In a year that’s felt like it might never end, Christmas is finally here.
Celebrations are just around the corner. But the cyber-scrooges out there know ‘the season’ is the perfect time to catch people off guard. Holiday trickery is commonplace in the virtual world.
And while we appreciate you likely want a break from controversy, all we ask is you beware of the few bad actors out there hoping to catch you out. Here are the three types of scams this cyber security company is keeping an eye on this Christmas — you’d do well to look out for them too.
Common Seasonal Scams
While cyber-threats evolve at an alarming pace, a select few have stood the test of time. But they tend to rear their wrinkled brow more often at Christmas.
Email and text phishing scams are as prevalent as ever, with employees in nearly every corner of the world saying they’ve experienced some form of this in the last year. According to one survey by McAfee, anywhere from one-third to one-half of respondents have experienced phishing.
But it seems text-based scams aren’t the only threat. Robocalls remain as popular as ever, with almost 50% of those surveyed in the United States receiving calls from an automated dialler as a Robo-voice does all in its power to spoil the Christmas cheer.
If you want to protect your employees from the pitfalls of old-school scams, ask your IT support to put the appropriate filters in place to stop the fraudsters in their tracks.
Christmas Trickery Scams
Christmas is the season for giving. Cyber-criminals recognize this fact more than anyone. And they’ll exploit your generosity without a second thought.
Fake charity scams emerge in force over the seasonal period. Scammers know you’re more likely to donate at this time of year. And they’ll waste no time pushing you to send money their way. Even if the scam doesn’t go so far as to ask for money, it might try to harvest financial or personal data. The safest thing to do is approach each-and-every ask with the utmost caution.
Always check the source of any request, which leads to our next point. Even if you don’t run into a charity scam, you might well see a notification scam. This year will see more holiday shopping than ever done online, which is great when it comes to making those last-minute purchases. But it’s also a hotbed for cyber-crime.
Criminals start sending fake shipping notifications, asking users to ‘click a link’ or ‘add personal details’ to confirm an order. In the flurry of Christmas shopping, we can all believe a message that looks like it’s from Amazon.
It might be too late by the time you spot the ruse.
2020’s Latest Threat
Whether it’s a ‘phishy’ email or a suspect donation request, you need to beware of cyber-threats this Christmas. There’s only so much IT support can do if you fall victim to a cyber-crime.
The best defense is to be cautious upfront. And this has never been more true than in 2020. High-profile companies, including Nintendo, Marriott, even app-du-jour Zoom, have seen data breaches this year, exposing over 5 million user credentials in the process. And cyber-criminals aren’t only selling this data on the Dark Web.
They’re leveraging the more sensitive details to formulate a strategy around which victims to target — as well as using AI to personalize phishing campaigns as they can see which hotels you stay in and the type of charity to which you typically donate. They’re even mimicking caller ID’s, getting people like you to pick up the phone to a number you think you can trust.
The personal approach can easily lure call recipients into doing something you’d usually spot as a scam.
Cyber-threats Aren’t Just For Christmas.
As Christmas passes and we head into the new year, cyber-attacks will grow not only in volume but in sophistication as well.
Whether it’s that smart speaker received as a gift from a relative or the next-generation thermostat you bought to treat yourself: each IoT device exposes your home — or business IT network — to potential intrusions. The threats only get worse as many of these devices lack the necessary security controls to repel modern-day risks.
But there are a few things you can do. First of all, you can employ a managed IT services provider to take care of your IT network, ensuring no weak spots. Secondly, you can educate your employees and your family about the risks. And finally, you can adapt your online behaviors to eliminate the threats.
4 Ways To Avoid Cyber-Threats
- Install a robocall blocker: Apps like Robokiller recognize phishy numbers and block unwanted calls before your phone even rings. Download the app to stay safe this Christmas, and if a number appears that you don’t know, leave it to voicemail.
- Don’t click links: If an email or text message from an unknown sender asks you to click a link, do not click. It’s safer to find the company’s website online and, if you’re still unsure about a request, contact customer service.
- Hover over links to check the source: Even emails from friends and relatives can contain suspect links. Before you click anything, log onto your laptop and hover over the link. A preview should show you the full URL. If it looks suspicious, don’t click it; just delete the email.
- Download antivirus software: There’s no better way to stay safe online than to use a comprehensive security solution. Here are the five antivirus packages Mid-coast Tech recommends to keep you safe well into 2021.
With the right antivirus package in place, all that’s left is to find a reliable, trusted managed IT services provider — give Mid-Coast Tech a call at 207-223-7594 to learn how we can get your business running like a well-oiled machine in 2021.