The best gift is data security this holiday season

Johannesburg, 10 Dec 2018
Read time 3min 10sec

Data security shouldn't take a break as we approach the holiday season. As both in-store and online shopping increases, year-end festivities can create many opportunities for cyber criminals to exploit this holiday season.

  1. Protect your employees and business this silly season

Just because it is Christmas, it doesn't mean we should neglect processes when dealing with sensitive information. The festive break means businesses potentially have fewer security teams available and are generally understaffed over the December period, potentially giving cyber criminals more breaching opportunities, and in turn, less reaction time for identifying the attack and being spotted. It is also more likely that employees work remotely during this period too, which also means they are more easily targeted with phishing scams.

Some simple tips would be keeping in mind unorthodox URLs and be aware when opening attachments. All you need this Christmas is encryption! Encrypt your files to ensure sensitive information is protected and only available to authorised users.

2. It's the season to avoid free WiFi

With free WiFi being more accessible and giving us the ability to work remotely or simply browse the Internet, this convenience comes with many risks, as we are able to connect to hotspots. Connecting to a public WiFi requires little authentication, as anyone can connect, including cyber criminals. Cyber enemies can also create their own "free" WiFi network to try and lure users to connect. While many sites are switching to Secure Socket Layer (SSL), which provides end-to-end encryption between your devices and the server, there are various ways around this for a determined attacker. Alarmingly, a lot of organisations are still not including a data encryption strategy into their overall cyber security roadmap. A few of the reasons could be perceived complexity, perceived high cost and perceived performance impact.

3. Malicious season's greetings

December tends to create an influx of e-mails from friends, colleagues and family members alike, with holiday greeting messages, e-cards, videos and more. However, not all greetings could be sincere, with cyber criminals taking advantage by implanting viruses and spyware into the links. It is key to educate employees about such malicious e-mails to avoid company data from being leaked.

4. Hazardous public PCs

Travellers are more likely to leave their laptops at home as they travel out of town or abroad, often using a different computer to connect to check e-mails. Regardless of whether you are connecting at a hotel or an eating spot, it is key to avoid typing passwords that are easily captured and stored. If you are working from home, encrypt your mobile device to ensure all e-mail and data is protected, avoiding anything from being compromised.

Some more tips:

  • Make sure the Web site you visit is secure;
  • Keep your anti-virus on your laptop updated;
  • Educate family and friends to avoid falling victim to fraud and cyber crime;
  • Think before you download applications; and
  • Always have a PIN on your device and never share personal data, ie, passwords and usernames.

As we wrap up the year, it is important to continually monitor data throughout and stay on high alert; more importantly, prepare for the worst. Cyber criminals know you are either sending or receive gifts, ultimately, as you shop in-store or online, and are after your credit card details or personal information, ie, passwords. Avoid the cyber-Grinch by making sure attackers aren't filling their Christmas stocking at your expense!

Editorial contacts
ACS Lashley Steeneveldt +27 11 879 5700
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