Stay safe this 'Silly Season':
Safeguard Your Business from Festive Cyber Scams
As we approach the festive season, a time often marked by increased online activity, charitable giving and transactions, it’s crucial for business owners to be particularly vigilant against cyber scams. This period brings unique cyber security challenges. In this blog post, I’ll highlight the specific types of scams prevalent during this period, their execution tactics, and effective strategies business owners can implement to safeguard their operations.
Navigating the Festive Season’s Cyber Threats
As businesses gear up for the end-of-year rush, it’s essential to be aware of the increased risk of cyber scams. This part of the year, brimming with promotions and special offers, is a golden opportunity for cyber criminals to trick even the most cautious. Let’s delve into the types of scams that are particularly prevalent during this festive period.
1. Seasonal Phishing Scams
The holiday season’s allure is often used as bait in phishing scams. From fake holiday discounts to spoofed end-of-year rewards, these scams can be convincingly disguised, making them particularly dangerous. Scammers will also use a sense of urgency this time of year, so be wary of emails that ask you to act quickly/now.
How it happens: Scammers send emails or messages that appear to be from legitimate sources, offering irresistible deals or bonuses. It asks the employee to click a link or enter details which the hacker can then leverage to undertake a cyber attack.
Defence strategy: These days, phishing emails are often sophisticated and can bypass standard spam filters. Therefore, the best defence is to educate employees. Let them know that if things are too-good-to-be-true – they probably are. Further, employees should always verify the legitimacy of any festive season promotions or communications. They can do this by checking the domain name of the sender and checking spelling and grammar. If an employee is still unsure, they should be encouraged to call the sender to verify the offer over the phone.
2. Fake Invoice Scams
The spike in seasonal purchases and transactions can create a chaotic environment where fake invoices slip through the cracks. Hackers leverage the urgency around this period, knowing people are busy and wanting to ‘close everything out’ before the end of the year.
How it happens: Cyber criminals send fraudulent invoices for products or services that your business may be expecting due to the seasonal increase in activity.
Defence strategy: Implement a robust verification process for all invoices, especially for new vendors or unusual payment requests. This should be done at all times of the year – not just during the festive season.
3. Charity Fraud
Goodwill is high during the festive season, and unfortunately, scammers are known to exploit this generosity. It’s crucial employees know how to distinguish genuine charitable causes from deceitful schemes.
How it happens: Fraudulent emails or websites soliciting donations for charity, often using emotional appeals related to the festive season. Hackers may also attempt to use well known charity brands and create fake websites and causes.
Defence strategy: Verify the legitimacy of any charity before donating and encourage employees to do the same. If the brand looks familiar, make sure you google the charity to check if the promotion and URL are both correct.
4. E-commerce Scams
The surge in online shopping during the festive season opens the door for increased e-commerce fraud. Businesses need to be extra vigilant in monitoring transactions during this busy period.
How it happens: Scammers make purchases with stolen credit card details or manipulate online transactions. This may include stealing details from your clients, or using a stolen credit card to purchase your products.
Defence strategy: For any business selling products online, using a secure and reputable payment gateway should be the norm. However, businesses should also ensure they have a data handling policy to keep their client’s data safe and secure.
5. Social Engineering Scams
At this time of year, some companies start to relax, whilst others race to finish work! This change in atmosphere can often lead to lapses in usual security practices. It’s important to remain alert to the sophisticated tactics of social engineers.
How it happens: Scammers exploit the festive atmosphere, using manipulative tactics to gain access to sensitive information. This is usually via a phone call to attempt to gather information about the company and convince employees to part with their passwords and credentials.
Defence strategy: Remind employees to maintain professional vigilance and adhere to security protocols, even amidst the festive cheer.
Strengthening Your Festive Defences
Preparing your business against these seasonal threats involves a combination of enhanced training, updated policies, and robust technology. Here are a few things all business owners can do to improve their cyber security during this period:
- Enhanced Security Training: Conduct specialised training sessions focused on seasonal scams.
- Policy Reinforcement: Reiterate security policies to employees, emphasising the unique risks of the festive season.
- Investment in Security Solutions: Ensure your cyber security tools are up-to-date and capable of handling increased festive season traffic.
- Incident Response Preparedness: Update your incident response plan to include scenarios specific to the festive season.
- Promoting a Security-conscious Culture: Encourage a workplace environment where security is a shared responsibility, particularly during this high-risk period.
The festive season, while a time of joy and celebration, also brings with it heightened cyber security risks. Being aware of these risks and preparing accordingly is crucial for the safety and success of your business. Implementing these strategies will not only protect your business but also contribute to a safer online community during this festive period.
At Jam Cyber, we’re committed to helping you navigate the cyber challenges – at all times of the year, not just during the silly season! If you need more information, please contact our team below.