The holidays are here and many of us are taking time off work. But do you know who doesn’t go on vacation? Hackers. In fact, security breaches and attempted attacks go up this time of year. Ecommerce sales increase, so there’s more opportunity to steal financial information. And a lot of people take time off work, leaving organizations less able to respond quickly to security alerts as they happen.
Here, we’ll look at the characteristics and trends of hacks and attacks that happen during the holiday season, including what threats are most prevalent, how they happen, and the consequences of overlooking cybersecurity measures. And we’ll also provide a few tips for reducing your risks so that your holidays stay merry and bright.
During the holidays, businesses and organizations are especially susceptible to cybersecurity attacks. Security firm Cybereason wrote in a 2021 report that ransomware attacks occur more frequently on weekends and holidays. One of the primary reasons is the human element — many people take time off work leaving fewer team members present to detect and respond to threats.
When people are out of the office, response times go up, or are paused altogether. Responsibilities may be handled by others who are less experienced and unable to respond with the same speed and thoroughness. And when you consider that many large organizations use third-party vendors to monitor technology infrastructure, it’s one added level for a diffusion of responsibility to creep in.
Ransomware attacks are happening with accelerating frequency, affecting both individual consumers and major corporations alike. Even states aren’t safe, with Montenegro’s government recently finding itself on the receiving end of an attack. And, for hackers, a long holiday weekend is a great time for a ransomware attack. Why? See the above — teams are running on skeleton crews, and ransomware attacks often need time to spread throughout a network. And there’s no better time than when resources are spread thin.
With Black Friday just around the corner, it is expected to hit $158 billion in sales this year in the United States. In addition to intercepting or otherwise stealing payment information, attackers have gotten creative in other ways by impersonating shipping companies such as DHL, FedEx, and UPS and sending emails or text messages about a problem with a package. Since many people are sending or receiving packages this time of year, many employees fall victim and may end up providing personal information, such as login and password credentials or bank information in an attempt to remedy the fake problem.
Before you slow down for the holidays, take a moment to make sure you’re prepared. All businesses and organizations should have incident response plans and review them before the holidays to ensure protocols and contact information are all current. If there are gaps, they can be addressed. Don’t allow yourself to get in a situation where you find out late in the evening that the server is down and only Bob can fix it, but nobody has Bob’s current cell phone number.
Additionally, even though the holidays are a time when many people relax, security teams should stay vigilant about vulnerabilities by assigning specific personnel to monitor security alerts as they’re announced and apply all necessary patches without delay.
Finally, one of the most important steps organizations can take is to conduct phishing simulation training so employees can identify malicious attachments and links. Hackers have become quite sophisticated in their phishing attempts and it’s not simply about being easily fooled. Advocate or implement, depending on your position, company-wide training about phishing.
When you secure your applications with PreEmptive, you’re locking hackers out. They can try — and they do — but they fail. And then they move on to easier targets. It’s why over 300,000 users and 5,000 corporate clients spanning virtually every industry in over 100 countries trust PreEmptive for software security that reduces the risks of hacks and data breaches.
Want to see how you can hit the sweet spot between cost, convenience, and functionality with PreEmptive? Schedule a fast-and-free, no-obligation demo to see how PreEmptive integrates seamlessly with your development process to maximize data security while saving time and money.