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The Top 10 Gifts You May Be Giving Cybercriminals This Holiday Season

By: Tim Foley

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The holiday season is upon us. However, as you steer through the hustle and bustle of picking out the perfect gifts for family and friends, are you or your business inadvertently giving gifts to cybercriminals as well? Check out our list below to find out how you can ensure you’re protected this season and give your business the best gift of all: peace of mind.

10. Bad Email Clicks

A single bad email click can open the door to your network, exposing it to dangerous phishing and spear-phishing schemes. With all the discounts and deals directed at shoppers, it can be easy to miss a malicious link. When you receive a questionable email, ensure it’s from a trusted source and verify the URL by hovering over the hyperlink before you actually click.

9. Non-Secure (SSL) Website Visits

Nothing says “Happy Holidays” to a cybercriminal like your full name, business address, and credit card number. Whether you are holiday shopping or just browsing the internet, always ensure the sites you are visiting are trusted and have secure socket layer (SSL) protection. You can tell if a site is SSL secured if there is “https” and a lock symbol in the address bar.

8. Weak Passwords

Password resets can be a pain, but that minimal upfront work can protect your company in the long haul. The easiest ways to prevent unauthorized access is by updating your password and setting a complexity requirement, such as multi-factor authentication, that will add another layer of protection.

7. Outdated Operating Systems

While most people don’t like getting a gift of old, outdated technology, cybercriminals love it because if you or your employees are running outdated operating systems, you may not be getting critical updates that patch potential security vulnerabilities. Using tools and services such as automated systems management can help ensure the devices on your network are always up-to-date and secure.

6. Out-of-Warranty Firewalls

Out-of-warranty firewalls mean your frontline defense may be weakened and susceptible to intrusion because your systems are not receiving access to the latest firmware and security updates to help keep your environment safe and sound. Follow industry best security practices and ensure your firewalls are up-to-date.

5. Unsecured Devices

Shiny new laptops, tablets, and phones are now a staple of the holidays, but using these new gadgets through bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies opens up the doors for cybercriminals to get in to your company’s network and data. Ensure that employees have security measures on their devices that prevent outsiders from gaining access, such as antivirus software, encryption, and password protection. 

4. Unsupported Firmware and Software

New viruses and threats pop-up every day that target firmware and software vulnerabilities. Be sure to keep your firmware and software licenses updated and warranties supported.

3. Unmonitored Networks

A network that isn’t constantly monitored and sending out alerts for abnormalities is open so cybercriminals can slip in undetected, and you may not even know until it’s too late. Just like you protect your house with a home alarm system, your business should utilize a service, such as a Security Operations Center (SOC), to minimize your risk with proactive monitoring. 

2. Stagnant Security Program

Having a security program is critical; however, continuously reviewing and updating it to account for the latest threat landscape is just as important. As you optimize your skills, so do cybercriminals, and it’s essential that you check your list twice, remain aware of the latest threats, and apply proactive measures to your program.

And the number 1 gift you may be giving cybercriminals this holiday season? Vulnerable Employees

Human error has consistently been the main cause of security incidents, and many cybercriminals are well-versed in attacking employees to get to a company’s network and data. Continual employee education and training is necessary to ensure your human firewall is as secure as possible.

Want to ensure you’re not giving any gifts to cybercriminals this season? Utilize a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) like Dataprise to help ensure your network and data are secure this holiday season.

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