Take Your Holiday Time Off – Do It for Your Company

The Christmas holiday season is upon us and many, many workers are traveling to see family and friends and taking time off to be with loved ones. While our connected-everything world makes it possible to ‘check in’ while you’re away, at least one security company says to give yourself the gift of totally turning off from the office.

Well that’s a nice year-end pressie!

T-Systems, the cybersecurity arm of Deutsche Telekom (Germany is one of the most productive countries on the planet, so let’s listen to them, shall we?), is warning organizations of the security risks associated with allowing employees to work while on their Christmas holiday.

“Time away from our hectic work life should be treasured, not spoilt by an expectation we will respond to work emails and requests,” said Scott Cairns, the UK head of cybersecurity at T-Systems.

Holla, Scott! But there’s another reason to stay off the mail and remote work wagon.

“Putting aside the impact on our families, this practice also creates a real cybersecurity threat for organizations,” he said.

Grab a cranberry cocktail and let’s break this down:

First up is a common cyber-culprit: Public Wi-Fi. A T-Systems survey of more than 2000 UK employees conducted by market research agency Censuswide found that a third (31%) use free Wi-Fi hotspots, and nearly a quarter (24%) use them for work-related emails and documents. These are a big danger area as they are insecure and easy for hackers to clone (getting access to all email and web traffic, including any work documents and passwords).

Further, 28% of employees email work documents to and from their personal email, despite this creating numerous security problems. About 10% use free USB charging points at airports and stations, which can be used to transfer viruses and malware to unsuspecting users.

“Our message to businesses for the holiday season is ‘let your employees enjoy an uninterrupted break’,” said Cairns. “Strongly discourage them from taking work on holiday, and make sure employees do not feel pressured to work when they should be taking time out.”

Amen, Scott, amen!

Also, the research showed that many employees just aren’t knowledgeable on the multitude of ways their devices can be infected with viruses and malware. “Those who thought they were ‘very knowledgeable’ frequently gave the wrong answer when questioned!” Cairns added.

Thus, where employees absolutely must interrupt their festivities to email and work remotely, T-Systems said it is essential those employees have had recent cybersecurity training, or they risk compromising business security and confidentiality.

So take that time off, and celebrate the spirit of the festive season – and whatever you do, don’t check in with work. Really, as T-Systems points out, it’s the best gift you could give your company.  

What’s Hot on Infosecurity Magazine?