Though it may be the last thing on our minds right now, the reality is, cyber attacks tend to peak during the Christmas period. As we drop our guard, hackers rise to the opportunity. A survey by Cybereason showed that 86% of cybersecurity professionals across the globe indicated a concern for repeat cyber intrusions over this year's festive season, with 36% stating they had no specific contingency plans in place for a response. Don’t let cyber criminals have the final sleigh. Get protected, and fast!
For most, Christmas is the time of giving, spreading festive cheer and showing love. But for cyber criminals, it’s the prime time to stock up on opportunities to take advantage of our weaknesses. Santa’s not the only one who can sneak in undetected - cyber criminals can do it too, and dare we say it, but they can do it better. So, whilst we’re sporting our Christmas jumpers, celebrating over a glass of Champagne and winding down for a well-needed break, hackers are ready and waiting to attack, preying on our unattended critical systems.
To mitigate the risk of cyber threats for your organisation, it’s important to invest in solid security plans that’ll keep you protected when you need it most. After all, cyber security solutions are for life, not just for Christmas. As the gift that keeps on giving, you’ll want to make sure you’ve bagged yours in time.
With reduced teams and interim IT skeleton staff to cover the workload, businesses could be leaving themselves vulnerable to attack. As we switch off for the festive break, priorities shift. At this point, cybersecurity may no longer be at the top of the list, but it sure needs to be. Where critical systems, networks and data are left unsupervised, hackers are granted their Christmas wish: easy targets with easy access.
The Christmas period sees huge increases in retail e-commerce activity, and off the back of this, cybercriminals thrive. By posing as reputable, legitimate companies, hackers can have you in the palm of their hand in just one click. As 80% of cyber attacks start through phishing, it won’t be hard for hackers to worm their way through the mass emails hitting your inbox. We can put our feet up and enjoy our downtime, whilst simultaneously being vigilant. And businesses aren’t exempt from this, as harmful emails can catch you out in the most unsuspecting ways. Go check that those spam filters are on-point!
It may sound obvious, but with desks unoccupied for some time, it’ll be a good idea to ensure that confidential information is filed away. Don’t leave passwords out on post-it for all to see, as you never know what prying Scrooges might have access. The same goes for data-storing devices like USB sticks and hard drives, keep them locked away! The more attentive we are, the better we can stay protected.
Step into Christmas with these top tips on how to safeguard your staff and business over the festive break.
• Implement incident response plans in case of emergency. If your cyber strategy isn’t strong enough to counteract an attack or you haven’t had the opportunity to identify areas of weakness, your systems will likely be vulnerable to infiltration. Arm your teams with technical response capabilities to prepare for an attack at all times.
• Educate both permanent and temporary staff on common cyber security best practices. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to ward off potential threats. It’s a joint effort, after all. It can take just one click to but the whole business at risk. Ensure these practices are communicated clearly and effectively amongst your organisation.
• Perform regular patch and system updates to repair vulnerabilities and flaws within versions, upgrades and features. We want to be lighting up our trees, not our vulnerabilities.
• Enable two-factor authentication across critical systems and programs to avoid letting in you-know-who. Ensure you’ve invested in password management for a safe place to keep all your logins whilst you're away, as writing them down will no longer do. Think about implementing identity and access management tools to let the right users in, and keep the wrong ones out. We see you, logging in from home…
• Be wary of connecting to public Wi-Fi networks whilst you’re browsing as that will make it easier for criminals to get hold of your private data due to easily-accessible networks.
• Apply good cyber hygiene learnt at work at home, too! Cybercriminals don’t just target cooperations, but every one of us, at any time. Think about your increased device use this Christmas, as it’s easy to get caught off guard when you’re least expecting it.
The negative impact that a cyber attack can have on your business is disastrous. With such long-lasting damage, you’ll more likely be cursed this New Year than blessed if your company takes a hit. Having a strong cyber plan in place might seem like a big stretch and dent on your bank balance, but believe us when we say it’s probably the most worthwhile thing you'll ever do for your business. If you don’t, yule sure be sorry. Invest in long-term protection to avoid the following:
• Long-term reputational and legal damage
• Financial loss affecting the operation of the wider business with budgets adjusted and projects paused to counteract the impact
• An unmotivated, disgruntled workforce for having to work overtime to investigate the incident and recover what was lost
• Loss of customer loyalty, sales and trust
• Business leaders experiencing feelings of regret thanks to hindsight, having not invested in cyber security
According to the National Institute for Standards and Technology, 2021 is already a record year for cyber vulnerabilities, on a five-year high. As cyber strategies and solutions strengthen, and the number of skilled professionals in the field increase, ringing in the New Year with a statistical break doesn’t seem as big an ask. Cybercrime is an ongoing battle, one that we won’t win without putting in extra time, effort and dedication from collective resources. So, if you haven’t invested in security solutions to safeguard your business, there’s no better time than now. Or, if you’re managing to stay on top of it, keep it going! Don’t let cybercriminals take the happy out of the new year, for ‘tis the season to be jolly, not melancholy.
At Infosec K2K, we’re here to help whatever stage of the cyber security journey you’re on, as keeping your assets protected is our utmost priority. The last thing we’d want is for you to take a hit this festive season. For prevention from attack, our Security Operations Centre and Vulnerability Management solutions are the perfect gift. Or, for those who’ve already been affected, we’ll help you to get back on track with our Crisis Response plan and Consultancy services for support all-year-round. Unwrap the gift of the year for your business, get in touch with our expert teams to get started.