We’re right in the thick of the holiday season, which means two things: one, there’s a lot of data being exchanged between businesses and consumers, and (on a related note) two: there’s ample opportunities for cybercrime, targeting business and consumer both. Whichever side of the coin you are on at any moment, you need to be aware of the risks, and how to mitigate them.
As a Consumer
Let’s face it, the Internet is a fantastic resource for the savvy shopper to use as a means of identifying where the best deals are, be it online or in-store. However, when browsing openly in such a way, you need to ensure that you are doing so as securely as possible.
There are, of course, the more basic steps: making sure your anti-virus software is up-to-date and activated, practicing good password hygiene and strength. In addition to these precautions, there are other measures you can take to help keep the holidays merry and bright, free of a cyberattack.
While you’re browsing, you want to make sure that you are as defended as possible, and that you are browsing intelligently as well. The bar where the website’s URL appears should have a locked padlock somewhere in it, indicating that the website is secure and any data you input (like credit card information, for example) is protected behind encryption. Furthermore, as convenient as a free Wi-Fi connection may seem, it isn’t going to be worth your data being infected as a result.
As a Business’ Representative
Of course, the focus on consumerism that permeates this time of year doesn’t for a moment mean that businesses get a pass when it comes to potential cyberattacks. The holiday season means nothing to attackers, and will not prevent them from leveraging everything they’ve got against your business’ interests. This effectively makes it a requirement for any business to have policies to counteract some of a cybercriminal’s efforts.
These policies should address a couple things, the first of which ensuring that all of your business’ defenses are updated and activated.
Whether it’s your antivirus, your remote access solution, or anything in between, your entire network needs to be maintained and kept up-to-date. This means that any patches that have been released for your solutions should also be applied in addition to regular updates as they are made available.
Your users also need to play a role in your cybersecurity. With the holidays so close, there is likely to be an increase in holiday-themed scams and phishing attempts. A few simple lessons in best practices will help to keep your users aware of these efforts and how to prevent them. Anyone with network access should also be required to authenticate their identity a few times through various means.
Of course, it can also be challenging for a business to keep all this up while simultaneously attending to their regular operations. That’s why we do what we do at Machado Consulting. Give us a call at (508) 453-4700, and have a happy and healthy holiday this year.