IT checklist for the Christmas break

The internet bad guys never take a break (because they don’t deserve one). Here’s what you need to do before heading off. PAUL WALLBANK

Paul Wallbank Tech Talk blog

By Paul Wallbank

We’re finally on the downward slope to the Christmas break and, for many of us, a well earned holiday.

One group that never takes a break are the internet bad guys, as we read in yesterday’s SmartCompany and saw in last week’s “zero day exploit” for Internet Explorer.

If you’re wondering what a “zero day exploit” is, it’s where the details of a security bug have been made public before the manufacturer knew about it. This gives the malware writers a window of opportunity to cause mischief before anyone can plug the hole.

When you sit down at your home or office computer in the new year, install any program updates and allow your antivirus to download the latest virus definitions before you start surfing the net or reading your email.

As well as updating your systems when you return to work, there’s a few things you should do before shutting down for Christmas, including disconnecting unnecessary equipment and doing a few backups.

Backups are the most basic and essential point; I like to see at least three backups – a standard backup on disk, tape or online, a backup of current projects to a USB drive and a CD or DVD of important company and financial information.

Naturally copies of these should go offsite to somewhere secure just in case something disastrous, such as a robbery, fire or flood, happens while you’re away.

Across most of Australia over Christmas power surges from storms and bushfires are common. So unplug all equipment that doesn’t need to be on. This includes monitors, printers and hubs.

The most damaging power surges come through the phone and cable TV lines. So if you don’t need to access your home or small office computers while away, unplug all the cables from your internet modem and router.

If you’re a larger business, or you are in doubt about what you should unplug, talk to your IT provider before turning anything off. Cutting off your workforce or shutting down your website over the break is not a good look.

I have a few more ideas of things to watch for on the PC Rescue website, including a checklist for the end of year shutdown.

As the last column for the year I’d like to wish all readers a merry Christmas and a happy new year. We have a challenging 2009 ahead on both the business and the technology fronts, so enjoy a good, restful break.


Paul Wallbank speaks and writes on how business owners can meet the challenges of the new economy. A business owner himself, Paul has spent over 15 years helping businesses achieve their potential. He has two computer advice websites; PC Rescue and IT Queries, and appears monthly on ABC Local Radio’s Nightlife program and Sydney 702 weekends.

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