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Is your business truly prepared for the onslaught of holiday cyber threats?

Updated: Dec 31, 2023

As the festive season approaches, hackers are sharpening their skills. Fine-tuning their tactics as well. All to take advantage of distracted, overwhelmed, and careless employees. Online shopping, remote workers, and generous holiday spirit all open the door to

  • Increased phishing attempts

  • Telephone scams

  • Ransomware, and more.

Make no mistake - cybercriminals view the season of giving as an opportunity. Opportunity to achieve their wildest professional dreams.

Don't be caught off guard when attackers strike at your people and systems. Now is the time to ensure your business has the defenses. Your training and vigilance need to emerge unscathed. Do you think an attack could never happen to your organization?

That's exactly the complacent attitude hackers hope for. Take steps to stay protected and avoid difficult conversations about preventable incidents.

This holiday season, resolve to be cyber secure. Your business and customers are counting on you.

Types of Holiday Cyber Threats

Phishing Emails and Scams

Phishing email

Could a carefully crafted email steal the holiday spirit right from under you?

The holiday season brings a flurry of online shopping, shipping notifications, and discounts. Savvy hackers leverage this increased traffic. How? By sending convincing phishing emails disguised as legitimate messages.

An urgent alert! Your package is delayed. Or a request to buy gift cards for employee bonuses. This may tempt even cyber-smart individuals to click and comply.

With AI tools, attackers can now easily generate customized, error-free messages. Those that convincingly replicate the tone and terminology of trusted brands. Even a moment of distraction or empathy could trigger a click. And that unleashes malware throughout your system. Once inside, data and assets held hostage for ransom suddenly become a perverse version of holiday “gift giving.”

Don't let a random act of kindness open the door to business catastrophe. Train employees to vigilantly verify all gift card requests, discounts, and shipping notifications. No matter how realistic they appear. Apply security awareness tips from holiday emails to all correspondence. Since attackers exploit our lowered guard this time of year. Remember, regarding when it comes to regarding when it comes to cyber protection, ‘tis the season for heightened awareness, not generosity.

Telephone Scams

Telephone Scam

Ask yourself this: Can a phone call unravel all your cybersecurity efforts in an instant?

Hackers increasingly turn to phone calls to give credibility to phishing attempts. A smooth voice... claiming you must act now to stop fraudulent activity on your credit card. This gives urgency to click email links or share credentials. Generative AI makes these social engineering calls tougher to identify. They improve scammer accents and conversational tone.

Your team may lower their defenses when calls seem to come from internal lines. Attackers use holidays to impersonate colleagues. They request help with gift card purchases or fake donations. A momentary lapse in judgment under pressure? This will lead to stolen credentials equating to a lost holiday for your business.

Train employees to pause before acting when contacted unexpectedly by phone. Verify all gift card and account requests. Do it through separate channels before providing any information or payments. Ensure customer service numbers are called back via trusted sources only. This season, make sure the only ones getting caught off guard are the scammers themselves.

MFA Bypass

MFA Bypass; Multi factor authentication bypass

Tell me: Could a simple shipping notification email permanently compromise your systems?

With more people checking online accounts for holiday package status, attackers leverage our distraction. Fake shipping emails drive victims to spoofing websites mimicking retailer logins. After capturing credentials, a follow-up page requests the MFA code to “confirm identity.” Those six digits finalize account takeover and data theft.

Generative AI makes these spoofed emails and websites increasingly convincing. Victims expect to enter codes frequently this time of year. Lowered awareness combined with high-volume high volume MFA requests trains people to comply, not verify. A few seconds of inattention, and customer data and company assets become the hacker’s holiday bounty.

Caution employees against entering credentials or MFA codes on unverified pages, regardless of design quality. Slow down and confirm website URLs before acting, especially when emotions and distractions run high. Take proactive measures to identify and shut down spoofed domains targeting your business. Remember, distraction is a hacker’s best friend, and prevention is the gift that keeps on giving.



Now think about this: Can a week of remote employees unleash a holiday ransomware attack?

Remote work and travel increase endpoints vulnerable to ransomware this season. Employees let guards down on home networks, click risky links from distraction, and expose new attack surfaces. Hackers need just one compromised login to infiltrate systems and trigger malicious encryption. Suddenly critical customer data, manufacturing pipelines, and revenue streams are frozen until ransom demands are met.

