As the holiday season approaches, the atmosphere is brimming with festive cheer. However, it’s crucial to stay vigilant because this joyful time also presents a golden opportunity for cybercriminals. Historical data reveals a surge in cyberattacks during this season. With employees on vacation, reduced support, remote work on potentially insecure Wi-Fi networks, and heightened online activity, the risk of cyberattacks slipping under the radar is significantly elevated. According to Cisco’s 2021 Cybersecurity Threat Trends report, phishing attacks historically spike around holiday times, reporting a peak of 52% in December. In New Zealand, Q1 2023, CertNZ reported $5.8 million in direct financial losses, with a 66% increase from the previous quarter.
During the holiday season, cybercriminals employ various tactics to compromise businesses. Phishing emails and fraudulent websites are among the most prevalent. For example, global shipping companies like DHL, FedEx, and UPS have been among the top impersonated brands in phishing emails. Cybercriminals often use these scams to plant malware on corporate systems, exposing organisations to further risks, knowing that with staff away from the office their attacks are unlikely to be detected.
To ensure you can enjoy your holiday without worrying about cyber threats, it’s crucial to have the right cybersecurity measures in place.
Security Training and Awareness:
Conduct phishing simulation training for employees to help them identify malicious attachments and links. Stress the importance of not sharing login information with unverified recipients. If an employee falls victim to a phishing attack, prompt reporting and password changes are crucial. Emphasise cybersecurity best practices to employees. Highlight the increased risk of phishing attacks and stress the importance of avoiding clicking on suspicious links or opening unexpected email attachments. Vigilance is key to a secure season
Remote Security Measures:
Remote work demands robust security measures. Prioritise secure, updated software for all remote access. Embrace the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to forge secure connections to your business network. Safety in remote work starts with these essential precautions. Strengthen your mobile security strategy by implementing and enforcing work-specific security policies. Make it a mandate for strong passcodes or biometric authentication on mobile devices. Prioritise these measures to fortify your organisation’s mobile security and protect sensitive information.
Secure Online Transactions:
Prioritise the security of online transactions for your business. Ensure a secure e-commerce platform and safeguard customer data. Stay vigilant by monitoring financial transactions for any signs of unusual activity.
Ensure that several IT security employees are available and on call during the holidays. Assign specific personnel to monitor alerts and apply critical patches promptly.
Update Cybersecurity Systems:
Invest in real-time security platforms that provide better insight into network activity. Consider vendor security management solutions to monitor third-party vendors’ cybersecurity practices.
Incident Response Plan:
Review and update your incident response plan, ensuring that all team members understand their roles. Conduct tabletop exercises to identify potential gaps in your plan.
Supply Chain Assurance:
Review the certification and accreditation processes of your suppliers.
Ensure offsite or disconnected backups are in place to protect critical data. Test these backups on a schedule to confirm they are working correctly.
Don’t let cybercriminals ruin your holiday season. Cybersecurity should remain a top priority for businesses, even during the most wonderful time of the year. By taking the necessary precautions and being prepared, you can minimize the risk of cyberattacks and ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday season for your business and its stakeholders. Remember, cybercriminals don’t take holidays, and neither should your cybersecurity efforts.