the gaps, at the very least during the time of the year you need it most.

As you can see, while there are very real winter season threats to your IT infrastructure, there is a clear solution to each. Contact Fully Managed Inc today to discuss what we can do for you.