With a workforce worried about holiday deliverables, who has time to notice subtle Indicators of Compromise? Stressed, scattered, and anxious employees make mistakes. Attackers seize on this opportunity to target medical centers struggling to manage the patient influx, retailers managing supply chain deficits, and manufacturers meeting seasonal demand spikes. Lost profits and damaged reputation become unavoidable coal in the company’s stocking.

Enforce strict policies and security controls on remote work this holiday season. Closely monitor endpoints. Quickly update any systems still using soon-to-expire protocols like TLS 1.0. Conduct phishing simulations to keep awareness high. Pay the premium for experts to audit infrastructure and test defenses before downtime strikes. Remember, an ounce of holiday prevention is worth pounds of disruption, downtime, and difficult decisions after an attack.

Employee awareness is the ultimate holiday cybersecurity game-changer

Many businesses prioritize controls and monitoring to block complex attacks from outside. But holiday distractions open the door to disaster when simple mistakes by insiders trigger crippling compromise. 

That's why truly resilient organizations invest in regular, engaging security awareness training.

Roleplaying exercises prepare employees to spot and resist holiday social engineering with practiced confidence.

Comedy videos deliver serious lessons on phishing, telephone scams, and oversharing memorably in a memorable fashion.

Interactive modules injected with holiday themes keep cyber top of mind all season long. Arm your people with threat knowledge and they become your strongest defense.

Neglect continuous awareness education, and watch hackers steal your holiday cheer.

Review and Update Technical Security Controls

Up-to-date security controls provide essential additional protection from external threats this season.

Many attacks leverage compromised credentials, so implement multifactor authentication wherever possible.

Prune unnecessary access and enforce the least privilege to reduce attack surfaces.

Review firewall configurations and data loss prevention policies for gaps that may emerge with increased remote work and online activity.

Update antivirus signatures and filters to block the newest phishing lures and malware variants.

Apply the latest security patches across all endpoints and servers to eliminate known vulnerabilities.

Defense requires diligence - ensure yours is up to the holiday challenge.

Vigilant Monitoring and Rapid Response

Vigilant monitoring provides visibility that transforms awareness into action.

Closely track endpoints, networks, and cloud environments for any deviations from normal activity.

Follow threat feeds to stay on top of breaking techniques and tradecraft.

Watch for irregular outbound transfers, credential usage patterns, and endpoint connections that could signal compromise.

Holiday distractions sink in slowly, while breaches happen in seconds. Rapid response can contain incidents before they become headline-grabbing disasters.

Test Defenses with Ethical Hacking

Hire ethical hackers to test your preparedness before the holidays. Technical penetration tests and phishing simulations highlight vulnerabilities before attackers can exploit them.

Prioritize remediating critical findings. Learn how far an attacker could move within systems if they breach defenses.

Confirm that monitoring will detect your test compromises.

Ask experts to analyze architectural designs for flaws. Their holiday hacking enhances defenses.

Augment Overstretched Teams with Experts

Finally, don't go it alone. Augment overstretched internal teams with partners offering deep experience combating the latest threats year-round.

Maintain your focus on serving customers and running daily operations. Let specialized security firms monitor emerging techniques, freeing your IT team from burnout.

Their vigilance, expertise, and resources become your holiday secret weapons.

A Layered Defense Protects Your Holiday Cheer

This holiday season, commit to continuous awareness, vigilant monitoring, and proactive partnerships. With preparation, teamwork, and resilience, your business can stare down cyber Grinches seeking to steal cheer and prosperity.

Your defense-in-depth leaves them staring at coal while you reap rewards.

In the end

I confess, that reading about the relentless threats this holiday season leaves me unsettled.

But it's for good reason. We must shake off complacency and denial to secure our most precious assets - our businesses, employees, partners, and customers.

Caution and preparation are crucial to surviving these risky months intact. Prioritizing awareness, updating defenses, and monitoring activity helps avoid devastating attacks. 

Consider partnering with us. Because at Trident Info Sec, we stay vigilant year-round. 

This season, stay frosty and laser-focused on protection. Refuse to become another statistic.

Our prosperity depends on it. Are you in?

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