While many are preparing for long weekend celebrations, scammers are also preparing their own bag of tricks. Holiday periods often see a surge in online scams, making it crucial for organisations to fortify their security awareness. Relying solely on a standard checklist or technical safeguards might not be enough; a more diversified approach is essential to stay a step ahead of the cyber criminals.
Scams specific to Easter can be especially tempting for individuals, and although giving seasons mean more communication and more risk - vigilance should still be high, on a zero-trust basis.
Happy Holidays/Easter E-Cards
E-cards that promise a free gift, deep discounts on a product, a hello from an acquaintance that might be asking you to click on something to get your ‘special message’ could download malware or spyware to your machine.
Offers of a too good to be true discount on accommodation or meals at high end properties can leave you high and dry. The urgency around use in the holiday season and the ability to get a last-minute booking means you might overlook this, leaving you without a booking and having paid a scammer.
QR code scams – disguised as holiday competitions
Scammers can embed malicious links in QR codes, disguising them in Easter-themed advertisements or promotional offers. These QR codes may be distributed through emails, social media, or even printed flyers. When scanned, they can lead to phishing sites designed to steal personal information, or they might initiate unauthorised downloads of malware. It’s difficult to recognise a malicious link when it’s hidden by a QR code, so double check that the promotion is legitimate with the company advertised or use a QR code scanner that checks URLs before sending you to the site or downloading the materials.
Why checklists aren't enough
Checklists are a good starting point for cyber security but they're not enough. They often miss out on emerging threats and can overlook the human side of security - like training staff to spot scams. It's crucial to go beyond these basic lists to protect your organisation effectively. Checklists also often focus too hard on the technical aspects, overlooking the importance of security awareness training, which plays a significant role in preventing social engineering scams.
The need for a diversified cyber security plan
Rather than just relying on IT, a well-rounded cyber security strategy involves everyone in your organisation from the bottom up. This means combining technical solutions with ongoing staff training and regular checks to stay ahead of threats. Focusing on prevention, detection, and incident response, it involves a combination of technical measures, employee training, and ongoing assessment.
Employee education and awareness
One of the most effective ways to combat holiday scams is by empowering and educating employees. Regular security training on recognising phishing, using safe online practices, and strong password habits can make a big difference. Especially during busy times like holidays, when scams are more common, informed employees can be your strongest asset. For example, in retail, an overworked website can be vulnerable or fraudulent transactions can slip through when it’s busy.
Technical measures and monitoring
That’s not to say organisations should not implement advanced technical measures to fortify their cyber security. While education is vital, don't forget about technical security measures. Use firewalls, control access, install detection systems, and anti-malware. Keep your software up to date and watch your networks for any unusual activity. These steps are essential for a strong defence against cyber threats.
Incident response and recovery
No cyber defence plan is perfect, and that's why it's crucial to have a solid plan for dealing with cyber incidents. Your strategy should include a ready-to-act incident response team, clear communication methods, and a recovery plan. This plan should address how to manage data breaches, mitigate reputation impact, and handle any legal issues that might arise.
So, hop to it! Focusing on employee education, double checking technical measures, and effective incident response will ensure that organisations can enjoy the festivities without the worry of falling victim to cyber attacks. For a demo of our award-winning training platform and phishing simulations, get in contact today!