With the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping season, it is an important time for businesses to not only consider their seasonal sales, but if their cybersecurity standards are up to snuff. While this may not seemingly be a top priority at this stage in the year, cybercriminals are quick to leverage popular brands to use their notoriety to conduct criminal activity and make a hefty profit. 

From online transactions to point of sales systems, delivery services, bank transfers and more, there are endless opportunities for cybercriminals to gain access and breach an organization just in time to devastate the busiest time of year. In fact, reports have found that pages impersonating delivery services had the highest percentage of clicks on phishing links (27%) in 2022 with online stores (16%), payment systems (10%) and banks (10%) also affected. 

How do they do it? Cybercriminals will create nearly identical copies of a brand or online service’s website via detailed content to ‘phish’ personal information including login credentials, personal and professional identities, sensitive company and personal financial information, etc. This not only leads to data breaches and money loss, but also reputational risks as it creates a negative perception of the brand by clients and consumers.

With this in mind, let’s discuss how brands can protect themselves from cyber threats throughout the holiday season. 

Educate employees and customers

The first thing businesses of all sizes should do is educate their employees and customers on how to recognize a phishing email. Low cybersecurity awareness among staff could lead to the shutdown of important business processes and data leakage. Customers are at the same risk and should be aware of possible threats to be able to recognize them. To reach this goal, businesses can curate specialized content around popular spam and phishing schemes and share via internal and external newsletters, their social media platforms and more to help staff and customers better identify this type of malicious activity. 

See something, say something

Another way to defend your organization against cyber threats is to encourage employees and customers to report all suspicious activities carried out on behalf of your brand. Create an easy way in which they can report any malicious activity by setting up a dedicated email, portal, etc. where they can provide images and proof of the activity so it is easier to manage and remove. 

Increase security settings

Pay attention to the security settings of social media accounts. Many companies post information and communicate with their audience not only on their own resources, but also on external platforms. Be careful about the privacy settings on such platforms, look them through thoroughly, create complex strong passwords and, if possible, set up two-factor authentication. Share all policies with third-party vendors if necessary.

Install trusted cyber security software

Deploy threat intelligence tools that are able to notify IT security teams of brand impersonation attacks in real time. Such solutions can provide them with notifications about targeted phishing and faked social networks accounts and help to track the appearance of the phishing website targeting the brand name of a company as well as to monitor and takedown of fake social network accounts and apps in mobile marketplaces.

Cybercriminals are opportunistic in nature, so shifting the mindset to be proactive and preventive instead of reactive is always a sound choice. By following these outlined steps, businesses will be better positioned to keep their brand and customers safe throughout the holiday season and beyond.