The holiday season is a major responsibility for organizations, especially security teams. As most workers retire from work with minimal crews operating systems, all while the consumer market peaks owing to a shopping spree, the holidays become a gold mine for cyber threat actors. Since, the holidays overburden enterprises, cyber attackers deem this as the perfect opportunity to strike at systems.
As enterprises generate more business during the holidays, it creates excessive stress on existing systems. Moreover, as holidays arrive, they divert everyone’s attention to joyous celebrations and merriment. This allows threat actors to bypass security and infiltrate systems, while no one is looking their way.
However, CISOs are increasingly paying more attention to such vulnerabilities during holiday season and working to create robust infrastructure that facilitates the smooth flow of business. In this guide, we help businesses understand how to prepare for potential cyberattacks during the holiday season.
Preparing for the holiday season
Although businesses must be prepared to face any threat throughout the year, it is really the holiday season that highlights vulnerabilities. Therefore, come the holidays, businesses are required to give more importance to cyber attack prevention and data protection. We've tried to simplify the process into three actionable steps that must be a part of every holiday
When the holidays arrive, it is important to educate and reeducate security teams. Employees of an enterprise need to be trained to tackle possible attacks. This can be achieved by thorough workshops on how to spot red flags and avoid them. It is also important to educate security teams of atypical threat scenarios and manners to mitigate such conditions.
During the holiday, enterprise infrastructure can be overwhelmed by the volume of data and lack of personnel to operate. Therefore, it is necessary that security teams plan their way towards holidays, accounting for the increased stress. The plan must include a roadmap of managing overburdened systems and creating contingencies for possible attacks.
Planning for the holidays also includes updating existing protocols, reaffirming security measures and assessing the grasp of knowledge of security teams.
Since holidays bring additional responsibilities for security teams, it is advisable to make investments before the holidays arrive. Such investments can be used to upgrade systems, hiring temporary talent to compensate for the added burden, and installing provisional and dedicated measures for protecting a system during holidays.
The ideal checklist for security officers
When preparing for the season’s greetings, security officers often create a roadmap; an outline that helps them ensure that all loopholes are covered. Such a roadmap, prepared in the form of a checklist is an essential tool to safeguarding systems during holidays.
Here is an ideal checklist for businesses to help them navigate the threats that come with the holidays.
Understanding the threat landscape
Before diving into the season, businesses must understand the dynamics of potential cyber attacks that surround them. To better protect the enterprise, businesses must have a clear understanding of their industry and issues faced by other players. This can be done through a detailed analysis of previous incidents at other enterprises.
Once industry-specific threats are identified, businesses can take lessons from victims. This helps create better strategies and protocols to protect a system. Understanding threat landscapes also allow businesses to identify potential threats and be prepared for the worst case scenarios.
Developing security protocols alone are insufficient to protect businesses from threats. Since, threats are adaptive and evolving as new technologies are introduced to the digital world, it becomes vitally important for businesses to actively look for potential breaches and prevent them from materialising.
Such ever-advancing protection is achieved through threat hunting. It is the process of proactively looking for threats with the help of a variety of indicators. Through this activity, a potential breach is neutralised before the threat is able to gain access to sensitive data.
Classification of risk is important to mitigate them and protect the system from its perils. Risks can be classified based on the measure of damage that are able to cause to a given system.
Once classified, the probability of such risks becoming tangible can be assessed. This allows an enterprise to prepare for possible events in accordance with the level of risk associated with it.
Once high-risk components are identified in a system, they need to be addressed with utmost urgency. This can be achieved through updates and upgrades to existing systems. Patching ensures that the systems are up to date with the latest standards of the business environment, while simultaneously managing compliance.
Exposure and appetite
Security officers need to assess the level of risk that an enterprise is exposed to. It is important to assess exposure levels to install the necessary measures to cover for possible incidents. When exposure is quantified, businesses are able to develop protocols based on data, improving the odds of preventing an attack.
Another factor to consider while assessing exposure, is the appetite of an enterprise. When developing a data security strategy for the holiday season, it is important that the business is aware of the quantum of damage that may be caused due a particular risk. More importantly, it is critical that the enterprise is conscious of the damage that it can sustain when such as even takes place.
When the risk appetite of an enterprise is defined, necessary protocols can be developed that ensure business viability after an attack.
Checking and re-checking
When the holidays are around the corner, no amount of paranoia associated with data security is sufficient. The protocols, practices and procedures need to be checked repeatedly to ensure that they are in tandem with the policies of the security team. Once checked, they need to be rechecked and constantly monitored to identify the smallest of flaws in the system.
The holidays are a prosperous period for individuals as well as businesses throughout the world. They are significant moments for people from different sections of the society. Therefore, it becomes all the more important to businesses that they ensure data security in the interest of their customers and the economy. Threat actors seek opportunities such as these, to prey on vulnerabilities in systems and wreak havoc for unfair gain.
As the holiday season approaches, cyber attackers begin preparations, and to counter them, so do cyber security teams. The above guide is a brief outline to protecting a system and placing well-rounded systems in place to ensure that regardless of the time of the year, enterprises and their data remain protected from the dangers of the digital world.