Protecting your organization from outside threats should always be a top priority. However, you may need to shore up your security as we approach the holiday season. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) report an increase in devastating ransomware attacks during the holidays — when offices are normally closed. Below, we’ll discuss the 5 cybersecurity tips to protect your data during this vulnerable time.
Cybersecurity Tips for the Holidays
1. Take Extra Caution With Suspicious Messages
During the holiday season, it’s likely that you'll receive messages containing promotional content — such as Black Friday advertisements — across your email accounts and social platforms. Although many of these messages are from legitimate companies looking to gain your business, you’re bound to find a few black coals in the mix. Threat actors will see the influx of emails as the perfect cover for sending infected links and malware right to your inbox, hidden in plain sight.
To protect your organization, make sure you and your employees comply with the following cybersecurity tips for messages:
- Never open any promotional emails when you are on your organization’s network.
- Check the sender’s email address, sender name, and website URL for accuracy without clicking on any links.
- Be aware of suspicious messages, including through email, SMS, social media direct messages, and on instant messengers.
- If you wish to contact the sender, look online for the company’s phone number.
Hosting cyber security training for your employees can improve overall cyber intelligence and mitigate the risk of negligent insider breaches.
2. Have an Incident Response Plan
Holiday hours and seasonal vacations can leave organizations unmanned and vulnerable. Ensure that your assets are being monitored with the right cybersecurity tools and have an Incident Response Plan (IRP) in place to quickly mitigate disaster in the event of a data breach.
If you already have an IRP, make sure you keep it updated and have consulted with cybersecurity experts to be ready for no matter what threat actors think of next.
3. Backup Your Data Offline
To prepare for the worst, regularly back up and encrypt your organizational data. Ensure that your organization's regularly scheduled cybersecurity protocols take into account the risk of possible disruption to your backup procedures during holidays. Additionally, consider a routine vulnerability assessment before the flurry of holiday activity so you are protected both on and offline.
4. Prepare Your Organization for an Influx of Data
The best way to be prepared is to stay prepared. Be ready for cyber threats by anticipating — and planning for — any potential breaches.
With an influx of incoming data as well as a rise in cyber threats around the holiday season, investing in penetration testing — pentesting for short — is a great option to ensure that your servers are equipped to handle any data spikes.
Additionally, you can use these cybersecurity tips for safely managing your network:
- Filter out malicious IP addresses to protect the flow of network traffic.
- Use URL block and allow lists to safeguard employees against malicious websites.
- Scan your network and close any ports that aren’t needed.
It’s advisable to take these steps as soon as possible so that you can make any adjustments required to protect yourself, your employees, and your organization.
5. Know How To Identify Suspicious Online Activity
There are several types of threats that could put your organization at risk. Aside from ransomware, password attacks, and SQL injections, be on the lookout for all types of social engineering — when a threat actor tricks an individual into performing a desired action or providing personal information. Social engineering can include:
- Phishing and Spear Phishing
- And more
Make sure your employees know what actions to take — and what actions not to take — should they see suspicious online activity while browsing the web for holiday deals.
Elevate Your Security by Recognizing the Threats
When you know what potential vulnerabilities are within your organization’s infrastructure, you can take the right measures to safeguard against the seasonal surge of cyber threats. Learn how to avoid cyber threats one step at a time: download your free cybersecurity checklist to get started.