Since Black Friday came to pass, shoppers are gearing up for the holidays by shopping online more than ever. In fact, a record $11.3 billion dollars were spent online during Cyber Monday sales. However, along with the gifts and festivities, a far more nefarious trend has come alongside the holiday season: an increased number of cyber-attacks against consumers and businesses alike, ranging in type, from ransomware and malware, to phishing attacks. With this in mind, it’s important to understand why the holiday season coincides with an increased risk of cyber-attacks and what you can do to protect your organization and yourself from harm.
One reason that cybercriminal activity upticks during the holiday season is because increased shopping online gives more opportunities to strike. This increase in online shopping puts more customer data into the hands of businesses, making these organizations a more valuable target for attackers to breach. Attackers are aware of the importance holiday shopping can play for a company’s bottom line. The influx of earnings that are brought in at this time leads companies to be far more likely to pay ransom during the holidays to avoid interruption during a critical period. Additionally, companies typically have more money on hand to pay attackers during the holiday season.
Another factor that makes the holiday season an especially vulnerable time is that organizations are often focused on driving sales leading up to Christmas, and cybersecurity initiatives can end up taking a backseat. Furthermore, employees may be rushing to fulfill deadlines before the holiday break, leading to regressing into to poor password habits that may put your organization’s data at risk. Phishing attacks, a massive driver of cyber-attacks, are also more likely to be successful during this time, as inboxes are already being flooded with fliers and promotions. These factors can leave your organization at an increased risk for an attack. In fact, the Global Risks Report released by the World Economic Forum implicated human error as the cause of 95% of cybersecurity breaches.
Lastly, potential attackers know that companies tend to slow down and go on a break during the holidays, meaning that a successful attack can be more damaging as it is likely to go unnoticed for a longer period than during regular working hours.
So, how can your organization brace for the holiday season? Keeping cybersecurity at top of mind for employees is one of the most important things you can do. Amplifying training, raising awareness, and reiterating security policies will help to achieve that.
Utilizing professionals at Identity And Access Solutions to help harden your defenses, add layers of security, and continuously test your defenses will ensure that your organization can stand up to this busy time for cyber criminals, and beyond into the new year, ensuring you have a happy holiday season.