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Why Do Cyber Crimes Increase Around the Holidays?

‘Tis the season for cyberattacks! While hard workers use their PTO to go on vacations and spend time with family and friends, cyber criminals are working overtime to deliver cyberattacks. The FBI reported an increase in the number of ransomware attacks during holidays and over the weekends (days that the FBI offices are closed).  So why the spike in attacks and what can you do to avoid a cyberattack this holiday season? 

Increased Online Activity

People tend to be online more often around the holiday season shopping, managing bank accounts, and connecting with family and friends. This increased online activity provides more opportunities for cyber criminals to exploit vulnerabilities in systems and networks. 

During the holidays, increased online shopping and year-end bonus spending contribute to heightened transactions and organizational activity. According to Verizon’s 2023 DBIR, 70% of payment card breaches originated from web applications, with another 8% coming from PoS servers. Amidst the chaos of planning for the upcoming year, managing system monitoring and resources becomes challenging, providing cybercriminals with opportunities to exploit vulnerabilities. 

Targeted Holiday Scams

Cyber criminals know that people have their eyes out for one thing during the holiday season: money saving deals. Most scams during the holiday season are sent via email, better known as phishing emails. Cyber criminals will create fake emails with deals that are too good to be true but trick consumers into clicking on them. Once the emails are clicked on, dangerous malware is spread without the user even knowing. Gift cards are popular holiday gifts, and cyber criminals often target them for scams. They may steal gift card information or create fake gift card websites to trick users into providing personal and financial information. 

Distraction and Rush During the Holiday Season

 The holiday season can be hectic and stressful, leading people to lower their guard and be more susceptible to scams. With the stress of the holidays, individuals may overlook warning signs of phishing attempts or fall for social engineering tactics more easily. Delayed response times give cyber criminals more time to amplify their impact on your environment, which could lead to a full system down event. 

Travel and Remote Work on the Rise

Travel is on the rise during the holiday season and many people work remotely, accessing public Wi-Fi networks that may not be secure. This increases the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access to sensitive information. It’s crucial for all employees to understand the risk they pose for their organization when they send that one last email from the airport before flying out for their Christmas vacation. 

Data Breaches and Identity Theft are the Gift That Keeps on Giving

 Cyber criminals target businesses during the holiday season to steal customer data, such as credit card information and personal details, which can be used for identity theft or sold on the dark web. The holiday season is the most popular time for people to take time off, including IT professionals. Organizations who manage their IT in-house may have fewer people on staff or no one on call monitoring their endpoint detection and response solution. Because of this, they are not prepared to respond quickly to alerts that may indicate a threat actor is trying to access their environment or contain an in-progress cyber-attack during the holiday season. 

Protect your business this holiday season

 

Prepare for cyberattacks

Have a disaster plan in place and educate stakeholders on their roles. Consider an incident response retainer for instant access to a cybersecurity team. 

Keep systems up to date

Regularly back up critical data and test restoration processes to minimize downtime in case of an attack. 

Outsource cybersecurity

Consider hiring a managed security service provider (MSSP) to leverage expert knowledge and resources for 24/7 protection. 

Implement cloud email security

Adopt a tool to scan emails and files for malicious activity, enhancing protection against phishing and malware threats.

Plan For the Unpredictable This Holiday Season 

The only surprise you receive this holiday season should be wrapped in paper, not lurking in your inbox. Entara offers complete, integrated IT and cybersecurity solutions tailored to your company’s unique needs and challenges. In addition to the managed IT and cybersecurity services we offer as an eXtended Service Provider, our 24/7 incident response team works day, night, and holidays to help businesses recover from cyberattacks and remediate their systems to avoid a repeat event. We employ a range of security integrations and technology services to better protect our clients’ system, network, and data. Connect with us to learn more about how we can support your organization during this holiday season. 

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