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Secure Out-of-Office Replies: Protecting Your Privacy During the Holidays

Updated: Mar 14

unattended computer in hotel room

As the festive season approaches, many of us look forward to spending quality time with loved ones. However, amidst the holiday cheer, there’s an important aspect we mustn’t overlook: cybersecurity. Yes, you read that right—phishing and impersonation thrive during this time, and your out-of-office replies can unwittingly become the gateway for cyber threats.

1. The Risk in Well-Intentioned Replies

When crafting your out-of-office message, it’s natural to want to be helpful. But beware—over-sharing can backfire. Here’s why:

  • Common Details: We often include departure and return dates, alternative contacts, travel destinations, and even mobile numbers.

  • Leverage for Attacks: Cybercriminals exploit this information for phishing and impersonation attempts.

2. Crafting a Secure Out-of-Office Reply

Let’s ensure your out-of-office message doesn’t inadvertently become a security loophole. Follow these best practices:

a. Be Vague About Dates

  • Instead of exact dates, use broader terms like “early in January” or “later this week.”

  • Avoid pinpointing your absence window too precisely.

b. Guard Your Mobile Number

  • While it’s fine to mention that you can be reached via mobile, refrain from sharing your actual number.

  • Cybercriminals can exploit this information for social engineering attacks.

c. Keep Your Destination a Mystery

  • Resist the urge to reveal your holiday plans in your out-of-office reply.

  • Cybercriminals can use this data to craft convincing phishing emails.

d. Chain of Command? Not in Your Reply

  • Avoid providing insight into your organization’s hierarchy.

  • Cybercriminals can use this information to impersonate supervisors or colleagues.

e. Separate Replies for External Contacts

  • Set up a distinct automatic reply for external senders.

  • Internal colleagues need less detail than external contacts.

f. Limit Replies to Trusted Contacts

  • Configure your out-of-office reply to go only to senders in your contact list.

  • This minimizes exposure to potential threats.

Merry Christmas from runbiz™

By following these guidelines, you’ll protect yourself and your organization from cyber risks.

Wishing you a joyful and safe Christmas from our team at runbiz™! 🎄🌟


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