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Why public holidays are like Christmas for cybercriminals

In the last 12 months alone, 39% of UK businesses have spotted an attempt to breach their systems but a large percentage of unauthorised access is still going unnoticed. A common tactic employed by cybercrooks is to slip under the radar and launch an attack at a time when victims are caught off guard such as late afternoon ahead of the weekend. This has had devastating consequences especially for the property industry, as this is when deals usual close.

However, public holidays provide a lucrative opportunity for criminals, why? Take the festive season for example, spirits are high but it’s also a stressful time for business owners and their teams. Welsh retailers’ tills are (hopefully) ringing loudly from the cyber events and late-night shopping, restaurants from Abergavenny to Anglesey are extremely busy with Christmas party bookings and suppliers will be stretched to get deliveries to their destinations on time.

Everyone is tired. Adrenaline is powering people through so they can leave on time and make the most of any additional days off but we’re all human and our defences are bound to slip from time to time. And this is why a cybercriminal’s campaign to attack your business could have already started.

Phishing emails work incredibly well as they can appear to be genuine. Hackers will impersonate someone known to the business whether that’s an employee, client, supplier or your bank. The message will likely ask you to confirm or share sensitive company details immediately or ask you to urgently click a link, which then activates the installation of malware onto your computer.

If you’re rushing to leave work, a lapse in judgement could see you following the bogus instructions while you’re heading out the door for a few days’ rest and relaxation. Online hackers know you won’t be back for a while which leaves them plenty of time to view and steal business-critical data, access your company bank account, find out personal details of the team, deny you access to your systems, takeover your social channels…the list goes on and you return to complete carnage.

Ransomware is the most aggressive and biggest threat to all businesses in Wales, the UK and beyond, regardless of size. This is where your systems are infiltrated, locking you out, with a ransom demand being made in order to have the data returned to you. While the Colonial Pipeline and Kaseya attacks earlier this year are examples on a global scale, they too happened on a Friday and a long weekend respectively. Online attackers do not discriminate with their methods.

Here‘s what you can do to block a cyber intruder’s efforts whether your business is open or closed:

  • How to spot phishing emails – look out for: an urgent call to action, spelling errors, the sender name not matching the email address, unusual file types, the email not being addressed to a specific person. Phishing scams can be forwarded to Action Fraud.

  • Have strong passwords – if you’re using the same one for multiple accounts, best practice is to change them using three random words and a password manager will help you remember them all

  • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on email, social media accounts and software apps (a code is sent via text to your phone or generated by an authenticator app to verify that you are the rightful user of the account).

  • Data backup - save any data that can’t be replaced if lost, damaged or stolen (financial records, emails, customer databases, documents, and supplier contracts) by saving them to an external hard drive or to a cloud-based system.

The WCRC helps Welsh SMEs with building their cyber defences, we keep it simple with free toolkits, resources and guidance. Alternatively, please drop us a line to see how we can assist you further.


The contents of this website are provided for general information only and are not intended to replace specific professional advice relevant to your situation. The intention of The Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales is to encourage cyber resilience by raising issues and disseminating information on the experiences and initiatives of others. Articles on the website cannot by their nature be comprehensive and may not reflect most recent legislation, practice, or application to your circumstances. The Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales provides affordable services and Trusted Partners if you need specific support. For specific questions please contact us.

The Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales does not accept any responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on information or materials published on this document. The Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales is not responsible for the content of external internet sites that link to this site or which are linked from it.

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