While we’re huddled around a fire sipping eggnog, cybercriminals are taking advantage of our holiday cheer and seizing the opportunity to attack. Recently, The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the White House issued warnings to organizations to anticipate a rise in attacks this holiday season. If unprepared and unprotected, organizations could be facing worse than coal in their stockings.
Increased vigilance is encouraged during this festive time, but having the proper controls and awareness in place year-round can go a long way in preparation for the holidays. From patching vulnerable systems, mandating multi-factor authentication (MFA), increasing cyber awareness training, and backing up data, there are several steps organizations can take to keep their defenses up over the holidays. Leveraging Breach Detection and Response (BDR) takes cybersecurity one step further, providing a proactive defense against cyberattacks.
The “gift” that keeps on giving
It can be challenging for non-enterprise organizations to identify and respond to active threats during regular business hours, never mind the holiday season. Fewer employees are operational, as many take time off and travel to spend with family and friends. Cybercriminals take advantage of short staffing, resulting in longer than usual incident response times due to staff availability issues. Even upon their return, employees might find the entire environment has been impacted, or there is a backlog of issues to be addressed.
In fact, a recent report revealed a 30 percent increase in the average number of ransomware attacks over the holiday season, compared to the monthly average. There is also a 70 percent average increase in November and December, compared to January and February – this highlights how attackers take advantage of holiday work schedules and retreat upon everyone’s return to office in the new year.
Cyberattacks not only impact large enterprise organizations but companies of all sizes, many of which can’t afford to build and maintain a security operations center (SOC) to detect and contain cyberattacks around the clock. With limited staff and resources, protecting your organization may seem difficult, if not impossible. Still, robust cybersecurity is no longer limited to the organizations that can afford advanced tools and tickets to automate threat and vulnerability detection, build a comprehensive set of policies to foster secure behaviors, deploy a regular training program and use a SOC for hunting, detecting, and remediating incidents as they occur. Maintaining cybersecurity isn’t limited to building your full cybersecurity stack or SOC and hiring an internal team of experts to keep it running 24/7.
With staff taking time off and being more difficult to get ahold of in an emergency over the holidays, ransomware and other cyber-attacks can take time to spread through networks. Thin staffing means more alerts for each person to handle, meaning there is a higher chance someone might not notice an intrusion, and it might take longer to detect and respond to a threat. Even forensic and response teams brought in by cyber insurance providers and other third-party assistance will likely have thin skeleton crews, so it could be days or weeks before someone can come in and help. Smaller organizations might not even know an attack has occurred until they return to the office, enabling attackers to run rampant in the meantime.
Any time of year where organizations may be less prepared to fend off a cyberattack is an opportunity for successful compromise. With IT operations and security teams short-staffed (especially if they weren’t large teams, to begin with), the holidays create a perfect storm for increased risk with fewer resources to help mitigate or resolve incidents, let alone prevent them. As the number of cybercrimes increases, organizations need a sophisticated approach to ward off cyberattacks before they happen. With breach detection and response, organizations can collect and correlate data across multiple security layers to make it easier to detect threats quickly.
Staying one step ahead of Santa…and cyberattacks
Especially as high profile incidents have clarified the importance of cybersecurity, organizations may be hesitant to invest in a comprehensive cybersecurity program (both in-house and offered as a service), because the perceived investment in time and resources needed to build such a program can be daunting. Thankfully, with a bit of holiday magic, you don’t need a stack of complex technology or in-house cybersecurity experts to build a robust program that protects your organization.
Cybersecurity must go beyond IT staff and be embraced as a business function that spans people, process, and technology. Each organization has something to protect, whether financial and employee information, go-to-market strategies, customer data, intellectual property, or more. In a breach, organizations can face financial losses, operational downtime, and irreparable damage to their reputation and customer trust. In the middle of a crisis, you don’t want to realize that your organization is unprepared – you need to have an incident response plan in place before an attack happens.
The longer the attack continues, the higher risk of damage and therefore, the higher the potential financial loss. Preventing, detecting, and responding to a cyberattack on your own requires a large stack of tools and multiple budget requests - made all the more complicated when accounting for holiday schedules. Having an outsourced 24/7 SOC to monitor and respond while you’re away can help your organization’s IT and security teams rest easy and enjoy the holidays.
Defendify’s Breach Detection & Response is always-on, closely watching activity, analyzing data and trends, identifying anomalies, and counteracting developing attacks in real-time. Learn more about BDR in our latest webinar and reach out to see how we can help your organization discover and contain cyberattacks during the busiest time of year.
More Breach, Detection, and Response Resources:
Webinar: Ransomware Never Takes a Holiday