Why Holidays Increase the Risk of Cyberattack for Your Business (And How to Take Precautions)
Businesses and other organizations may be vulnerable to a range of potentially expensive cyberattacks throughout the course of the year.
Research on past holidays, in fact, indicates that cybercriminals become bolder and more aggressive at this time of the year; a 2021 report even revealed that organisations reported more than 20 supply chain disruptions during the previous year.
Customers will also be swarming to websites and to finish up on their shopping, which will result in a major rise in activity and revenue for the retail and logistics sectors. This will pose a threat to these individuals as well who may be prone to ransomware and phishing attacks.
Understanding the increase in cyberattacks over the holidays
1. IT Professionals Are Out of the Office
The fact that there are fewer people working in offices during the holidays may be one of the biggest reasons for these increases in cybercrime. There will be a few or assigned IT personnel who may not have the competence to deal with the Intense Cybersecurity attacks. Organizations become more exposed to hazards when there are fewer individuals available to respond to them.
Teams will take more time to react even if they can spot these threats as they emerge – for example, to apply software patches to eliminate specific vulnerabilities. During this period, these issues tend to be overlooked or missed completely. Cybercriminals are aware of this and will continue to exploit this vulnerability.
2. Employee Distraction
Digital security tends to take a dip in performance during the holiday season, even when employees are present. Businesses are frequently busy over the holidays, so employees may be preoccupied with other tasks including taking on work for employees who are on leave. The team may overlook early warning indications of a cyberattack in haste to complete other responsibilities. 95% of data breaches are the result of human error, and distracted employees are more prone to make mistakes.
3. There’s More Important Information to Steal
Attacks increase over the holidays because of the abundance of data that is readily available. This tendency is understandable given that merchants would be the target of 24% of all cyberattacks in 2020. Regarding shopping peaks, businesses have access to more client data, so a successful attack would yield greater rewards.
Cybersecurity is essential during the holiday shopping season online because an influx of customers makes a company a more tempting target. This trend is likely to continue to increase as e-commerce represents an increasing percentage of retail sales.
4. Networks Are Under Greater Stress
As businesses grow, their networks experience more capacity strain. Businesses might not have planned for this surge in traffic, which would cause their networks to become sluggish during peak usage periods. Criminals are aware that this increase in traffic could render them more vulnerable to a cyberattack. Attacks involving distributed denial of service (DDoS) may become easier to execute in that situation. Similarly, this strain might make it challenging to defend against these assaults.
5. Phishing and Ransomware attacks.
Phishing attempts can be remarkably effective during these times, as they’re harder to spot. When users are already receiving many unsolicited emails and promotions, it’s easier to disguise a phishing email. These attacks are highly profitable, with instances of up to millions being withheld, so they’re an ideal choice for cybercriminals. Distracted and busy employees during the holidays make them ideal targets, as well.
Ransomware also tends to see a particularly sharp rise, with attacks around holidays. On the one part, this may be occasioned by the general rise in cybercrime, but on the other part, stressed companies may be more willing to pay ransoms. During the busy holiday season, businesses may not have the energy or resources to attempt to recover stolen files. Paying a ransom to get them back quicker may seem more appealing, making these attacks more successful. Cybercriminals may jump on that chance to earn a fast payout.
Enhancing the security of the IT environment using appropriate methods
Organizations can take a number of steps to reduce their potential cyber risk as the holidays get nearby.
- Conducting phishing simulation training is one of the most crucial actions that organizations can take. Employees can benefit from such training by learning to spot harmful attachments and URLs, as well as to avoid sharing login information with unauthorized recipients. Employees should appreciate the significance of double-checking emails with unforeseen attachments and links, including, if practical, calling senders at known phone numbers.
- If an employee accidentally falls for a phishing scam but realizes their error, they should notify IT support staff at once. After that, IT should start changing passwords and assess any new risk brought on by the attack, which can then result in notification of a cyber insurance provider.
- Additionally, organizations should be equipped to carry out incident response plans. Before the holidays start, businesses should evaluate and update cybersecurity strategy and processes, including making sure contact information for key personnel is accurate. Organizations can also conduct internal assessments to make sure that everyone on the team is aware of the plans and their individual duties. Discussions can also be helpful in seeing potential holes in plans and addressing them before attacks take place.
- The IT professionals should make sure they are informed of vulnerabilities as soon as they are disclosed and that they are as quick in implementing vulnerability patches over the holidays as they are throughout the year. To ensure crucial updates released during the holidays are not overlooked or delayed, certain individuals should be designated to monitor alerts even when business is sluggish and/or many employees are not in the office.
URVASHI KIRAN, MARKETING OFFICER SENTINEL