How To Keep Your Business Prepared for this Holiday Hacking Season?
Holidays are around the corner, and so are the hackers. They are waiting for your relaxed mindset and reduced staff coverage.
Also, there is an increased risk of online fraud and phishing attacks. Scammers targeted 75% of Americans with at least one form of holiday fraud in 2021.
Have you taken any steps to protect your business ? This blog provides tips to improve cybersecurity during the holidays and beyond.
A Look at Recent Holiday Cyberattacks
LA Unified School District Breach 2022
LAUSD was the victim of a high-profile ransomware attack during the Labor Day weekend.
Attackers released 250,000 stolen files on the dark web. It includes
- Social security numbers
Colonial Pipeline Attack 2021
Colonial Pipeline, an American fuel pipeline company. It was attacked on Mother’s Day weekend eve. Attackers used the DarkSide ransomware to halt their IT systems.
This caused a weeklong suspension of the operations of pipelines. The company is said to have paid USD 4.4 million as ransom.
JBS Breach 2021
Global meat supplier, JBS, was hit by a ransomware attack during the 2021 Memorial Day weekend. The attack happened on its IT systems in North America and Australia. It disabled pork and beef slaughterhouses.
This brought complete production to a standstill. The company paid USD 11 million in bitcoins as ransom.
Kaseya Breach 2021
Kaseya, a software company, was hit by supply chain ransomware during the 2021 4th of July weekend. This exposed nearly 800-1200 SMEs using their managed services.
Cybersecurity During the Holidays: Why Do Attacks Peak?
More Volumes of Online Shopping = More Valuable Data
The number of people shopping online, and the volume of online sales rise exponentially during the holiday season. There is so much valuable PII and financial information at stake. Data being the new oil, attackers are automatically drawn to it.
Greater Effectiveness of Scams
Phishing attacks are relatively more effective during the holiday season. Customers are often looking for the best deals, discounts, and offers. And they tend to get several unwanted promotional emails during this time.
The chances of phishing emails and ads getting clicked are much higher. Customers may only sometimes verify the source’s credibility. It results in falling prey to scams.
Straining of Company Networks
Company networks are already strained during the holiday season. Many enterprises are already underprepared to handle traffic spikes.
They may not have systems to detect and stop bad requests. So, attackers use this gap to DDoS company networks.
Lack of Resources
Data suggests that organizations are staffed below 33% during the holiday season. But cybercriminals don’t take holidays. They strike when companies are understaffed.
Those companies are not prepared to detect and respond to attacks. Security teams are left overwhelmed. They need to work overtime to mobilize a response.
Workers are Distracted
More sales happen during the holiday season. Employees are often scrambling to finish tasks before holidays. This leaves workers overworked and distracted.
The chances of human errors are higher during this time. The responses to attacks aren’t as robust. Attackers, as a result, can evade detection or do more damage.
Most Common Cyber Attacks During the Holidays
As per the FBI, the most common holiday scams are:
- Non-payment scams where the sellers don’t get paid, but the goods get shipped
- Non-delivery scams are where the buyers don’t get the products they have paid for
- Auction frauds, where attackers misrepresent products on auction sites
- Gift card fraud, where attackers defraud customers using prepaid cards
Phishing trick people into giving away sensitive information or downloading malware. According to the FBI, phishing is the most common type of cybercrime. It accounts for more than 30% of all reported cyberattacks.
These attacks often take the form of fake emails or website pop-ups. They appear to be from legitimate sources, like banks or online retailers. Customers and employees may not check the accuracy of the sources. They may, thus, end up doing the attackers’ bidding.
Another common type of phishing is spoofed websites. Cybercriminals may set up fake shopping websites to trick people into giving away their personal data. They often mislead people into purchasing fake items.
Data suggests a 30% surge in ransomware attacks during holidays compared to the monthly average. There’s a 70% surge in attempted ransomware attacks over Nov and Dec compared to Jan and Feb.
Holiday DDoS Attack
During the holiday seasons, traffic volumes are at an all-time high. This makes it difficult to distinguish between legitimate and malicious traffic. Hackers use DDoS attacks to overwhelm the victim’s platform. The combination of DDoS attacks and ransomware is common. It is known as a triple extortion ransomware attack.
Motives behind holiday DDoS attacks are:
- Impact Sales with outage
- Divert shoppers to other sites
Operational downtimes during the holidays cause significant losses to companies. This is especially the case with retail companies.
Companies are also more likely to pay ransom to avert downtimes. So, companies face higher holiday cybersecurity risks.
Tips To Avoid Holiday Cyberattacks
Intelligent, Fully Managed Security Solutions
This is one of the most effective holiday cybersecurity tips. The solution automatically detects threats and vulnerabilities in real-time. They can secure flaws and stop threats in real time. When certified security experts fully manage such a solution, you can stop even the most complex threats. They are effective against malicious bots, API attacks, malware, and more.
Such solutions defend your business around the clock. Whether you work at full capacity or with minimal staff doesn’t matter.
Incident Response and Recovery Plans
Despite all efforts, cyber-attacks are sometimes unavoidable during the holidays. Incident response and disaster recovery plans help you to recover quickly. It also minimizes damage. This helps in keeping your holiday risks under control.
Keep Everything Updated
Unpatched flaws and outdated systems offer easy entry points for attackers. Make sure to keep your operating system and security software up to date. It protects against the latest threats.
Zero Trust Architectures
You must implement zero-trust policies in your enterprise. Establish strong password policies. Enable two-factor authentication where possible.
This adds an extra layer of security. It ensures that only authenticated users gain access to resources. Enable robust access controls. It ensures that users get access only to the data they have access to.
Pause Large Changes
IT updates may not have been completely tested during this time. Don’t rush any product or significant update to achieve a clean slate. Doing so will leave security risks.
This is because a weak system could create a security gap. And it makes it easy for hackers to exploit. If it doesn’t hurt your business, consider delaying changes until the holiday season ends.
You must continuously educate your employees and customers on security risks. It minimizes the risks of human errors. They must know:
- What and what not to click on
- How to identify scams
- Where to report suspicious activities.
Establish robust cybersecurity and risk management policies today. Invest in intelligent security solutions like AppTrana now to build cybersecurity during the holidays. Don’t let cyberattacks spoil your holidays.