With the Festive season approaching, properly backing up and protecting IT infrastructure and data are probably among the last things on non-IT people's minds. Experienced CIOs and IT administrators, however, know that theseneed to be a higher priority at this time of year, and the festive seasonholidays can be a dangerous time.
Unfortunately, with staff levels usually lower than normal during the holiday break and the black hat community inspired by people dropping their guard, Christmas and New Year can mean increased IT stress.
The holiday season is also a time when commonly an organisation's IT department might be at lower strength and more employees choose to work remotely, amplifying potential risks.
For others, such as those in the retail industry the festive season is a busy, peak business time. CIOs in this situation should ensure their systems have capacity to deal with likely spikes in traffic during the festive season. They should ensure there is enough storage space (disk) or media (tapes) for the likely increased activity.
Before staff takes their annual end of year holiday break, the wisest CIOs, who want to have an enjoyable break, will double-check their backup, disaster recovery (DR),anti-virus and IT security solutions, to ensure they are ready.
Back up, Security and DR recommendations
Here are some valuable recommendations from Global information protection expert Symantec, relating to festive season back up, DR planning and maintaining business continuity over the festive season holidays:
(1) Determine a list of highest risk areas most likely to experience a holiday emergency and ensure these receive appropriate staffing and attention during the festive season break.
(2) Larger companies should establish a designated Disaster Response Team, and a Holiday Emergency Plan, with clear, step by step actions that can be 'ticked off' as they are followed. Ensure there are enough staff on the DR Team and include a 'B' list of staff should members of the 'A' list remain uncontactable in a holiday emergency. Having a Plan B is always solid advice.
(3) Ensure that staff members are clear about the possible need to attend work should the Holiday Emergency Plan be activated. Document their contact numbers and emails for on-duty staff to have easy access.
(4) Put in process an escalation path for any incident outbreak to ensure smoother decision making and company operations.Plan, test and review the 'Holiday Emergency Plan' before the office shuts down for the festive season break. Always test at least one round of backup and recovery after any changes are made in configurations or policies, to ensure it works reliably.
(5) Although many organisations use the holiday break to install patches, upgrades and new systems, it is recommended that any system changes (password changes, configured updates) are minimised and carefully documented, because they could disrupt backup activities during the break.
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