Be Aware of Ransomware Attacks This Holiday Season

The holiday season is here, and online activity is at its peak. But as employees prepare to take time off to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones, cybercriminals will be working hard to steal value data. Cybercriminals are always hyperactive during the holiday season, knowing just when to carry out a cyberattack. The idea is to catch an organization’s IT staff off-guard while they are distracted or unavailable. That’s why the holiday season is a lucrative period for ransomware attacks.

Why do cyberattacks increase during the holiday season?

Most organizations offices are shut or with limited staff during holidays. Unsupervised IT networks and systems offer easier access, opportunities, and ample time for threat actors mobilize their attack plans.

Also, since holidays are when revenues surge, there is a higher chance of sales and new releases. The consumer is more likely to have their guard down expecting new deals and could fall prey to phishing attacks as well.

How to protect your organization?

To help protect your organization overcome a potential ransomware attack during the holiday season, follow these tips:

  • Mandate Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and Change Passwords- Most employees tend to use the same password across different accounts and devices. Ask your employees the last time they changed their passwords, or if they use a variety of passwords. Cybercriminals use compromised credentials from other breaches to create new ones, so forcing a reset before the festive season can keep out bad actors. In addition, ensure your organization has enabled MFA. Multi-factor Authentication minimizes risk from illegitimate attempts to gain access into key systems.
  • Ensure Key IT Employees Are Reachable- During the holiday season you do not want to be stranded with no one to act in the event of a cyberattack. Ensure you have some staff ready and available during the holidays. It’s crucial to have key responders ready to go, the bit of overtime or on-call pay is well worth it.
  • Implement An Endpoint Detection and Response Solution (EDR)- Not every organization has EDR technology in place. Tools like EDR can compensate for the lack of traditional security protection by finding and halting breaches. The tool can also help with analysis after an attack.
  • Backup- No matter how much we emphasize backing up data, it’s never going to be enough. Ensure your organization is backing up crucial data regularly. Ask your IT team to test the backup system and confirm that the backups are available and out of reach of cyber crooks. Cyberattacks succeed because the backup strategy of an organization is incomplete or allows hackers access to backed-up data.
  • Lockdown Critical Accounts- To successfully carry out a ransomware attack, cybercriminals escalate privileges until they gain access to domain-level admin accounts. Such accounts can be locked down during the holidays. Instead, create emergency-only accounts in your domain that can take over when your usual admin accounts are disabled during an attack.
  • Hire Managed Security Services Providers- This is for those organizations that lack the cybersecurity expertise to respond to during a holiday attack. Consider external help that can jump in immediately in an event of an attack.

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