IT and security professional that work in the retail and banking space tend to go into lock down during the last half of November, all of December, and the first part of January. We’re all saying our little prayers, and doing whatever rituals we do to keep those systems running worry and breach free until the cash flows come back to normal. So what kinds of things can you do to be productive and prepare for 2011?

  • Get on those quarterly scan results! Hopefully you got a clean scan right before the freeze happened, so you could spend this time planning for your next one to ensure you have clean execution and quick remediation for any items found.
  • Examine data flows. Are you sure you need to send that cardholder data all over the place? Maybe now while you have a moment, you can try to understand the business reasons for shipping data in a certain direction, and then have a plan of attack to see if you can get that changed to narrow your scope.
  • Take a look at non-essential systems for prohibited data. I can’t imagine that every single server in your infrastructure is critical to the holiday rush, so why not take some of those other servers and examine what is on them? You might be surprised (or even horrified) at what you find, and you might be able to knock some of those issues out while the focus is on the retail rush.
  • Identify five quick wins. You know those projects you have been putting off (or someone else in your group has) because there is a significant amount of manual effort required to complete it? How about tackling that now, and getting a quick win for 2011! Most of you should be able to easily come up with five quick wins.
  • Get warm! Sure, you can take PTO, or a quick beach vacation over the holidays, but you can also take a few minutes away from the office to work on a couple of projects that are solely dependent on your creativity! Hit the nearest coffee shop and grab a cuppa to focus. Maybe it’s a new way to architect a payment stream, or a new business line to which you need to extend payment processing capabilities. Or maybe it’s investing time to learn about that new piece of technology that will be critical to your infrastructure next year. At any rate, get out and get things done!

We’re on the home stretch for 2010!

This post originally appeared on BrandenWilliams.com.

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