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Written by Benoit Suire on 20 December 2022

Protect Yourself Online During The Holidays

Cybercrime Increases During the Holiday Season

Cybercriminals don’t take vacations, but they are expecting you to! According to a Darktrace report last year, cyberattacks increase globally during the holiday season. In addition, the researchers observed a 70% average increase in attempted ransomware attacks in November and December compared to January and February. Following a record number of ransomware attacks this year, the company expects the spike to be higher over the 2021 holiday period. To quote the Christmas carol: “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” for them: expecting reduced staff that makes your organization vulnerable, sending you phishing/smishing campaigns full of Christmas wishes and suspicious links. The list goes on! 

cybersecurity santa

Protect Yourself from Phishing Scams over the Holidays

Cybercriminals know companies are "less responsive" during the holiday season and therefore tend to strike. They can send emails asking them to buy a physical gift card and send the code on the voucher to them. With Business Email Compromise (BEC), they pretend to be an executive in your business. 

Be vigilant, especially that the number of these types of emails increases greatly with Christmas celebrations. 

Christmas messages from untrusted sources ask users to click a link, open a PDF, play an audio, or video file, etc. 

Even if you trust the source, they may have been compromised! 

  • Avoid clicking links on emails from unfamiliar senders or links that don't make it clear where they will lead you to. 
  • Look for reviews about the company from reliable sources, and check email addresses against others you have received in the past. 
  • https:// - doesn't necessarily mean the website is legitimate, but it does mean the connection between you and the website is encrypted. 
  • https:// - doesn't guarantee that your information can't be intercepted but it is definitely better to have it than not. 

Darktrace observed a 30% increase in the average number of ransomware attacks over the holiday period, compared to the monthly average last year. Regular back-ups of your systems and data will enable quick restoration of business functions. 

Make sure you have a solid resilience plan in place designed to help you prepare, detect, respond, and recover from cyber incidents. Update your software regularly to make sure you’re running with the latest security features and patches. Make sure your devices are safe with strong passwords: use a secure password at least 12 characters long, including upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters. Better yet, use a passphrase, a combination of four or more random words that’s over 15 characters long. This password or passphrase should be unique to every other password you have. Never use it anywhere else. Utilize multi-factor authentication mechanisms. 

To reduce the chances of a breach, implement a zero-trust security architecture, which limits privileges, and requires all actors within a network to be authenticated in some way before being granted access to data.

Happy Holidays!

Benoit Suire
Member of the Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) Team

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