While taking time off seems like an excellent way to relax, cyber attackers unfortunately never take time off. Whether you’re traveling somewhere tropical or just relaxing at home, cyber attackers will be looking to take advantage of your absence. Organizations need a plan for data breach prevention. There is an increased risk of cyberattacks during the travel seasons because bad actors know almost everyone is taking time off.
We’ve seen in the last year just how prone holidays and long weekends are too inviting cyber attackers with the lure of more time and opportunity. The SolarWinds attack dominated last Christmas, the Colonial Pipeline incident took over Mother’s Day, the Kaseya attack tainted the 4th of July, and now we have the Log4j flaw highlighting best practices to prevent data breaches at the beginning of 2022.
Common vacation seasons can be challenging for non-enterprise organizations to prevent, identify, and respond to active threats during regular hours – never mind when employees are out of the office. Organizations should follow many tips and best practices throughout the year to prevent data breaches. Having the proper controls and awareness in place beforehand can go a long way during increased absences.
From January to July alone, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received over 2,000 ransomware complaints with more than $16.8M in losses, a 20% increase in losses compared to the same time frame last year. After a year of high-profile ransomware attacks, 89% of cybersecurity professionals indicated they were concerned about repeat cyber intrusions ahead of the holiday season. Despite these concerns, 36% said they had no contingency plan to mount a response. And these attacks bring another cost: human interaction. Eighty-six percent of cybersecurity professionals reported missing holidays or weekend activities with family and friends to return to work in the wake of a cyber incident.
Put simply, months such as December, specifically around the holiday season, promise easier and more likely payouts because bad actors have the time and opportunity to enact their plans while their prime targets are OOO. Besides this, these attacks could lead to a more difficult recovery as it can take cyber teams longer to assess the scope of an attack, mount an effective response, and fully recover.
Unfamiliar Working Environments
Wherever employees are traveling or just working from home, there are several elements to be considered that might open organizations up to increased cyber risk. Distractions can lead to simple mistakes, particularly if kids aren’t in school and employees are in an unfamiliar environment. Employees might even connect to public Wi-Fi in coffee shops or airports to work on the road. These changes in behavior contribute to a lack of visibility that complicates an organization’s ability to assess potential threat vectors or string together tactics.
Social media and email pose a threat as well, rife with the opportunity for bad actors to socially engineer cyberattacks that take advantage of auto-response email messages, credential captures, and email account takeovers. Bad actors can gather information from online resources – did you mention on Facebook that you’re traveling to visit grandma in South Carolina this year? – fake travel confirmations, accommodation scams, phishing attacks, and more.
Reduced Staffing Numbers
If you can’t see or stop a threat, your internal and external business operations could come to a screeching halt. When it comes to data protection, organizations risk reputational damage, potential revenue, and loss of existing business if left unsecured.
Everyone deserves time off, but organizations are often left with thin IT staff as employees take time off and may be slower to respond in an emergency. Cyberattacks can take time to spread through the network, so the longer it takes to detect and respond, the more damage can be done. Forensic and response teams provided by cyber insurance providers and others also have thin skeleton crews; therefore, it may be days or weeks before someone can come in and help. Smaller organizations may not know the attack has happened until they come back into the office, and ransom demands may have increased as time elapses.
Thin staffing means more alerts for each person to handle, which results in a higher chance someone might not notice, and the attack may not be thwarted. When a high volume of alerts comes in, IT personnel may not know what to respond to and how to prioritize, making it even more difficult to detect actual threats. Without an incident response plan, organizations can incur extensive costs to react in the middle of an attack, taking longer to respond and enabling more damage to occur in the meantime.
It Starts with Comprehensive Cybersecurity
In the middle of a crisis, you don’t want to realize that you haven’t done a “fire drill” for a cyberattack. You need to know your incident response plan before an attack happens. In many cases, you would need a large stack of tools to tackle prevention, detection, and response to a cyberattack, which could require multiple budget requests and extend the potential response time. A balanced and comprehensive cybersecurity program combined with an outsourced 24/7 security team lets your employees take time off comfortably, knowing that professionals monitor and respond while you’re away.
Defendify’s Managed Detection & Response (MDR) couples artificial intelligence that consistently monitors device endpoints, systems, cloud applications, and networks for malicious activity with a dedicated security team that actively seeks out and contains threats around the clock. With User and Entity Behavioral Analytics (UEBA), organizations can establish a baseline of regular patterns that helps identify any unusual activity outside the norm that needs to be investigated, monitored, and responded to. Defendify’s solution enables organizations to go all-in from the start, leveraging a team of security experts to support their employees and implement a plan before an incident occurs. We’ll even give you customized security recommendations and quantifiable results to get the C-Suite on board.
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