As we approach one of our favorite times of the year, ruthless gangs of hackers prepare to show off their skills, extract money from companies and generally cause chaos. Unfortunately, Christmas has become the peak time for hackers to launch cyber-attacks. While everyone is busy celebrating with family and friends, they’re working hard to exploit any vulnerabilities they can.
And, given that cyber-attacks are accelerating at an alarming rate this year with a ransomware attack predicted to take place every 11 seconds, according to Ransomware Statistics: Trends and Facts by Cloudwards, IT leaders need to be prepared to deal with rising cyber-threats this Christmas. Here are four reasons why and what you can do to protect yourself:
Hackers Know How to Work Undetected
While IT and security staff are distracted celebrating with family and friends, hackers can take full advantage by working undetected to prepare for an attack. To do this, they often infiltrate your network days or weeks before, carrying out reconnaissance to find access points and open ports before executing a distributed denial of service (DDoS) or ransomware attack. To prevent hackers from entering your network undetected, ensure you implement intrusion detection systems to monitor for any malicious activity.
Not Enough Companies Have a Contingency Plan
A recent report by Cybereason reveals that 1 in 4 IT leaders don’t have a contingency plan in place to deal with a ransomware attack during the holiday. Out of those companies that experienced an attack, 36% believe it was successful because they didn’t have a plan prepared or enough staff available to respond. But the challenge is, without a plan or the right support, it can take much longer to assess, respond and recover from an attack. So avoid getting caught off guard this Christmas by having a robust contingency plan with adequate resources in place before you head out.
Hackers Like Ruining Christmas
There are many reasons why hackers like to ruin Christmas; they can show off their skills, impact and anger a larger number of people and gain maximum media attention for their actions. The Lizard Squad Attack on Christmas Eve 2014 is a prime example. The hacker group launched DDoS attacks on online gaming servers owned by Sony and Microsoft. By flooding their networks with artificial traffic, hackers managed to cause them to crash, making gifted consoles useless. So don’t get caught out by hackers playing the Grinch this year. Instead, safeguard your network by implementing DDoS protection services to test for anomalies in traffic and automatically block any suspicious activity.
Companies Are More Willing to Pay Ransoms During Holidays
Hackers will often demand ransoms that increase by the day, so companies are more likely to pay up quickly during the Christmas holidays rather than wait it out and risk losing business or having to pay a larger amount. But if you find a ransomware attack hits your company, make sure you think twice about paying. 92% of companies who paid a ransom in the last 12 months didn’t get their data back, with the average company only getting back 65%, according to Sophos’ The State of Ransomware 2021 report. To get ahead of any ransomware attacks, ensure you regularly backup your data and deploy anti-malware with up-to-date signatures to protect your systems.
Protecting Yourself This Christmas
As we start winding down for Christmas, it’s clear IT leaders need to be extra vigilant this year to keep their companies safe. While hackers start planning their moves, it’s critical that you pre-empt any cyber-attacks, plan carefully and safeguard your systems with the right security solutions. If not, then it could be the difference between a relaxed and enjoyable Christmas or your entire company being stripped of its critical data and coming to a complete standstill.