FBI Cybersecurity Holiday Warning

CISA and the FBI released a joint cybersecurity warning to kick off the holiday season. Over the next month it’s typical for less employees to be in the office, and many employees take off a full week to spend with their families. It’s also a time of year that many businesses slow down if part of their supply chain takes a break. Criminals know there will be fewer ‘eyes on screens’ during this time, which means suspicious activity will take longer to be noticed and reported. The FBI report does not cite any specific threats, but instead notes a pattern of increased ransomware attacks generally, as well as specific increases recorded over Independence Day and Mother’s Day weekends this year. Both of those weekends triggered increased attacks as criminals took advantage of long holiday weekends to infiltrate systems and move around networks undetected.

The report lists a number of suggestions for IT professionals as well as typical users. Three important suggestions to pass on to employees are:

  • Implement multi-factor authentication for remote access and administrative accounts.
  • Mandate strong passwords and ensure they are not reused across multiple accounts.
  • Remind employees not to click on suspicious links and conduct exercises to raise awareness.

These security practices are important for employees’ personal accounts and activity as well as business owned applications. With the increase of work from home environments, and many businesses choosing not to come back to the office full time, employees are working in less secure IT environments. Whether employees are using personal or business workstations, they are still connecting to the internet through consumer grade routers and firewalls. Additionally, employees are more likely to use their business workstation for personal applications, shopping, and browsing when they are working from home. These factors, combined with the increase in ransomware and phishing we have seen over the past year, set the stage for a tumultuous holiday season in the cybersecurity sector.

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Posted by Charles Wright