A hallmark of the holiday season is more and more consumers swarm e-commerce sites, follow through on travel plans to see friends and family, and other put a greater focus on completing their to-do lists so they can relax.
Unfortunately, this also means cyber criminals spot more opportunities to take advantage of the increased internet use.
E-commerce growth alone is expected to hit $3.3 trillion in 2022. That jaw-dropping total will only continue to grow, with total sales forecasted at $5.4 trillion by 2026.
More people shopping online means more opportunities for cyber criminals to strike. As we all get busy with our holiday shopping and preparations, keeping security in mind is essential.
Ensure that your personal and professional information are safe to guarantee a stress-free holiday season.
Here is an overview of cyber attacks during the holidays and a few tips to help you stay safe online:
Why Cyber Attacks Increase During the Holidays
While cyber attacks can happen any time of year, they tend to increase during the holidays. We’ve seen a 200% spike in cyber attacks on e-commerce sites approaching the 2021 holiday season, with Amazon as the top target.
There are a few reasons for this.
First, people are generally more relaxed and less vigilant during the holidays. They’re also more likely to use their personal devices for work tasks, potentially leaving even more sensitive information vulnerable to cyber criminals and their scams.
During the 2021 holiday season, Facebook and Microsoft Office 365/Outlook each received 10% of cyber attacks in November of 2021.
Another reason why cyber attacks increase during the holidays is that there are simply more people online. More people mean more potential targets—and more opportunities for cyber criminals to find a way in.
7 Tips to Protect Yourself This Holiday Season
Ever heard of that saying by Benjamin Franklin? “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Well, a big part of cyber security is being prepared for any attack. Here are seven tips that can mean the difference between your information staying safe and your data getting compromised:
1. Avoid public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi is one of the most common ways cyber criminals can access your personal information. When using public Wi-Fi, avoid those without password protection, as they’re the least secure. Even if a public network in a hotel or café is protected with a password, activating a Virtual Private Network (VPN) while connecting to it is highly recommended.
2. Be aware of phishing scams
Phishing scams are becoming increasingly common, and they are often used to target holiday shoppers. Be aware of the signs of a phishing scam, such as unexpected emails or text messages from unknown senders.
The 2021 Application Protection Report by F5 Labs revealed that phishing was the second most common type of cyber attack that led to data breaches.
3. Don’t click on links in emails
Over 15 billion spam emails are sent daily, making it easy to fall victim to phishing attacks. In 2021, more than 200,000 phishing attacks were identified, and this year, it’s expected to increase by six billion more.
Cyber criminals often send out fake emails or text messages with links that lead to malicious websites. Do not click on any links if you receive an email or text message from an unknown sender.
4. Use a credit card
When making purchases online, it’s better to use a credit card rather than a debit card. When you use a credit card to make a purchase, you’ll typically have some form of protection against data breaches supplied by the merchant.
If your credit card number is stolen as part of a data breach, you can simply cancel the card and get a new one. You will not be liable for any fraudulent charges.
Debit cards do not offer this same level of protection. If your debit card information is stolen, hackers could quickly empty your bank account. If they accomplish this, getting the money back into your account can be challenging.
5. Keep your software up to date
One of the best ways to protect yourself from cyber attacks is to keep your software up to date. This includes your operating system, web browser, and other software you use regularly.
Updating your software can seem like a chore, but it is vital to patch any security vulnerabilities that cyber criminals may have discovered. Attackers are constantly looking for new ways to exploit systems, and software updates will help to keep them at bay.
In addition to protecting your devices from attack, keeping your software updated can improve performance and add new features. So, it’s a win-win all around!
6. Use strong passwords
In its 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report, Verizon revealed that 81% of breaches used stolen or weak passwords.
Using strong passwords is one of the most important things you can do to protect your online accounts. Be sure to use a different password for each of your online accounts so that a hack in one doesn’t affect the others.
Also, avoid using easily guessed words or phrases like “12345” or “abcdef.” Most accounts now recommend a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols to make a stronger password, so be sure to take advantage of those.
7. Be careful what you share online
Cyber criminals can often gain access to your personal information by simply looking at what you have shared online. Be sure to limit the personal information you share on social media and other websites.
Don’t Let Cyber Criminals Ruin Your Holidays
During the holiday season, consumers should be extra vigilant when shopping, sharing information, or interacting with friends and family online. Armed with these tips, you can better protect yourself and observe cyber security holidays without the risk.
Your people are a significant part of your cyber security. They must be knowledgeable of the possible threats, and that’s why it’s vital for security awareness training to be personalized, engaging, and relevant.
Easily Identify and Reduce Risk with Security Culture Index
Book a walkthrough and learn how Terranova Security can help you build a stronger, more cyber security-aware culture.