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How Year-End Messages Create a Cybersecurity Risk

December 13, 2022 •
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The holiday season is a time for celebration and joy, but it’s also a time when cybercriminals ramp up their efforts to take advantage of unsuspecting businesses and steal valuable business data. As the year draws to a close and the holiday season approaches, many companies will be receiving a deluge of year-end holiday messages from friends, colleagues, and business associates. While these messages may seem innocent enough, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks that come with opening year-end holiday messages, particularly when it comes to phishing and other cyber security threats.

According to a study by the Ponemon Institute, 60% of small and medium-sized businesses reported being a victim of a cyberattack. This is a concerning statistic, and it’s likely to increase during the holiday season, when phishing attacks and other cybersecurity threats tend to increase.

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Sneaky phishing and other cybersecurity threats wrapped in holiday messages

Cybercriminals know people are more likely to open emails and click on links during this time of year and use this opportunity to launch their attacks. How? By using holiday greetings and themes to trick employees into giving away sensitive information and/or including attachments that may contain malware or other harmful software.

Be vigilant for phishing attacks, which is a type of cyberattack that involves sending fake emails or other electronic communications that appear to be from a legitimate source, such as a trusted business partner. Double check the sender’s email address and email domain name – do you recognize it? If not don’t click on it. Watch for fake shipping notices, dubious gift card offers, or “problems with your recent purchase” notifications.

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Year-end holiday messages can also be another attack vector for cybersecurity threats, such as ransomware and viruses. While phishing attacks are more targeted towards the individual ransomware and viruses can have greater impact by adversely the operations of the whole company such as shutting down access to information, degrading network operations and locking individuals out their computers. So be extra diligent before clicking on those holiday communications and attachments.

With the holiday season being such a busy time of year it’s easy for our attention to be easily distracted or our diligent wane. This increases the risk of human error, such as accidentally sending sensitive information to the wrong person or forwarding a suspicious email to another individual.

Head into the New Year with your business reputation intact

One of the biggest implications of opening year-end holiday messages for any business is the potential damage to your reputation. If a cybercriminal gains access to your company’s network and data through a phishing attack, they may be able to steal sensitive information or disrupt your operations. This can harm your bottom line and damage your reputation and trust with customers and business partners.

Protect your business from the cybersecurity risks of holiday email messages:

  • Remind your employees about the risks of phishing emails and how to identify them. Train them to recognize the signs of a phishing attack, such as suspicious email addresses or links, and teach them how to properly handle and report potential threats. Provide examples of common phishing scams and remind employees to be cautious when opening email attachments or clicking on links.
  • Ensure your secure email gateway is properly configured to scan incoming and outgoing email messages for malware and other threats. This can help protect your business from email-borne threats such as ransomware, viruses, and other harmful software.
  • Use a secure file sharing service like EB Control for securing, sending, and receiving sensitive information. This reduces the risk of your data being compromised in the event of a data breach.
  • Require the use of strong password and use two-factor authentication for all email accounts. This can help prevent unauthorized access to your business’s email accounts.
  • Regularly update your software, backup important data and store backups in a secure location. This later step ensures you can recover from a cyberattack or other data loss event.

Security for your business data just in time for the holidays

As a business leader, it’s important to keep your company’s sensitive information safe and secure. This is especially true during the holiday season, when many businesses are sending and receiving increased amounts of email. While year-end holiday messages can be a fun and festive way to celebrate the season, they can also put your company at risk.

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One of the best ways to offset this risk is with a data rights management solution, like EB Control. With EB Control data owners decide who can access emails and attachments, where, when, how and for how long. Encourage members of your ecosystem to use a data rights management solution so you can rest assured your incoming and outgoing holiday messages are safe.