Is your business vulnerable to holiday season cyberattacks?

holiday season cyber attacks
Image by Pang-rum | Bigstockphoto

The holiday season is fast approaching, but will your business be safe from cyberattacks when staff are away? This is the time we see locals and expats across the Asia-Pacific region setting up their Out of Office auto-replies and closing their laptops, as they ready themselves for some much-needed rest and relaxation. 

Depending on where you are in Asia, this happens from Diwali in October, through to Christmas and New Year in December, and then of course Chinese New Year in January. It’s a busy period for everyone, not just the retailers scrambling to cash in on one of the busiest shopping periods of the year. Unfortunately, this is also when we tend to see spikes in the severity of cyber attacks targeting businesses. 

No holiday from cyber attacks

Analysing the latest Threat Insight from Barracuda’s Advanced XDR Platform and 24/7 Security Operations Centre during 2022, we saw a rise in the severity of attacks during the times when employees tend to book their vacations, including a huge 1.4 million spike in attacks during January 2022, when employees are finishing their Christmas and New Year break or taking time off for Chinese New Year.

But why do cybercriminals choose these times to strike with their most vicious attacks; and are businesses more vulnerable during these times? Read on to find out what we know, and how you can stay safe this festive season.

1. While the cat’s away, the cybercriminals will play!

As employees mentally check out of all things work-related in the run-up to the festive break, cybercriminals are queuing up their attacks, ready to take advantage of under-resourced and distracted teams. During these times employees are more likely to fall for phishing scams by clicking on emails offering seasonal discounts or masquerading as e-Christmas cards. This can jeopardize your entire network, and with fewer IT professionals on hand to keep an eye on the network and respond to threats, you could very quickly find your business has become low-hanging fruit for cybercriminals looking to exploit any available vulnerability.

2. A festive feast of data to be had

The festivities represent some of the busiest times for shopping in Asia-Pacific, and thanks to the increased popularity of e-commerce in the region, from Shopee to Lazada, Amazon, and beyond, cybercriminals can enjoy a veritable festive feast when it comes to available data. Ultimately, a successful attack means higher potential rewards with a wealth of customer data floating about during these periods, so for cybercriminals, getting to work during the holidays is a no-brainer.

3. A network stretched too thin

It’s not only people who are busier at this time of year, quite often, but the network is also. Networks struggling with increased traffic during the festive season is an attractive option for cybercriminals to sneak through unnoticed and do their worst.

Don’t let cybercrime ruin your holidays

Cybersecurity starts with your first line of defence, which is your employees, so ensuring that your teams are trained in best practices when it comes to good cyber hygiene is a must. Beyond this, however, it is crucial to ensure you have a watertight cybersecurity posture in place to avoid cybercriminals ruining the festivities.

To do this, we recommend getting your security teams to reinforce essential security measures, providing much-needed protection for your email, applications, and network, whilst making sure your data and critical systems are backed up.

Enabling multifactor authentication (MFA) across all applications and systems should be top of your list this Christmas, allowing you to control access and permission to your network and data. Likewise, having a robust security solution that includes email protection and Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), with full visibility across your whole IT infrastructure, and a round-the-clock Security Operations Centre (SOC) to monitor, detect, and respond to cyber threats, could give you peace of mind to relax and enjoy the festivities safe in the knowledge that you are protected.

Remember, cybercriminals don’t take vacations, so making sure your business is protected, no matter what happens, could be the best gift you receive this Christmas.

By Philippe Cazaubon, Regional Director, Barracuda, Southeast Asia & Korea

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