Why is cybercrime more prevalent during the holidays?
The holidays create the perfect storm for cybercrime. For starters, the holiday season witnesses a surge in online shopping, fundraising, and communication. Such increased online activity provides cybercriminals with a larger pool of potential targets to exploit.
Moreover, with the increased focus on generosity and goodwill, people tend to let their guard down and become more trusting of unfamiliar individuals or organizations. This means people may be more likely to click on links or download attachments without thoroughly verifying the sources, making it easier for cybercriminals to launch successful attacks.
What types of holiday-themed attacks should nonprofits watch out for?
Some of the most common threats your nonprofit organization may encounter, include:
- Holiday phishing scams – Phishing scams often involve the use of fake emails to lure individuals into clicking on malicious links or providing sensitive information, such as login credentials or financial details. During the holidays, cybercriminals may masquerade as legitimate companies and send fake gift cards or holiday shopping deals. Some may even create a sense of urgency by claiming that the offer is valid for a limited time only or notifying the recipient of a holiday delivery.
- Charity fraud – Cybercriminals often create fake charity websites or pose as legitimate organizations to solicit donations during the holiday season. These fraudulent activities not only exploit the generosity of individuals but also damage the reputation and credibility of legitimate nonprofit organizations.
- Malicious ads – Since online shopping is at its peak during the holidays, cybercriminals may also use fake pop-up ads to distribute malware onto unsuspecting users’ devices.
- Fake holiday apps – With the growing popularity of mobile apps, cybercriminals have started creating fake holiday-themed apps that claim to offer discounts or special deals. But in reality, these apps contain malware that can steal victims’ personal information and even take control of their device.
How can nonprofits protect themselves during the holidays?
Educate staff and volunteers
Training your staff and volunteers on how to identify and handle potential cyberthreats is crucial. Regular training seminars, newsletters, or even mock phishing exercises can help raise awareness and keep everyone vigilant during the holidays. The general rule every staff member and volunteer should take away from your security training is to be cautious of every email, website, and app, as well as to never provide personal information to anyone online.
Fully secure your online accounts
Secure your online accounts with passwords that are at least 12 characters long to make it difficult for hackers to guess or crack them. You should also enable multifactor authentication wherever possible to increase the layers of protection. This ensures that even if someone manages to obtain your login credentials through phishing or other means, they won’t be able to access your accounts without the additional authentication factors.
Keep software and systems updated
Software vulnerabilities are a common way for cybercriminals to infiltrate systems. By regularly updating your organization’s software, including operating systems, firewalls, antivirus programs, and web browsers, you can prevent cyberattacks from occurring.
Always verify financial transactions
When it comes to making donations or payments online, always verify the authenticity of the website and check for secure payment options. Look for the “https” in the URL and a padlock icon that signify a secure connection. You should also avoid making payments or donations over public Wi-Fi networks, as cybercriminals connected to the same network could potentially intercept your information. If you are unsure about the legitimacy of a paid service, product, or fundraising campaign, do some research on the organization or contact them directly using information from their official website.
Proactive threat monitoring
Monitoring your organization’s systems and accounts for any suspicious activity can help you identify potential threats before they become a major issue. This entails watching for sudden changes in system configurations, unusual login attempts, or unfamiliar IP addresses. Managed services providers like Varsity Tech can help you implement proactive threat monitoring and respond to potential threats in a timely manner.
Dealing with holiday-themed cyberattacks can be stressful to your nonprofit organization, but Varsity Tech can protect you. Contact us today to secure your organization during the holidays and beyond.