The rush of the holiday season is in full swing...and so is the risk of cyber-attacks. During this time of year, online activity is on the rise. According to Deloitte, e-commerce holiday sales are projected to grow 11%-15%, compared to 2020. This rise in online activity is the perfect opportunity for scammers to take advantage of unsuspecting shoppers. Your entire cyber defense strategy can’t be completely overhauled before the end of the year, but these helpful tips could be implemented now and make a huge difference.
- Be cautious with your email. It’s best if your online shopping and personal email is done on your personal PC rather than your work PC. The risk of clicking a malicious link increases if you’re distracted. Phishing and ransomware attacks tend to be on the rise during the holidays. If you click on a bogus link on your work PC, you could quickly unleash a ransomware attack on your network. Be overly cautious when clicking on email attachments you are not expecting. All it takes is one click to cause widespread panic. Only shop on websites that have HTTPS: in their URL, this lets you know the site is secure.
- IT assistance. If you find yourself victim of a cyber-attack around the holidays, do you have a backup plan? Who gets called in the event of an emergency? Having the contact information of IT specialists handy might be beneficial if an incident occurs. Here at Kennedy Financial Services, we employ the help of Kennedy Computer Solutions for all our IT needs.
- Threat hunting. The FBI and CISA encourage businesses to be proactive and be on the lookout for signs of malicious movement to stop threats from occurring. Scammers could remain hidden in your network long before they are detected. Large amounts of data could be stolen and files could be encrypted and held for ransom. Watch out for unusual inbound and outbound network traffic as well as unusual login activity...this includes users logging in at unusual times and unusual locations.
- Setup cloud backups. In the event of a ransomware attack, you want to be able to have access to your data. It’s important to have a cloud backup of your important files. Resist the temptation to host your backup on your network. Scammers will oftentimes delete or encrypt any accessible backups. There are several great cloud backup companies out there such as IDrive, Backblaze, and Acronis True Image. Choose one that best suits your needs.
- When it comes to software, it’s important to install the latest security updates to make it harder for scammers to exploit. If you have outdated software, you leave yourself open to attacks. It’s best to have your PC download and install updates automatically. I know it can be a pain and inconvenience sometimes, but it could pay off in the end. It’s also important to make sure your antivirus software is up to date.
- Use secure passwords. A password should have a minimum of 10 characters using uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. It’s not recommended to use the same password across multiple accounts. To make it easy for you to remember but hard for an attacker to guess, consider creating an acronym. For example, pick a phrase that is meaningful to you, such as “My daughter’s birthday is December 12, 2004.” Using that phrase as your guide, you might use MdbiDec12,04 for your password.
- Enable multi-factor authorization.Multi-factor authentication is a security method which requires that the persons verify their identity in two or more ways. This technology adds an extra layer of security to your password login. This is becoming more common with websites that require login credentials. You can have a code sent to your cell phone or use your thumb print to allow you to gain access to online accounts.
Cyber-security is a year-round thing...not just around the holidays. A smart, proactive approach to security threats, could possibly save you in the end. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to help. Have a safe and blessed holiday season!