The holidays are a magical time of year. They’re filled with wonder, joy, getting together with family and friends and an abundance of merriment. But something that many businesses forget to consider are the added threats and potential dangers associated with cyber security at Christmas.
Sadly (and not at all in keeping with the festive season), there is a drastic increase in cyber crime activity during the final three months of the year, all of which culminates in the largest concentration the closer it gets to December 25th.
In this blog, we’re going to explain everything you need to know about the added threats to cyber security during the holidays and what you can do as a business to mitigate, if not outright avoid these dangers—and, if you are affected, what you can do about it.
Why Is There an Increase in Online Threats to Business Cyber Security at Christmas?
There are a number of reasons why cyber crime tends to spike during the holiday season. Firstly, there is an increase in cybercriminals who know that people will be travelling and spending time away from their homes, making them more susceptible to cyberattacks. With the increase in online shopping, delivery notifications to your inbox become commonplace, creating additional attack vectors that are often overlooked. Additionally, many businesses are often understaffed during this time of year—leaving them with reduced cyber security resources at their disposal.
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To mitigate these risks, it’s important for businesses to take steps to secure their networks and data against online threats like viruses and malware, as well as implementing strong passwords and other protective measures. If you do fall victim to cybercrime over the holidays, make sure that you have an effective disaster recovery plan in place so you can recover quickly.
The 6 Biggest Dangers to Cyber Security at Christmas
Here are the 6 biggest, most damaging cyber threats and crimes that you need to know about in order to stay cyber-safe this holiday season:
This cyber threat involves criminals using malicious software to steal credit card information as it is being processed to make a purchase online or in-store. With the increase in shopping activity during this time of year, so too does the criminal activity increase.
This is any type of malicious software that can be used to disrupt computer operations, gather sensitive information and gain access to private systems. Malware can take many different forms, including viruses, worms, and spyware. As millions of people make last minute shopping orders on their online accounts, many cyber criminals will attempt to infect them with malware in an attempt to steal their personal details.
Phishing refers to the act of sending fraudulent emails or messages in an attempt to trick people into revealing their personal information such as login credentials or account details. Criminals often try to lure victims with fake offers and deals around the holidays that look legitimate but are actually designed to steal sensitive data from unsuspecting individuals.
4. DDoS Attacks
A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack is a cyberattack in which cybercriminals overwhelm a website or network with traffic, making it unavailable to legitimate users. These attacks are often used as a form of cyberterrorism and can be incredibly difficult to defend against, especially during the busy holiday season when many businesses experience an increase in online traffic from customers shopping online and browsing social media.
5. Data Breaches
As businesses collect more and more data about their clients and customers, there is an increased risk for breaches involving sensitive information like credit card details, personally identifiable information (PII), and other types of personal data that cybercriminals may attempt to exploit for financial gain or other malicious purposes.
6. Social Engineering
Social engineering is a deceptive cyber threat in which cybercriminals attempt to trick their victims into providing them with sensitive information or taking actions that result in an increased risk of cyber attack. These attacks can be particularly insidious and difficult to defend against, especially if they are targeted at employees who may not have the cyber security training necessary to spot social engineering tactics like phishing emails, phone scams, and other types of deception.
By taking steps to educate your employees about these threats and implementing effective cyber security measures, you can help secure your business against online attacks during the holiday season and all year long.
6 Holiday Cyber Security Tips to Help You Weather the Storm
Here are 6 of the most essential Christmas cyber security tips that you can use to fend off the rising tide of cyber criminals trying to foist off malicious links, ransomware attacks and all the other naughty-list behaviour that ensures they’ll get a lump of coal in their stocking this year.
1. Strengthen Your Cyber Security Defenses
Implementing robust cyber security measures like firewalls, antivirus software, multi-factor authentication, virtual private networks (VPN) and other protective tools can help to keep your business safe from a range of online threats.
2. Educate Your Employees
In order to be effective, cyber security efforts must involve everyone in the organization—not just IT staff and senior executives. Encouraging employees to be vigilant about cyber risks, avoiding connecting to free public Wi-Fi networks and taking steps to educate them about common cyber threats can go a long way towards reducing the likelihood of an attack.
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3. Set Up Disaster Recovery Plans
If you do fall victim to cybercrime over the holidays, having an effective disaster recovery plan in place is essential for minimizing downtime and damage caused by cyber attacks. Having robust backup and recovery systems in place, along with procedures for quickly identifying cyber incidents, responding to them, and mitigating their effects can help your business bounce back from cyber threats more quickly.
4. Stay Vigilant
In today’s cyber landscape, keeping your business safe from cyber threats requires an ongoing commitment to staying informed about the latest cyber risks and doing everything you can to stay ahead of emerging cyber threats. By remaining vigilant and taking steps to stay up-to-date on the latest cyber security news and trends, you can better protect your organization against cybercrime over the holidays and all year long.
5. Get a Compliance Audit Performed
No one wants to think about security threats, especially during the holidays. However, the reality is that incidents of all sorts tend to increase in frequency during this time of year.
Whether it’s a surge in phishing attacks or an increase in malicious activity, businesses need to be prepared.
One way to reduce exposure and identify potential threats is to schedule an external audit of the client environment. Audits based on CIS best practices and IG1 control levels can help to assess risk and make recommendations for improvements.
The cost of an audit is often surprisingly affordable, particularly when compared to the cost of a major security breach. For a typical environment including 25 users in an office, connected devices/printers, wireless access points and a few servers, the price is often around $4,500.
6. Work with Cyber Security Experts
Whether you’re looking to improve your cyber defenses or respond to an existing cyberattack, partnering with a trusted cyber security expert can help you maximize the effectiveness of your efforts and get back up and running more quickly if disaster strikes.
By working with experienced professionals who have deep knowledge of the latest cyber risks and how to address them, you can better protect your business from online threats during the holiday season and all year long.
Stepping Up Your Christmas Cyber Security Defenses with Kearns Technology
At Kearns Technology, we understand the importance of cyber security during the holiday season and all year long.
Our team of cyber security experts is dedicated to helping businesses like yours stay safe from online threats and minimize downtime in the event of a cyber incident. With years of experience in cyber security, cutting-edge tools and techniques, and an unmatched commitment to protecting your data and important business assets, we’re here to help you weather the storm this holiday season with confidence.
And to help you go even further with that, we’re offering more than just cybersecurity tips.
If your business IT setup matches the one described in point 5 above, we’re offering an end-of-year special on compliance audits.
Contact us today to learn more about this amazing end-of-year special and how we can help keep your business safe from cyber risks!