The holiday season is a time of celebration and goodwill, but it’s also a time when cybercriminals ramp up their efforts to exploit organisations in any way they can. As you prepare for the festivities, it’s crucial to be aware of the cyber threats that could jeopardise your organisation’s safety. Below we outline the 12 cyber threats of Christmas to look out for and explain how to safeguard against them.
1. Phishing Scams
1st in the 12 cyber threats of Christmas is holiday-themed phishing emails; a common tactic employed by cybercriminals. These emails often impersonate trusted sources, such as banks or delivery services, and contain malicious links or attachments. Phishing simulation testing prepares employees for possible threats and primes them to always verify the authenticity of emails before taking any action.
2. Ransomware Attacks
The chaos of the holiday season can provide cover for ransomware attacks. Cybercriminals can encrypt your organisation’s data and demand a ransom for its release. Regular data backups and robust cybersecurity measures are essential to mitigate this threat and ensure you don’t get hit with a crippling bill this Christmas.
3. Online Shopping Scams
With many employees shopping online for gifts during work hours, they may become targets of online shopping scams. Cybercriminals create fake e-commerce websites or use fraudulent ads to trick employees into making purchases, potentially leading to individual financial losses and even company data breaches.
4. Social Engineering Attacks
Holiday-related information gathered from social media can be used to craft convincing scams. Cybercriminals may impersonate colleagues or vendors, urgently requesting payments or sensitive information. Employees should exercise caution and always verify the authenticity of these requests.
5. Insider Threats
The holiday season’s added stress can increase the risk of insider threats within your organisation. These threats may include data theft, fraud, or malicious actions by disgruntled employees. Implementing strict access controls and monitoring systems can help mitigate this risk.
6. Device Loss Or Theft
Employees may be more prone to losing their devices or having them stolen during the holiday season. If these devices contain sensitive business data, their loss can pose a significant security risk. Encourage employees to keep their devices secure and consider using tracking and remote wipe capabilities.
7. Unsecured Wi-Fi Networks
When employees travel or work remotely during the holidays, they may unknowingly connect to unsecured Wi-Fi networks in public areas such as in coffee shops, hotels or on public transport. These networks can expose them to data interception by cybercriminals. Encourage the use of VPNs and secure Wi-Fi connections when working remotely to mitigate this risk.
8. Gift Card Scams
Be cautious of gift card scams, where cybercriminals impersonate executives or colleagues to request gift card purchases for seemingly legitimate reasons. Always verify such requests through official channels and with multiple colleagues.
9. Malicious Downloads
Holiday-themed apps or screensavers can be tempting, but some of them may be concealing malware beneath the surface. Ensure that employees are educated about the risks of downloading software from untrusted sources and emphasise the importance of using official app stores or images sources.
10. Fake Charity Scams
Cybercriminals often use Christmas as a cover to set up fake charity websites during a time when your employees are feeling festive to exploit their generosity. Remind employees to verify the legitimacy of charitable organisations before making donations or following any links.
11. DDoS Attacks
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks can increase during the holidays, disrupting online services and causing financial losses. Implement DDoS mitigation measures to protect your online presence.
12. Security Updates And Patch Management
As the year draws to a close, many organisations may overlook the importance of keeping their software and systems up to date. Cybercriminals often exploit known vulnerabilities in outdated software during the holiday season when IT staff may be less available and defences are lowered. It’s essential to ensure that all systems, including remote working solutions, are fully patched and updated. Implementing a rigorous patch management policy will help to seal any security gaps and protect against potential cyber threats that exploit outdated systems.
12 Cyber Threats Of Christmas – Wrapped Up
While the holiday season is a time of joy and celebration, it’s essential to remain vigilant against cyber threats that can harm your business. By educating your employees, implementing robust cybersecurity measures, and staying informed about emerging threats, you can enjoy a secure and stress-free holiday season for your organisation.
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