This time of year, many end-users are enjoying time out of the office and, if at their desks, have other things on their mind. It also means more organizations are vulnerable to attack.
A survey conducted by Dimensional Research on behalf of security firm nCircle indicates the majority of security folks — 61 percent – believe they are more vulnerable to attack during the holidays such as Christmas and New Year’s Day.
During the holidays, malware attacks do experience an upward spike as users spend more time online shopping — making them more vulnerable to scams, spam, adware and phishing attacks. Spam campaigns get a boost by leveraging holiday sales and events to scam users, and cybercriminals have historically leveraged infected holiday e-cards to entice users to download malware. These attacks have a greater success rate around the holidays because users are distracted and working with their guard down. Security savvy goes out the window.
With users out of the office and on vacation, organizations have a diminished ability to monitor and detect cyberattacks or put roadblocks in front of unauthorized access and insider threats.
There’s another side to this coin: With less users onducting business and transmitting valuable data, cybercriminals know they will likely have diminished returns on any malicious activity that they launch.
“In spite of the increase in malware and viruses around every major holiday, attacks can happen anytime,” said Andrew Storms, director of IT security operations for nCircle. “IT security professionals live in a constant state of vigilance: They know attackers are always looking for an advantage. You can’t build a good security program overnight, but if you already have one in place you’re probably just as safe on Christmas as you are any other day of the year.”
This was brought to light with a hackmageddon blog revealing cyberattacks during the first half of December decreased in comparison to other months, with the exception of two peaks during the 3rd and 12th. The largest number of cyberattacks — present in nearly a third of the cases — were sourced to SQL injection threats.
SQL injection attacks, occurring when cybercriminals inject data that compromises predefined SQL server commands, can be used to infect legitimate Web sites. SQL represents a handy exploit weapon used by duping users who otherwise believe they are safely surfing or shopping online.
The 61 percentof attacks were sourced to hacktivism, not cybercriminal activity intent on luring distracted holiday shoppers. Governmental targets led the charts, followed by financial, industrial and organizational targets.
These numbers represent the tip of the iceberg. For customers nervous about their threat posture during the holidays, the channel can be called in to fill some of the gaps. This can mean something as simple as nailing down security strategy when resources are spread thin or unavailable.
For partners, it can mean jumping on an opportunity to emphasize automated solutions such as threat monitoring, access control, Web filtering and other threat detection mechanisms conducted remotely. It also leaves more room to start conversations about remediation strategies in the event of an attack and to reaffirm security best practices.
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