Is there a greater risk of cyber attack over the holidays?

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With Christmas only a few days a way, most businesses will be shutting down for a holiday break at the close of business today. It should be a time of peace and relaxation—a time to reflect on the year that has slipped away, and to envision goals for the year to come. But, it seems a majority of IT admins and security professionals will still be losing sleep over potential cyber attacks.

nCircle, an information risk and security management company, commissioned a survey of 270 IT security and business professionals. It asked a range of questions around information security risks and practices, and the breakdown of the results is interesting.

If you have solid security in place, you're not at
any greater risk over the holidays.

Let’s start with the big question: “Are you concerned that your company may be more vulnerable to attack during major holidays such as Christmas and New Year’s?” Overall, nearly six in ten answered, “No”. But, when you break the responses down, it turns out that business stakeholders are less concerned, but 61 percent of information security professionals said, “Yes”.

The perception of impending doom is largely unfounded, according to Andrew Storms, director IT security operations for nCircle. Maybe it’s just cyber-attack PTSD?

Storms explains, “In spite of the increase in malware and viruses around every major holiday, attacks can happen anytime,” adding, “You can’t build a good security program overnight, but if you already have one in place you’re probably just as safe on Christmas as you are any other day of the year.”

That isn’t the only question in the nCircle survey, though. Less than 40 percent of IT security professionals rank information security and privacy among the most important criteria for evaluating business partners or vendors. It seems like that should be a higher priority for IT security professionals, but what’s even sadder is that it’s only important to 13 percent of business stakeholders.

Almost a quarter of IT security professionals consider Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to be important, but among business professionals SLAs got a big, fat zero. When asked how confident they are that the security in place is sufficient to protect sensitive business data, a majority indicated that they are confident—but 26 percent are either unsure, or concerned.

Rest easy, IT security professionals. If you’ve put the pieces into place that should be there to protect your company the rest of the year, the holiday break shouldn’t really be any different. If you haven’t, well then, sleep with one eye open.

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