Wednesday, December 15th, 2010
If you happen to remember the 1984 Band Aid song to raise money for famine relief you'll know "It’s Christmas time, there's no need to be afraid". But you might also know that it's Christmas time and there is a real need to keep your company reputation and brand intact during this festive period of cheer and merriment.

Lloyd Borrett, Security Evangelist at AVG (AU/NZ), says: “You can picture the scene: The staff party kicks off with some drinks in your office, employees are starting to loosen up so that their guard is down and a few irresponsible Tweets and emails start to get sent.

“Worse still, after the lunch or dinner drinks, employees come back via your office to grab their coats or belongings and get picked up to return home. The computers are still on, Facebook, Twitter and email are all still open and the company's social reputation could be damaged if your employees decide it’s a good time to update your social media profiles with office party shenanigans. That's why Google introduced Mail Goggles for Gmail, right?”

SMB employers need to pre-empt this by establishing some simple ground rules for online behaviour before things get out of hand. Follow these steps and your Christmas (or Hanukah, or Kwanza, or any other holiday celebration) will go off with a positive pop and not a calamitous clash.

Here some things AVG suggests you think about.

Employee Responsibility: At the next company meeting, take some time out to explain that each and every individual has an important role to play as an ambassador for the company brand and that this accountability extends to behaviour (both electronic and real-world) both inside and outside of the office.

Careless Whispers: In this modern world of connected communications, a simple jibe at the company or another employer made on email (or on a social media website) can be forwarded, exchanged, amplified and often misinterpreted badly. Avoid libellous litigation cases and lay down strict ground rules: Champagne bottles open equals browsers closed. It's that simple.

The 12 Days of Malware: Virus makers, malware producers and phishing scam ne'er-do-wells love the holiday season. People send silly animated web apps to each other and games, videos and e-cards of all types are flung around the Internet at this time. Once again the approach here should be simple: employees should not open attachments not related to work; employees should not create and share this type of so-called 'rich media'; and this guideline should continue year-round. Charity Christmas cards sent by post are popular for a reason; spell this out to your employee base.

The (Smartphone) Camera Never Lies: Our handheld devices have become incredibly powerful. Access to email and indeed the corporate data centre is now possible via a smartphone that you can take anywhere. Ensure that your corporate Christmas IT policy extends to the use of tablets and smartphones.

Finally, although it may be slightly “Scrooge like”, do not allow your employees to post inappropriate pictures of themselves on the web from company camera phones.

Borrett says: “Essentially this is all common sense. But all of these procedures or policies are proposed for one central reason. SMBs do not spend 364 days a year putting in place malware and maintaining prevention technologies only to have their data and reputation compromised by some irresponsible actions taken as a result of party season merriment.

“Your anti-virus provisioning layers are strong (we hope); so do not give the cyber criminals an open door to your electronic IP (intellectual property).

“As we say at AVG: eat, drink and be merrily secure.”

AVG (AU/NZ) has a comprehensive range of security tips on its web site at For some video tips from Lloyd, see

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AVG, Internet security, cyber crime, reputation, Christmas



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