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Don’t let fraudsters ruin your Christmas

Cybercrime has risen significantly in the past decade. Both businesses and consumers fall foul to attacks every year as criminals are regularly devising intelligent systems to trick individuals into clicking a link or downloading malicious files.

Some recent commercial cases have highlighted the impact of such breaches, including one of the biggest data breaches in history at Yahoo. Back in 2014, it was reported that approximately half a billion users had information stolen including passwords and phone numbers, plus a further 3 billion in the previous year. The cost of this to Yahoo? A staggering $50 million settlement to approximately 200 million affected users.

For businesses, this type of breach can have serious and costly effects in the long-term. Not only do you have to protect your systems and reputation, but you also have a duty of care to protect that of your customer’s information too.

This type of crime can happen at anytime. However, during the holiday season businesses can be exposed to a greater risk of malicious activity. Take a look at why and how you can prevent it in your company:

Why are businesses vulnerable to cyber attacks during the festive season?

The holiday season often brings a period of shutdown for many businesses. Many companies are closed for a week or more. However, although your staff deserve a well-earned break during this time, a full closure could potentially open you up to unscrupulous attention while your premises and systems are unmonitored.

Other activity to watch out for in the lead up the Christmas

In many cases, malicious activity isn’t immediately obvious. As people get into the festive mood, a momentary lapse in judgment could mean an email is opened or file downloaded that contains a virus. Spend the time to make everyone aware of how fraudsters may target you.

Some examples to watch out for and monitor include:

·      Holiday e-cards from clients or customers

·      Phishing emails

·      Employees accessing unsecured websites on company computers

·      Downloading fake upgrades  

It’s also important to note that mobile devices are not exempt from cyber attacks and could potentially open up your network to hackers.  Ensuring your company policies and mobile device management software are up to date can prevent or detect and issue before hackers have time to do too much damage.

The steps you can take to reduce risks to your business

Although cybercrime can happen at anytime, it’s essential to remain vigilant during times of shutdown such as the festive period. To help reduce any malicious activity while you enjoy your turkey, take a look at some of the steps to consider:

Risk assessment

Every business should complete regular security audit which includes IT infrastructure. Alongside the theoretical side,it is also important to physically test the security. Penetration testing and ethical hacking should both be regularly done to ensure measures are effective.  

Contingency plans

Alongside your risk assessment, a contingency plan needs to be in place to mitigate loss and provide alternative solutions. If you have a plan B, any breaches can be dealt with swiftly and stemmed before causing further disruption.

Building resilience into regular working practices is makes switching to a disaster recovery plan much less disruptive.  

Proactive network monitoring

Detecting an intruder, or Distributed Denial of Service (DDos) attack early can limit the impact.  Having network sniffers checking for any unusual activity will assist with this. Using SD-WAN or SD-LAN, you can now implement much smarter algorithmic based warning systems to detect changes. These can now use machine learning to understand the ‘business as usual’ebb and flow of your networks and be far more effective in finding issues.  

Skeleton staff cover

Depending on your company size, it maybe helpful to have a skeleton staff over the festive period. This provision ensures that systems and premises are monitored, and any issues are highlighted immediately to avoid interruption to operations.

The number of data breaches in the US saw nearly 179 million records exposed during 2017. Also, the average loss to businesses in 2015 equated to approximately $28 million. These staggering figures showcase just how important it is to implement effective systems and cybercrime prevention in all company processes.

Sources:

http://fortune.com/2018/10/24/yahoo-settlement-data-breach/

https://www.statista.com/topics/2588/us-consumers-and-cyber-crime/

https://www.statista.com/statistics/273550/data-breaches-recorded-in-the-united-states-by-number-of-breaches-and-records-exposed/

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