The run-up to the holidays is probably the busiest time for your business. November and December drive 30 percent more e-commerce revenue than other months. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, pre-Christmas and post-Christmas sales — these annual events could send your sales into the stratosphere.

But what happens if your IT systems suddenly stop working? This could have a detrimental impact on your business this holiday season. Here are some of the most common IT-related disasters — and business checks you can use to avoid them.


1. Your Website Goes Down

Imagine the scene: It’s 5 a.m. on Boxing Day, and you are expecting a surge of traffic to your e-commerce store. Then, without warning, your website crashes. Customers can’t access your product pages. You lose thousands of dollars in sales.


Sometimes, emergencies happen. But you can reduce the risk of downtime by following these steps. First, ensure your servers can handle increased traffic during the holiday season. If not, it’s time to invest in a new server management strategy. Next, make sure you keep a back up of your website somewhere. Storing all of your website data and having it served over a cloud management program like Cloudflare or AWS provides you with peace of mind.


2. Cybercriminals Hack Your Website

Cybercriminals don’t take a break during the holiday season. In fact, Cyber Monday is one of the most popular times of the year for hackers. Malicious attacks on consumers jumped by 40 percent on Cyber Monday in 2013 and 2014, according to one study.


How can you fight back against hackers? For starters, ensure your website has adequate protection. If you are an ecommerce website you should already have an SSL certificate enabled on your site. You should also be using a secure payment provider and not store any credit card data on your systems. If in breach you could be fined by the card schemes for not being PCI compliant which could be detrimental to your business.  You can also use a firewall like Sucuri if you host your website on WordPress. This lets you check the security of all the themes and plugins you use.


3. You Can’t Communicate With Customers

If the worse does happen and your site goes down during the holiday season, you need to communicate with your customers. Tell them that you are aware of the problem, and you are trying to resolve things. Otherwise, your customers will probably just go somewhere else. You can engage with your audience on social media websites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


The holiday season is just around the corner, and you need to create a plan of action in order to avoid an IT-related disaster. Mitigate downtime with proper server management, ensure your site is secure with a PCI compliant payment processor (like IntegraPay), ensure your website data is protected by a firewall, and communicate with your customers properly if your website crashes. If you run through these key business checks now, you can retain more customers and improve your reputation.