‘Tis the season for togetherness, sweet treats, and … increased cybersecurity risk?
Unfortunately, the winter holidays are a time of year when individuals and businesses face a surge in threats to their data and wallets. That’s right, cyber threats don’t take a holiday! In the US alone, almost 12,000 victims reported non-payment/non-delivery scams to the FBI during the 2022 holiday shopping season, leading to $73 million in financial loss.
How does this happen? During this period, we typically spend much more time online and are more distracted from the stress of wrapping up our year and our excitement over some much-needed vacation. Well, hackers know this and are looking to exploit that increased vulnerability.
In response, every business should take steps to secure their data against holiday-related disruptions—no matter your industry. Keep reading to learn effective data backup and protection strategies to help you and your employees stay vigilant and enjoy a safe holiday season.
The risk of a cyberattack is an uncheerful reality that threatens to ruin our holiday fun if we’re not careful. At this time of year, businesses face a wide range of threats, including:
During this period, e-commerce businesses typically depend on a boost in revenue generated by customers shopping for their gifts—so they need their systems intact for that to happen. For ransomware attackers, this moment is more appealing to strike since businesses are likely to pay the ransom in their urgency to keep operations running smoothly. The proof is in the figgy pudding: research has shown that when you compare attempted ransomware attacks in January and February to November and December, businesses saw an increase of 70%.
Social engineering attacks are also more likely to affect your business this holiday season. Employees are less cautious, more emotional, and tired. Therefore, they are more susceptible to making mistakes or falling victim to tricky phishing messages. Smishing, aka SMS-phishing, is a particularly effective method for cybercriminals, with malicious links sent via text getting a click-through rate between 8.9 -14.5%, compared to a 1.33% average click-through rate for emails. This type of attack may look like a fake text from a financial institution about an alleged banking issue, a notification from a shipping company about a delivery, or even a colleague asking about a work problem.
With the increased travel, your employees also raise their risk of encountering a juice-jacking attack: a data-stealing method where malicious actors compromise cables at public charging stations in places like airports, train stations, and shopping malls.
What happens if your employees fall for these scams or plug their phones into the wrong place? Hackers can access their accounts and devices, potentially exposing your business’s confidential data. Learn more about the potential outcomes in our guide to what hackers do with your stolen data.
You don’t want to deal with a cyberattack destroying your festive atmosphere. A work crisis is not the gift you want to bring home for your family! So, how can you prevent unauthorized access, protect your financial well-being and reputation, and provide continued system availability to keep your employees productive? By proactively implementing evidence-based IT support strategies, such as:
The weather outside may be frightful, but your experience with your IT infrastructure can be delightful—if your organization prioritizes data backup in your cybersecurity strategy! So if a cyberattack, system failure, accidental deletion, or another disaster leads to data loss, you get extra protection. Then, you’ll be able to quickly restore data so it’s available for your critical operations.
Your organization should schedule regular backups to capture your data’s most recent version so your team can operate on the most accurate information. Automated backups can also offload the work from individual team members and help ensure a consistent and efficient process. A robust backup strategy also includes storing your backup data in multiple locations, whether on-premises or off-site. For instance, cloud storage gives organizations a scalable solution for adjusting their data backups based on fluctuating storage needs.
Remember, you should always test and validate your backup process to know your system functions correctly.
Deck the halls with firewalls! And, of course, a whole lot more. A robust cybersecurity posture combines various measures to attack your risk from all angles.
24/7 real-time monitoring will help you swiftly identify and address potential infrastructure issues, whether a security breach or a performance instability. Regularly updating and patching your software can also help eliminate any vulnerabilities a hacker can exploit.
And if Santa checks his lists twice, why shouldn’t your authentication systems do the same? Implementing multi-factor authentication is an easy tactic your team can quickly implement to provide additional barriers to your critical data.
Most importantly, you must provide user awareness training to your employees so that they have the necessary skills and knowledge to recognize and avoid security threats. Your team should know about the latest phishing techniques and social engineering tactics to eliminate the human vulnerability that helps criminals successfully breach your system. Additionally, if you experience a cyberattack, your team should understand how to discover a hack early to mitigate the damage. Make sure they know these red flags to watch for this holiday season.
Let’s say Santa does deliver a cyberattack to your business this holiday season. How do you cope with it? Ideally, your organization would have prepared an incident response plan in advance so you have a pre-defined blueprint for recovering successfully.
Unfortunately, most companies have a poor incident response approach, with 77% of organizations reporting that they don’t consistently apply a formal incident response plan. So, it’s beyond time to take this critical cybersecurity measure seriously!
This plan would give you a structured and organized approach to handling the crisis, outlining your steps for containing and eradicating the problem. What are your employees’ roles and responsibilities? How will you communicate about the incident to relevant stakeholders?
A good incident response plan also considers the future and the steps you should take to identify and then fortify any vulnerabilities that caused the accident to happen in the first place. The proactive cybersecurity measures discussed above will also be critical for helping you address emergencies quickly and effectively.
Given the rising sophistication and amount of cyberattacks, data protection should be a year-round priority for every organization beyond the holiday season. Maintaining a secured technology infrastructure can prepare you to stay resilient when facing emerging threats.
When you partner with PC Corp for our IT services, our experts will implement flexible and security solutions to address your unique business needs and objectives. We will implement a multi-layered Zero-trust defense that leverages industry-proven tools to protect your vital information and systems. Our proudly Alberta-based team is also ideally situated to provide valuable local support to businesses in Calgary and Edmonton.
Contact us to discuss how we can build you a robust IT infrastructure that keeps your data safe every day of the year.