The Christmas carol is supposed to go something like this: “’Tis the season to be jolly” but it’s more like “’Tis the season to make money” when it comes to cyber-crime. Offices left empty or minimally staffed in between Christmas and New Year make hackers rub their hands with glee.
We have always warned our customers about the opportunity the holiday season presents to hackers who infiltrate phone systems to make lengthy calls to premium numbers where they profit from high call costs. Meanwhile, the business is left to pick up the bill and we have seen these bills run into tens of thousands. There are ways you can protect your business from this type of fraud. We also offer our customers financial protection with a maximum liability of £750, which is a lot better than paying a bill of £40,000!
The Christmas break brings a greater cyber-security risk for businesses as they are either closed or are operating with reduced staff leaving IT networks and systems unsupervised, which makes the festive season exactly the right time for cyber-criminals to attack. No-one wants to come back from the Christmas break to find their data and IT system are being held to ransom or customer details have been leaked on the dark web, leaving their reputation and finances in tatters.
Meanwhile, there is the spectre of Christmas shopping to contend with as staff hurriedly make online purchases and click on email links that phish for their details, including their business email addresses. New data from Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber-crime, revealed that 28,049 shoppers were conned out of their money when shopping online during the Christmas period last year representing an increase of 61% when compared to the previous year. Fake website, phishing emails and texts with amazing offers were the main culprits here. Some staff education on how to spot a phishing email and other scams would be helpful and this training is something we can help with.
Staff slip-ups aside, 39% of businesses and 26% of charities have reported a cyber-security breach in the last 12 months*. It is often smaller businesses that are less prepared, maybe thinking they will not be of interest to cyber-criminals, but that makes them more appealing as they do not have the IT or security hardware and software in place to prevent breaches before they happen.
It does not give us pleasure to be putting a downer on Christmas, but while there is money to be made, these highly organised criminals will not mind putting in the extra hours during the festive season when everyone else is taking time off.
If this blog is making you feel a little worried about your cyber-security, we can help. Cyber-security is a critical component of any business, but it’s not always easy to get your head around it. Our experts can consider what you already have in place and advise you on what you may be missing. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can help.