Businesses are being urged to take a number of IT security precautions over the Christmas and new year period.
GFI Software says that with many firm's likely to operate with skeleton staff, there are a number of steps which can be taken to reduce the risks of a breach.
Firstly, the firm urges companies to remove redundant user accounts.
"It is imperative that system and application user accounts belonging to former employees, or belonging to current employees no longer needing them, are purged," GFI Software noted.
The company claims dormant user accounts – known as ghost accounts – pose "one of the biggest risks" of unauthorised access and increase the number of entry points for an opportunistic hacker.
Businesses are also being advised to shut down unnecessary open ports.
This means checking routers and gateway appliances to make sure only the most critical network ports are open.
"Closing unused ports greatly reduces the risk of intrusion, as well as helping to interfere with malware, spyware and other malicious code trying to communicate under the radar of port monitoring software," GFI Software claims.
The company urges firms to patch all software before shutting down for the break, reducing the risk of operating system and application vulnerabilities being exploited.
And users should also update anti-virus software, to prevent accidental or intended infection of key systems, such as mail servers.
"If you don’t need it – switch it off," GFI Software advises.
"Non-essential systems should be shut down while the business is closed. This will reduce the risk of unnoticed equipment failure and prevent non-critical systems from being compromised and used to access critical systems and storage silos."
Posted by Alex Boardman