The year is winding down to an end. Everyone, including security teams, is busy and preoccupied. Cyber actors know this and are gearing up to launch attacks and cyberattacks are expected to increase with the upcoming celebratory events. Looking back at 2021, studies show a 30% increase in ransomware attacks, and a 70% increase in attempted ransomware attacks during the holiday season, compared to the monthly average. It is clear that the holiday season exposes many organizations to an increased risk of cyberattacks.
Reasons why cyberattacks increase during the holiday seasons.
- IT professionals are out of the office – Holidays mean fewer in-office employees operating during that time. This results in drawbacks, such as distracted employees, fewer employees responding to threats, and longer response times, all of which contribute to higher chances of success for cyber-attacks.
- Phishing emails and fraudulent websites – By targeting well-known shopping days, such as “Black Friday”, and Christmas sales, threat actors use phishing emails and fraudulent websites to lure consumers which enables the attackers to obtain sensitive information, and install malware on systems.
- High network traffic – Company networks are strained due to high network requests and traffic. This leverages threat actors to easily penetrate systems and launch Distributed Denial of Service attacks (DDoS). According to the 2022 California Business Journal, DDoS attacks increased over the year by 109%, and each attack costs between $20,000 and $40,000 for every hour it continues.
Tips to ensure that your organization remains safe and secure from cyber threats during the holiday season.
- Educate employees: Make sure your employees are aware of the risks of cyber attacks, particularly during the holidays when they may be more likely to let their guard down. Provide them with information on how to spot phishing scams and other types of cyber threats.
- Implement strong security measures: Ensure that your organization has strong security measures in place, such as firewalls, antivirus software, and encryption. Regularly update these measures to protect against new threats.
- Monitor for unusual activity: Keep an eye out for unusual activity on your network, such as suspicious login attempts or unexpected data transfers. Implement measures such as intrusion detection systems and security logs to help identify any potential threats.
- Establish a response plan: Develop a plan for responding to cybersecurity incidents, including procedures for identifying, containing, and mitigating threats. Make sure all employees know what to do if they suspect a cyber attack is taking place.
- Keep software and systems up to date: Make sure all software and systems are kept up to date with the latest security patches and updates. This helps to protect against known vulnerabilities.
Tips to protect yourself and your loved ones from cybersecurity threats during the holidays.
- Use strong and unique passwords: Use strong, unique passwords for all your accounts and change them regularly. Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts.
- Enable two-factor authentication: Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for all your accounts to add an extra layer of security.
- Be wary of phishing scams: Be cautious when receiving emails, texts, or social media messages from unfamiliar senders. Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown sources.
- Use a secure network: When shopping online, make sure to use a secure network connection. Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks, as they may not be secure.
- Keep your software up to date: Make sure to keep all your software, including your operating system and antivirus software, up to date. This helps protect against known vulnerabilities.
- Backup your data: Regularly backup important data, such as photos and documents, to ensure that you don’t lose access to them in the event of a cybersecurity incident.
- Protect your devices: Secure your devices with a password and consider using a security solution such as antivirus software to protect against malware and other threats.
- Be mindful of what you post online: Be mindful of what you share online, especially during the holidays. Avoid posting sensitive information, such as your home address or travel plans, on social media.
Establishing strong security is an ongoing campaign, and it will continue beyond the new year. As your strategy and tactics improve, your IT assets and resources will be safer during the holidays and beyond