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Don’t Spend Your Holidays Battling Malware

Don’t Spend Your Holidays Battling Malware

The holidays are here again, bringing with them hustle, bustle and overwhelming your customers into clicking machines. The amount of emails sent at this time of year is staggering, and even savvy users who have carefully avoided suspicious links and attachments all year are suddenly clicking on any little thing that arrives in their inbox promising a jolly good time.

High volume isn’t the only security issue during the holidays either. People are receiving mail with unusual attachments such as gift cards, receipts, shipping confirmations or travel itineraries, which they open without thinking. For MSPs, this means an increased likelihood of malware infections as the stress of the holidays takes over and security becomes less of a concern for users.

Having a good email filter and endpoint AV (anti-virus solution) in place is essential, but no single layer is 100 percent effective. If you don’t want to spend your holiday basking in the cold glow of a monitor, you need to have more substantial protection in place before the problem starts. A multi-layered security system that includes network level on and off-network protection will keep your users off the naughty list, whether they’re working at home or in the office.

There are three main reasons security goes out the window when December rolls around:

Higher Volume of Clicks

No one is ever so popular as they are during the holidays. Inboxes around the world are filled with shopping- and holiday-themed emails in addition to regularly scheduled business mail. This huge influx of messages with links and attachments leads to more mistakes on the part of your users. People tend to forget security rules when faced with a stuffed inbox - they just want to get through it as fast as possible.

Unusual Mail

While people may send and receive gifts year-round, the volume is nothing compared to the holidays. If users are expecting emails that include links or attachments promising receipts, itineraries, gift cards and other seemingly-innocuous goodies, they’ll be less inclined to think before clicking. These links can send users to malware infection vectors and opening malicious attachments is how you get Cryptolocker. It’s important to remind users not to click, but the human element will always win out. Utilizing a predictive network security system that can prevent infections and contain damage from errant clicks, like Umbrella for MSPs, is the best protection you can have for the holidays.

Holiday Travel

Not all holiday IT scares come from malware links and bogus attachments. People travel for the holidays, whether it’s across the country to Grandma’s or to long family gatherings across town, and they’re taking their laptops with them. That means being outside of your UTM’s protection at unsecured WiFi at airports, coffee shops and relative’s homes. This opens their devices to a host of malicious activity that they’ll be bringing back to the office once their vacation is over.

The holidays are a time of plenty, and they provide plenty of opportunities for bad actors to wreak havoc in your network. Ensuring your customers have multiple layers of both on and off-network protection in place will save you from hours of troubleshooting and malware cleanup - and effectively spending your holiday in the NOC.

Dima Kumets is MSP Product Manager at OpenDNS.

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