holiday cyber threats

Holiday Cyber Threats Loom

It is the holiday shopping season and Black Friday is just days away. This time of year, more people shop online with their credit cards than any other time of year. Criminals are well aware of this and hatch their strategies around the increase in ecommerce traffic during this season. Although shopping is a personal activity that “should” take place outside of the work environment, employees often shop on their downtime, subjecting work devices to these vulnerabilities.

This year. two federal agencies, The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), issued warnings ahead of the shopping season about cyber security threats from China.

Larger businesses tend to enforce strict cybersecurity protocols and invest time and money educating their staff to recognize cyber security threats and avoid practices that expose personal or sensitive information. But the smaller companies that are not working as hard to take these steps can be hit hard by a cyber security mishap that destroys their company data or steals customer information. They leave themselves open for lawsuits, loss of business and worse.

Some easy-to-implement precautions include:

  • Do not use names or birthdays in passwords. Make them more difficult to guess, using eight or more letters and characters.
  • Inform employees not to click on links and how to recognize phishing emails. Common schemes this time of year include impersonating charities or big brands.
  • Confirm the authority of people contacting you by phone requesting usernames and passwords. Hackers often use information they find online to gain the victim’s trust and extract more information. That may include workplace, names of co-workers, addresses, email addresses, etc.

Ransomware is a very common problem businesses face. The business is compelled to pay large sums of money or have their data destroyed. The pipeline hack earlier this year exposed how vulnerable some of our resources are because they are accessible by internet connection.

Tremendous resources back state sponsored threats, versus the proverbial hacker living in his mother’s basement. The outcomes could be more consequential and are likely to target sources that could cripple resources Americans rely on for everyday life. This is what modern-day warfare looks like; it has become a battle of digital information through internet connection. And if a foreign government were to attack our water, gas lines or electric grid, there would be a rippled effect throughout society.

We can all do our part to reduce the risk of exposure to cyber attacks in the workplace. Hackers will continue to get more sophisticated in their frauds and as responsible business owners, you must ensure your employees are educated to stay up to date with the latest threats.