Holiday Cybersecurity Threats 2019: ‘Tis the Season for Cyberattacks, You Need to Be Aware


With the holiday season upon us, the number of online shoppers increases immensely, with cybercriminals following suit to exploit their next victims. Unfortunately for holiday shoppers, attackers take advantage of the elevated amount of email and financial activity to target future victims. The more buyers use their credit cards and various payment methods, the more chances arise for consumer data theft.

No matter what cybersecurity strategies you set, it’s very likely that cybercriminals are finding ways to abuse your liabilities. However, these scams aren’t unique to the holiday season. The higher rate of online activity raises the likelihood that a person will fall victim to a scam or fraudulent endeavor. Avoiding email spam and other phishing attacks applies all year long but special attention should be paid during holiday season.

Past Christmas Phishing Scams

Holiday season makes businesses very vulnerable. Scams using phishing emails come cloaked as those from retail companies, mailing services, banks, etc. These emails include links to sham websites that ask for personal information, or which have malicious download links. Cybercriminals have boosted the price over the years, using more refined methods to adjust to shoppers’ growing digital lifestyles. Past Christmas phishing scams are still haunting users today, as research indicates that email and text phishing are still very common practices.

But the question remains: How are Christmas phishing scams still a thing? Unfortunately, the more innovative the scam, the more likely it is that it will not become evident until months later. You might not even realize you have downloaded a malicious file until it has already damaged your system or corrupted your data.

Last year informed 7,500 reports of these Christmas phishing scams and $400,000 was reported lost. Some of the most common holiday season scams were online phishing scams, shopping scams and fake parcel delivery.

With the holidays behind us, it is important to remain vigilant and watch out for other types of holiday cybersecurity threats. This article will expand on the most common holiday cyber scams and some helpful tips to avoid them.

Here Are the Top 4 Cybersecurity Threats You Should Be Aware of This Holiday Season

1) Phishing email scams

Phishing, a form of social engineering, is the act of sending an email under a fake name in order to convince the recipient to take a certain action such as opening a fake website or click on a download link. This security threat takes place all year long, but it’s certainly used more during holiday season. Security experts should keep this threat on top of their minds. It’s one of the main ways cyber-attackers get along with their scams.

Symantec’s 2019 Security Threat Report stated that almost one in every 400 emails is malicious. A typical office employee receives around a hundred emails per day, meaning chances of getting at least one malicious email on a weekly basis are high. Holiday season usually makes office employees visit shopping sites more than usual, while being connected to the company’s network and feasibly providing their company’s email address.

2) Fake Email Accounts Including Ransomware

The difference between phishing emails and those fake emails containing ransomware is that, in a ransomware attack, once the recipient opens a corrupted file or clicks on an infected website, the malware installs on their system and proliferates throughout the network. Once in the network, it encodes the company’s information and data. Although this doesn’t always happen right away, ransomware code can stay hidden until triggered by a particular situation.

According to Cybercrime Magazine, the average ransom was just over $13K last year, making it easy to understand why so many companies pay for it. This is a reasonable investment compared to the price of losing data through a cyberattack. The accessibility of ransomware for hire is one of the upcoming trends that has security experts most alarmed.

3) Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack weakens companies with the aim of extorting money. Cyberattackers are now searching the two into a type of attack called a Ransom Distributed Denial of Service attack (RDDoS). In an RDDoS, attackers use bots to distribute a company’s website with more traffic than they are intended to handle, draining the organization’s CPU. After this, they request a ransom to break off the attack.

4) Site Interruption

Cyberattackers are now using bots to damage retail sites. These bots usually fill the shopping cart and send down inventory, with the intent to sabotage their competition and suppress their ecommerce sales during the attack. This holiday cyber threat is particularly popular during black Friday, cyber Monday and Christmas time. When cybercriminals interrupt websites, the ecommerce website shows like there is no inventory remaining, letting the competition to increase their prices and seem more attractive to search engines and shoppers.

Recovering from a cyberattack is never easy, but preventing holiday cyber scams is a more viable approach. To avoid ransomware or other holiday cybersecurity threats from spoiling your holiday season, here are some actions you should take right away:

  1. Make Sure Your Employees Are Aware

As many articles will tell you, more than half of all cyber security attacks are the result of human error. Every organization should educate their employees, so they understand the risks and how to recognize a suspicious security threat.

  1. Add Extra Security to Your Email Accounts

Email attachments are still a popular attack path. Protecting email accounts can prevent malicious emails from getting through to your employees.

  1. Make Sure You Protect Your Data With the Right Cybersecurity Strategy

Your holiday season doesn’t have to be a disaster if you are taking the proper measures. Organizations following a strategy to protect their data are less likely to suffer a cyber-attack than those not taking a proactive approach.

Cybersecurity Solutions to Help Protect Your Business During the Holidays

With personal information left exposed during the holiday season, organizations must be aware of cyber threats to protect IT infrastructure. In order to efficiently manage risk, companies must reduce their attack surface. Threat modeling is the most effective way to visualize an IT ecosystem, inside and outside of the application.

ThreatModeler is an industry-leading platform that enables organizations to identify, prioritize and proactively mitigate threats. ThreatModeler automatically threat models and organization’s attack surface, with threat content pulled from respected threat frameworks including OWASP, CAPEC and the NVD (vulnerabilities). To learn more about the advantages ThreatModeler has to offer, we recommend scheduling a live demo. You can also contact us to speak with a threat modeling expert.


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