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Articles

The Grinch Of Holiday Shopping: A Surge In Phishing Attacks

November 29, 2021

For most people, the holiday season is about having a memorable time with their loved ones and spreading joy all around. But for cybercriminals, this is the season of peak productivity and endless opportunities, and like the Grinch, their goal is to steal your Christmas.

Different surveys and studies point to different numbers, but there’s an undeniable surge in phishing attacks during the holidays. In fact, 30% of all U.S. consumers received a phishing message around Black Friday last year. That’s roughly one out of every three Americans!

But why is it that phishing attacks spike around the holiday season? Is there anything you can do to keep your business safe?

Let’s find out.

Why Do Phishing Attacks Spike Around Holidays

The-Grinch-Of-Holiday-Shopping-A-Surge-In-Phishing-Attacks.pngThe simplest answer lies in human psychology, an aspect that cybercriminals are more than willing to exploit with some social engineering.

There’s an all-around surge in shopping around this time of the year. Brands capitalize on this trend by offering a multitude of discounts and sale offers. As a result, people expect to receive marketing messages from companies they trust.

Some common examples of marketing messages include shipping details, order confirmations, payment verifications, delivery notifications, and more.

Since people are often overwhelmed by the sudden flurry of special offers left and right, they stop paying attention to tiny discrepancies that would normally stand out as a red flag.

Cybercriminals take full advantage of this trend by crafting targeted messages to trick those overwhelmed people into exposing sensitive information and payment details.

Quick Tips to Keep Your Business Safe During this Holiday Season

While hiring a team of cybersecurity experts is the ideal solution, there are some tips you can implement organization-wide today to keep your business safe.

  • Confirm the Reply-To Address: It’s relatively easy to manipulate the sending address of an email. But as far as the reply address is concerned, which is the account where your response will be sent, an attacker cannot forge it. Nevertheless, they may try to fool users by setting up a similar account with a typo in it. Therefore, it’s important to confirm that the address matches 100% with what you were expecting.
  • Avoid Links: Just because a link says it will take you to Walmart.com doesn’t mean it will actually take you there. Spoofing links is incredibly easy. That’s why you should manually type the website directly in the address bar. This way you’ll know that it’s a legit website and not a fake copy set up by attackers.
  • Check for Encryption: Every modern browser shows a padlock for sites that are running on the HTTPS protocol. This means that every bit of data transfer is encrypted. So before entering any sensitive information, always make sure that the address bar is showing the padlock.
  • Watch for Peculiarities: Odd design and phrase choices are telltale signs of a phishing attack. Some common examples include typos, peculiar phrases, design misalignments, a mishmash of colors and fonts, and grammatical issues.

Of course, you’re not the only one in your organization. Hence, investing in a cybersecurity awareness training program for your team is not just important, it is necessary. Otherwise, it’ll only be a matter of time before someone slips up and exposes your business to cybercriminals.

Take Action Now To Bolster Your First Line Of Defense

The-Grinch-Of-Holiday-Shopping-A-Surge-In-Phishing-Attacks.pngInboxes are overflowing with promotional emails as we speak. Many are feeling overwhelmed and will fall victim to phishing attacks. Take the time now to help your employees avoid this pitfall by ensuring they are educated on how to spot phishing attacks, the dangers involved, and how to avoid them. At Optistar Technology Consultants, we will be happy to consult with you on our Security Awareness Training program that will bolster your first line of defense – your employees

If you would like more information on this program or our cybersecurity solutions, request a free phone consultation here! We would love the opportunity to speak with you. 

For more cyber security tips for your business, visit our blog section that is updated frequently!

 

 

 

 

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