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The complete holiday security checklist for CISOs

CISO Cybersecurity

While the looming threat to cybersecurity exists all year round, the demand for businesses and their CISOs to employ all means necessary to stay vigilant has never been more critical. A recent study suggests that a global average of 58% of businesses felt that the absence of CISOs and other employees physically present in the workplace resulted in a sharp increase in targeted network attacks

CISO Security

This is majorly why the holiday season especially witnesses a higher volume of attacks because most enterprises operate during this time at a diminished workforce capacity. Problematically, when CISOs are amongst the vacationing employees, it could result in businesses combating any potential breaches with significantly less effectiveness. 

The intent behind highlighting these problems isn’t to deter CISOs from going on their respective vacations but to provide them with a robust holiday security checklist to enable their business to defend itself even during their absence.

The post-holiday CISO checklist

The best way to prevent holiday network breaches is to look back at your systems and their performance against threats over the previous year. This information gives CISOs insights into prior attacks, their system impact, and root cause. 

By conducting assessments and evaluations of the past year’s security posture, you can leverage this knowledge to effectively devise procedures, apply updates & patches, and tweak processes to prevent future attacks. 

Check security events on critical systems

Critical security events are those where attackers breach a system and attempt to or successfully make any changes. It is crucial for CISOs to regularly keep on the lookout for any security compromises that could potentially lead to these events and wreak significant harm to the network. 

Keeping yourself and your teams updated on current cybersecurity trends and recent cyber criminal activities is an excellent way to be aware of all existing and emerging attack vectors. 

This knowledge also allows you to employ the right processes, procedures, and other means necessary to strengthen your system, firewalls, and safeguards to identify and mitigate any new critical security events that arise while you’re on holiday.

Check for new vulnerabilities

Most vulnerabilities arise from misconfigurations, system design flaws, malware, social engineering attacks, and ransomware.

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The good news is that cybersecurity experts make painstaking efforts to keep security scanning tools and databases updated with all the existing and new threats that are plaguing business systems. 

Here are some of the top vulnerability databases you can consider:

  • NVC (National Vulnerability Database)
  • CVE (Common Vulnerabilities And Exposures)
  • OVAL (Open Vulnerability And Assessment Language)
  • National Council of ISACs
  • VulnDB (Vulnerability intelligence Database)
  • DISA IAVA Database And STIGS
  • OVAL (Open Vulnerability And Assessment Language)
  • SecurityTracker
  • National Council of ISACs

An excellent way to stay protected is periodically checking these databases to trace any new vulnerabilities.

Review product changes

When your systems are updated to improve your security posture against the latest threats, you should always keep tabs on the changelogs and update timelines. This information tracks how the update fared against threats and helps you identify any new problems that may result from a bad patch. 

In many situations, updates containing new features and functionalities sometimes have bugs and vulnerabilities that may create a new attack surface for even the most secure systems. 

If you are not available for work for an extended period, refrain from engaging in any significant updates to your Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) or Managed Detection and Response Systems (MDR). These updates can wait until the holidays have passed and you are back from vacation to monitor their performance. 

Review all workforce changes

Some of the most devastating system incursions occur due to internal causes, such as employee onboarding, where the new hires are unfamiliar with the correct security protocols, or organizational oversight, where the CISOs forget to revoke the network access credentials of past employees. 

Other common cases are instances of fraud where employees distribute or misuse their private credentials with malicious intent. In such cases, it is crucial to assess all potential workforce-related vulnerabilities and apply the right solutions to keep them from happening. 

Review password policies

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Password leaks are the easiest way in which bad actors can compromise systems. To avoid this, ensure that the company password policies are always maintained, especially when you are on holiday. 

So, before you leave, perform this checklist item and gauge if your employees are correctly adhering to all your password policies. Provide your employees with the correct documentation and training to devise strong, alphanumeric, randomly generated passwords with special characters. 

Enforcing periodical password change requirements and barring employees from reusing old passwords provides them and the network with an added layer of security. 

Examine firewalls

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Security audits must be a regular periodic practice to ensure your firewall configurations, incoming & outgoing network traffic, configuration parameters, authorized admins, and network traffic filtering rules are performing optimally. 

Even if your next security audit is not due for a few months, it would be wise to conduct one before you leave to ensure that all systems are functional and capable of defending themselves in your absence. 

Secure your business with Bitsio

In most cases, attackers perceive reduced operational capacity and lack of CISOs as an opportune moment to penetrate and exploit networks. The best protection against threats is to have round-the-clock coverage of MDR systems and offer holiday system protection to keep you defended even during your vacations. 

BitsIO is a service provider that makes your cyber security its number one priority. Its state-of-the-art threat detection, analysis, and response systems keep your organization protected against existing and emerging threats, even during the busiest seasons. Contact us to find out more.