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5 IT Christmas Nightmares – How To Avoid The Festive Fallout

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review’s print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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Bob Janssen, founder and CTO at RES, shares tips on how to avoid the torture created for IT teams over Christmas, due to increased workloads, risk and exposure

The Christmas holidays are upon us, but it doesn’t just bring the promise of a bundle of gifts from Santa, it also comes with numerous IT headaches that will test the limits of IT professionals everywhere. Increased workloads, and amplified risks and exposure are just some examples of what can turn this time of the year into a ‘Nightmare before Christmas’ for IT. Below we give our top five headaches and how best to avoid this ‘festive fallout’.

Full House

With increased footfalls in stores, the necessity for additional customer service staff, and the abundance of delivery drivers needed to ensure your parcels arrive before the big day, Christmas generates a huge amount of seasonal employment. According to The Cordant Group, it is estimated that an average 28,000 temporary workers will be hired per week in the run up to Christmas, meaning a daunting onboarding effort for IT.

If you want to reduce the workload for your IT team, automated onboarding can provide the capacity to help get temporary staff up and running much faster. The right technology can predict what access new hires will need and deliver it to them automatically without IT assistance. This can decrease your typical onboarding time from days to minutes, increase accuracy of giving the right access levels to the right people, and ensure a proper record of access.

All Hands on Deck

IT teams face a flurry of requests for remote access from those employees choosing to work away from the office over the festive period, adding further burden as they struggle to manage forgotten passwords and remote working policies. Add to that the influx of seasonal employees, and service desks can easily hit overtime, meaning they increase hours to accommodate the additional requests, or only help those that time allows. If IT does not have enough hands on deck, it will likely result in unhappy, under-served, and unproductive staff.

Providing those employees with the power to help themselves with a self-service store will reduce the need to rely on IT. From password resets, to requests for access, employees can log on to their devices and simply request what they need. Again, with automation, employees should have what they are requesting delivered in no time.

Access all Areas

Unfortunately, when the Christmas holidays come to an end, so too does the temporary employment, and for many, their contracts will be terminated, meaning yet another unwanted gift for the IT department. When employees leave an organisation, IT has the job of ensuring ex-employees no longer have access to areas and information that should typically be restricted. It’s estimated that 35% of employees have system access for at least one week after leaving employment, leaving the businesses at risk of theft or system tampering.

Automated offboarding reduces the risk of access being placed in the wrong hands. When someone’s employment status is changed in the HR system, it triggers the automated removal of the former employee’s access quickly and securely and without the intervention of IT.

The Email Grinch

Whilst cyber criminals need no excuse when it comes to hacking attempts, Christmas certainly brings with it a whole host of fresh phishing attacks and email scams. Whether it be money saving voucher deals or purchase confirmations for products you weren’t aware you had bought, the influx in spam poses a huge risk for data security and an equally huge weight for IT shoulders to bear.

More sophisticated whitelisting technology can help reduce the risk of phishing attacks by only allowing access to the few approved websites the organisation believes to be risk-adverse. Any requests to access files or websites not whitelisted can be automatically denied.

Focus, Focus, Focus

With automation, IT can focus on more of the major risks that affect businesses and focus less on the people-posed problems that can lead to internal threats  all without opening up to risks or negatively impacting customer service. This will limit the threat of an IT meltdown and ensure you free up time so everyone can enjoy their Christmas at home. After all, ‘tis the season to be jolly!