‘Tis the Season – for an Increase in Cyber Crimes

employee frustrated at cyber crime increase in cyber attacks

The holiday season is marked by joyous celebrations and festive spirits, both for companies and individuals; it’s a time to relax and recharge for the new year.

However, it’s also a time for a surge in cyber crimes across the digital landscape. The FBI and Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) saw increased ransomware attacks during the holidays and weekends when offices were closed.

Discover why the holidays mark an uptick in cyber attacks so you can prepare against them and have a safe, secure holiday season.

Read: IT Best Practices for the Holiday Season

Why Cyber Crime Increases During the Holidays

There are a few reasons why cyber crimes increase during the holidays:

  • Online shopping frenzy: The holiday season sees a significant increase in online shopping as people hunt for the perfect gifts at discounted prices. However, this also means that valuable customer data, like credit card details, is out there to steal. Cyber criminals capitalize on this surge, deploying phishing scams and fake online stores. From the business perspective, they are often overrun and straining to handle the influx of customers, leaving them vulnerable to cyber criminals.
  • Work-related vulnerabilities: During the holidays, more and more staff take time off to be with friends and family. As remote work becomes more prevalent, employees may let their guard down during the holidays, and human error causes 95% of cyber breaches. Workers can also be overwhelmed with last-minute tasks or distracted with thoughts of Thanksgiving turkeys and Christmas gifts, not the job right in front of them. Cyber criminals target these remote or distracted staff, aiming to exploit potential security gaps and human error to gain unauthorized access.
  • Increased financial donations: With the spirit of giving, people are more prone to making charitable donations. Cyber criminals can exploit this generosity by creating fake charity websites, GoFundMe campaigns or phishing emails to deceive individuals into providing their financial information. You can check for legitimate charities at give.org.
  • Travel-related scams: Many travel during the holidays, and cyber criminals take advantage of this by launching scams related to travel bookings. They publish fake accommodation websites and phishing emails posing as travel agencies.

Which Specific Cyber Attacks Are on the Rise?

Four main types of cyber crimes drastically increase during the holidays.

  • Phishing scams: Cyber criminals design convincing phishing messages that mimic legitimate holiday-related communications, offers and deals, enticing users to click on malicious links, download suspicious attachments or provide sensitive information, like financial information or login credentials. By copying legitimate corporations, the victim believes the message is authentic. Plus, users may not scrutinize emails as much as they should during the holidays.
  • Ransomware attacks: Businesses are particularly vulnerable to ransomware attacks during the holidays when key personnel are away and security measures are less stringent. Attackers exploit vulnerabilities and encrypt critical data before demanding a ransom for its release. Most companies are more willing to pay the ransom when this happens because they can’t afford to lose valuable data or experience disrupted operations during these hectic times.
  • Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks: DDoS attacks are when cyber criminals overwhelm a company with traffic so their website stalls or crashes. This interrupts business operations and resources, frustrating real customers and leading to lost revenue and productivity. Given the strained networks and high traffic volumes during the holidays, DDoS attacks are easy for cyber criminals.
  • Gift card scams: Cyber criminals love gift cards because they are easy to buy and almost impossible to trace. Fraudsters often use the allure of gift cards as bait, sending phishing messages that prompt individuals to purchase and share gift card details, which lead to financial losses.

Thriveon During the Holidays

At Thriveon, we understand how important it is to keep your company safe during the busy holiday season. That’s why we offer managed IT and cybersecurity services that protect your valuable data and information from cyber criminals.

For more information on our services, schedule a meeting with us now.

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