You could argue that the most overlooked essential business expense is cybersecurity. With attacks occurring every 39 seconds in the US alone, it’s important that we enter the new year with greater protection.
No matter what our plans are for the holidays, you still need to ensure your data is protected. Let’s talk about data protection over Christmas break.
Why Are Attacks a Concern Right Now?
Cyberattacks are always a concern, but did you know the holidays are the most common time of the year for data breaches? Cyberattacks surge during the holiday season every year, and small and medium-sized businesses are the prime target. So, why is that?
Small and mid-sized businesses are the most common targets for one simple reason; they’re the perfect fit for attacks. Think about it.
If you were a cybercriminal, you wouldn’t want to waste your time attacking random strangers’ personal accounts and hoping for the best. They may not have anything worth stealing.
Conversely, attacking a large company like Apple or the US government would have the highest potential reward, but the most security. This puts small and medium-sized enterprises in the “sweet spot” for attacks.
So, the only question is why the holiday season is such a busy time for attackers. While there are many potential reasons, the holidays are usually a golden opportunity for attackers with an increase in remote employees, a decrease in IT monitoring, extended server vulnerabilities, and more frequent transactions.
On top of that, many people are also more desperate around the holidays, making them more willing to commit crimes to make ends meet. This could result from shorter work hours, large family gatherings, unpaid time off, and more.
All of this makes the holiday season a perfect time for cybercrime. This is especially true for businesses that see an increase in sales this season, as that leaves more transactions to exploit.
How to Make Sure Your Data Is Protected
Remember that 60% of businesses fail within six months after a cyber attack. You don’t want to risk having to tell your customers and staff about a data breach, as this could devastate your business. Here’s how to protect data over the holidays!
Use a VPN
If you have employees traveling or working remotely during the holiday season, consider using a virtual private network or VPN. This is especially important on company devices. One compromised smartphone can destroy a business.
Moreover, this will ensure that your employees aren’t using too many variables in network security, which can prevent hackers from breaching your systems.
Secure Your File Sharing
Your file-sharing is another critical aspect, especially if some employees are remote. Data is most vulnerable during transport, so use a cloud-based system with two-factor authentication for the best results. It’s the easiest and safest way for employees to access and share files from anywhere.
Meet With Staff
Sit down with your staff and talk about the rising cyber threats during the holidays. You can have all of the security knowledge in the world, but it won’t matter if your staff doesn’t know how to keep your data safe.
Talk to them about best practices, encourage them to change passwords, and most importantly, teach them about phishing scams. Phishing, and other social engineering attacks, are when attackers use psychological manipulation to achieve a specific end goal. No matter who you are, you can fall victim to one of these.
We all know not to send the “prince” who’s “stuck” our life savings, but with the rise of deep-fake technology and sophisticated scamming techniques, employees may truly believe that a coworker is asking for something reasonable. If they don’t have the training to recognize the right flags and to report suspicious behavior, then your data is vulnerable to scams.
These conversations should include where to report potential threats, how to respond, and general best practices for protecting data. If you plan to use any new software (anti-malware, file sharing, etc.), make sure staff become familiar with it before working remotely.
Test Your Network
If you’re concerned about the security standards of your system, you can always try penetration testing. This will determine how secure your network is from potential hackers and help you close potential doors for them to enter.
Scan For Viruses
Christmas is the perfect time for antimalware scans. You should do these at least once a week across all of your devices. You can pick up malware from any site online, any file in your inbox, or really anywhere.
The only way to find out is to scan and remove potential malware before it becomes too big of a problem to manage.
Get the Right Help
Again, one of the major concerns is a lack of IT staff and system monitoring. If that’s the case for your organization, you need to find protection as soon as possible.
With the right help, you can see how your systems hold up to penetration testing. From there, cybersecurity experts can prescribe the right monitoring and response plan for your needs, as well as a detailed security strategy. Check out our cyber services to learn more!
Now that you know how to ensure your data is protected this holiday season, put these tips to use right away. The longer you wait, the longer you remain at risk of disaster.
Stay up to date with our latest cybersecurity tips, and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or for help with your security needs!