Protect your business and yourself from cyber threats this holiday season

Blog Post

Cybersecurity threats are ever more prevalent in today’s world, and even more so during the holiday season. It is critically important individuals and businesses take steps to protect their personal information and other data during the holidays. In this blog we discuss three common cyber threats that may affect you or your business during the holiday season.

Individual cyber threats during the holidays

  1. Phishing scams  - Phishing is a type of social engineering where an attacker sends a fraudulent message designed to trick a person into revealing sensitive information to the attacker, or to deploy malicious software on the victim’s computer.

    During this holiday season you may receive emails or text messages from third parties about your finances or possible purchases made using your payment card information. Messages may appear to be from legitimate senders, and messages with typos or misspelled words are common signs they could be a scam. Be cautious in opening any links or attachments, and review your bank statements for unauthorized charges or activity. Call your bank if you suspect any unauthorized activity in your financial accounts. Additionally, do not share your pin or CVV numbers with anyone.

  2. Gift cards and giveaways -  Scammers may try and trick you into buying a gift card, sometimes disguising themselves as a known contact, and offering prizes or other compensation for providing them with your payment card or financial information. If you receive an email or text from another person asking to buy them a gift card, you should verify with them by calling first.
  3. SIM swapping - SIM swapping is a relative new type of cyber threat where a scammer duplicates your cell phone SIM card, impersonates your identity, and accesses your bank account. The scammer will usually obtain personal information about you from public sources, such as your name, date of birth, email, and address. Next, the scammer will call your wireless provider, verify your information, and pretend to be you in order to transfer your phone number to a new SIM card and device.

    To protect yourself against SIM Swapping, ensure you do not provide your personal data in calls, emails or text messages. Delete social media profiles you no longer use, and limit the amount of personal information in your cell phone. Additionally, do not link your bank account to your phone number, or provide your payment card PIN number to third parties.

Business cyber threats during the holidays

Business cyber threats including ransomware are more prevalent during the holiday season. Below are ways to mitigate the chance your organization may be affected by a crippling cyber-attack.

  1. Patch critical vulnerabilities - Ensure your organization’s software and firmware has all up to date patches before the holidays. Ransomware groups commonly exploit vulnerabilities in antivirus, firewall, and VPN software, and ensuring such software has up to date patches can mitigate the chance for a cyber-attack.
  2. Revisit data retention procedures - The end of the year is a good opportunity to consider reviewing the organization’s data retention procedures, and what may be deleted prior to the start of the New Year. Organizations without data retention procedures who fall victim to ransomware, phishing, or other malware attacks risk compromising data several years old that likely need not be maintained for any business purpose. This may increase the business’s legal liability.
  3. Consider multi-factor or two factor authentication - Additional user authentication procedures are one of the most cost effective ways to add an additional layer of security to mitigate cyber-attacks. Cyber attackers commonly gain access to the network environment through a user or administrator account that does not have additional authentication procedures. Once access is obtained, attackers may remain in systems for weeks or months before carrying out their plan. Now is the time to implement multi-factor or two-factor authentication across the network environment. 

Cyber attacks are on the rise, and will continue in the years to come. We encourage everyone to be vigilant in safeguarding their personal or confidential data, and to review their online accounts during the holiday season.

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