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Prepare Your Network for Employees' Inevitable Cyber Monday Shopping The reality each year on Cyber Monday is that billions are spent online during office hours. You're wise to watch for bandwidth traffic jams and security threats.

By Ken Allen Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The holiday shopping season is once again in full force and whether you fight through the crowds for deals on Black Friday or wait until the last moment on Christmas Eve, one fact can't be denied: Cyber Monday will drive a significant portion of holiday shopping sales in 2014.

Cyber Monday, which has been slowly gaining ground on traditional department store shopping for years has now become one of the busiest shopping days on the calendar and by default, one of the most heavily trafficked Internet days. Last year, Cyber Monday achieved a record number of online shoppers with sales rising 16 percent to $2.29 billion. On Amazon alone, sales increased more than 40 percent by 6 p.m. eastern time, revealing that most people were checking off their gift list from the office computer.

Related: Is Your Website Ready for Cyber Monday?

Americans are still recovering from Thanksgiving festivities on Black Friday and apprehensively making their way to the shopping malls. By comparison, Cyber Monday hits right at the beginning of the work week which means the heavy shopping traffic is taking place across your corporate network instead of the interstate.

So why is Cyber Monday a big deal? Because the accelerated Internet traffic on this day can negatively impact both productivity and network performance, while malware on ecommerce websites can lead to a security compromise.

While many network users believe that Internet bandwidth is unlimited, there is indeed a hard cap on the amount of data organizations can have traversing their networks at any one time. Similar to physical roadways, the more traffic that exists, the slower things move. As ecommerce sites have become more sophisticated, shoppers now have the opportunity to download high-resolution images or view high-definition videos of the products they are purchasing, further slowing the network.

IT administrators will have little sympathy for an inconvenient shopping experience, but the network doesn't differentiate between work related and personal business. A slow network will slow down your Amazon transactions as well as the ability of co-workers to perform critical job functions and customers to access company portals and website pages. This is a major concern for IT departments charged with ensuring the availability of all business applications.

In addition, even the most conscientious of users can be deceived on Cyber Monday. Deals that appear to be too good to be true become commonplace, which increases the likelihood of users following malicious links and opening unsafe attachments. There are any numbers of security scenarios that can play out once malware and botnets are released onto the network, and all of them can prove costly to the organization. Remember the big Target breach? More than 70 million consumers were affected, including those who shopped online.

In a perfect world, employees would refrain from conducting their holiday shopping at work, but when your employees see "80 percent Off Everything" promotions advertised across the Internet and in their inbox, it will be nearly impossible to stop the online shopping mayhem unless you address the challenges for your network and employees in advance.

Related: Home Depot Reports Bigger Breach Than Target; Criminals Used Custom Malware

Here are three tips for you to better prepare and navigate the unique challenges of Cyber Monday in your organization:

  1. Monitor your network. Identify workers who may be slowing down application performance because they are on high-bandwidth shopping and streaming media websites, whether from their desktops or mobile devices. IT teams can gain visibility as to those who are using more than their share of bandwidth and isolate issues before they spin out of control.
  2. Manage network logs. With log management, IT teams can speed up their response to network threats. Log management is an accurate tool that collects, stores, archives and backs-up events. It also identifies potential threats through continuous log monitoring, and receiving alerts to notify you of activity on your network.
  3. Communicate with your employees. Remind and educate employees of the potential pitfalls and dangers of wide scale usage of the corporate network for personal use and any potential scams and other malicious activity that could be occurring during a cyber driven shopping day.

If you follow these tips you can help safeguard your critical business operations from being frozen out by the appeal of Cyber Monday. In tandem, tools that provide network performance monitoring can help with bandwidth management and security. While the cash is sure to be flowing this holiday season, ensuring that your data and applications are also moving freely and without interruption will keep businesses running smoothly.

Related: 5 Ways to Prepare Your Website for Cyber Monday

Ken Allen

Director of Product Marketing at Ipswitch

 Ken is currently the director of product Marketing for Ipswitch and is responsible for all product messaging, positioning and marketing content around the product portfolio. Prior to joining Ipswitch, Ken was the Director of Product Marketing at Metalogix, one of the largest Microsoft SharePoint ISVs.

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