The holiday spending season started at a low point of an ongoing economic downturn and threat analysts warn that cyber criminals are ramping up their attacks on your business and your customers.
Retailers and small to medium-size businesses are prime targets because of their deeper connection with customers and suppliers. Another reason is that SMBs do not invest enough resources to combat a cyber incident.
While no company can be completely hack-proof, SMBs and Retailers need a more robust cybersecurity plan to defend from the following types of cyber threats prevalent around the holidays and reduce the likelihood of falling victim to an attack.
Social engineering is a specific form of hacking where people are tricked into doing certain tasks, like gathering confidential information for fraudulent purposes. It includes the act of impersonating someone in order to access data, information or systems.
Social engineering attacks can go on for months at a time or can be accomplished with a single email or other forms of communication that invokes urgency, fear, or similar emotions. It works by luring the unsuspecting victim into exposing data, spreading malware infections, or giving access to restricted systems.
Phishing attacks are a constant threat to SMBs and retailers. As one of the most common and widespread forms of social engineering, phishing typically tricks recipients into giving away personal and company information such as names, addresses, email addresses, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, passwords and more.
Phishing campaigns have become so deceptive and are looking more like they are coming from authoritative and trustworthy sources. For example, copying the exact details of a confirmation order from a known seller, make the attack more difficult to spot. To help persuade recipients of their legitimacy, messages like these typically have branded letterheads and similar website and email domains.
Identity theft typically involves a cybercriminal acquiring a form of personal information such as a credit card information and misusing this to charge expenses and steal money. During the heavy holiday spending season, it’s not just the number of Account Takeovers (ATOs) that’s going to increase – it’s also the level of technical capability. Advances in deep-fake technology have led to more effective scams. Cybercriminals are also using A.I. and machine learning to engineer attacks. They are often malicious bots mimicking user login behavior and attempting thousands of user login attempts in seconds.
Spam And Malicious Software
Spam emails and its accompanying malicious software are an increasingly dangerous threat to SMBs and retailers, and unfortunately, all too common. Similar to a phishing email, messages with malicious software contain links with malware. Once the recipient clicks on an infected link or opens a corrupted file, the malware installs on the user’s system and infiltrates through the entire company network which could shutdown business and expose customer data.
Around the holidays, there is an uptick in the number of retailers listed on ransomware extortion sites where gangs post a list of victims they’ve targeted. Retailers are prime targets because they are desperate to prevent an operational outage at the peak of holiday spending, thus, are more likely to pay off the ransom.
Protect Your Business and Your Customers
The holiday season doesn’t have to be a disaster if you take the proper measures to protect your digital assets, ensure a safe online experience for customers and secure their trust. Businesses that follow a strategy to protect their data are less likely to suffer a cyber-attack than those not taking a proactive approach.
You can install firewalls and anti-phishing tools, update your anti-virus software and set your spam filters to high — but that will only get you so far. A seasoned social engineer can bypass all of that with a simple phone call.
When it comes to protecting your business from holiday hackers, security awareness training is your best line of defense. It helps your employees recognize potential threats and take action to prevent an attack.