The online shopping holiday frenzy is upon us and will stretch all the way to New Year’s Day. In fact, the National Retail Federation says that almost half of U.S. consumers plan to make at least some of their holiday purchases online this year, and that includes shopping from work.
The holiday season accounts for more sales than Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Easter, and St. Patrick’s Day combined, and the National Retail Federation predicts that online sales will total $105 billion of this holiday season’s forecasted total retail sales of $630 billion. According to an NRF survey, 46 percent of holiday shopping ? including browsing and buying ? will be done online this year.
What does this mean to your organization? Well, if you’re honest, you know your employees are going to do some online holiday shopping at some point during business hours, even if just for a short time, and that probably includes you. So, with employees spending work time surfing the web to research or purchase items, you need to understand the three biggest challenges your organization faces ? network security, productivity and bandwidth consumption. Let’s take a look at each one.
Network Security - Employees who shop online at work inadvertently create opportunities for malicious attacks on both your network and organization. Hackers use a “threat vector” to gain access to one or more systems or servers on your network. They can compromise systems on your network and deliver a malicious payload such as a virus, worm, Trojan or spyware.
Threat vectors can include phishing, an email fraud method in which the perpetrator sends out a legitimate-looking email in an attempt to gather personal and financial information from unsuspecting recipients. Another attack vector may take the form of “Malvertising,” or Malicious Advertising, a threat that uses online advertising to spread malware, which then captures information from an infected machine, or searches your network to find servers and other systems that can be compromised.
Productivity - When employees bring their own smartphones and tablets into the office, not only is the line between work life and personal life increasingly blurred, but new threats can inadvertently be introduced to the corporate network via malware present on the device. Employees exercise more freedom during work hours for personal activities such as online shopping, and they figure that’s OK because they’re using their own devices. The bottom line, however, is that when employees shop on company time, they’re not working, which means their productivity decreases.
Bandwidth - Besides chipping away at their productivity while shopping on company time, your employees also could be misappropriating valuable bandwidth. With half of them shopping online at some point during the holidays, the bandwidth available to critical applications on your network is going to disappear. Retailers’ promotional videos and the streaming of holiday music also eat up huge chunks of bandwidth, which can have a negative impact on network performance if left unchecked.
Keeping Your Assets Safe and Your Employees Productive
So, what can you do? Below are five tips for securing your network, improving employee productivity, and maximizing your organization’s bandwidth during the holiday online shopping season.
The holiday buying season is here. Employees WILL shop online, which means your network is at risk, productivity will go down and critical bandwidth will be used for non-business related applications. Nobody wants to be a Scrooge around the holidays, but it’s essential to consider the tips above, and also take a look at your network to understand whether the security plan your business has in place supports the deeper level of network security that you need.
About Scott Grebe
Scott Grebe has over 15 years of product marketing and product management experience working for high tech companies including Dell SonicWALL, Apple Computer and SGI. In his current role, Mr. Grebe is a senior product marketing manager for security products at Dell. Mr. Grebe holds an M.S. in Communications (television/radio/film) from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.
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