As we tentatively step into the festive season once again, the trees get put up in our homes and offices, our local streets become illuminated by fluorescent snowflakes and Christmas trees, and we all feel compelled to stock up on mince pies and mulled wine in preparation for the big day. But while Christmas will always be inextricably linked with Mariah Carey, family feuds and cocktail sausages wrapped in bacon, over recent years it has also become synonymous with the latest technology. Whether that is a new smart-phone, tablet or the gadgets, consoles and drones that bulge from the top of the younger generations stockings, time is now reserved in the day to set up our devices, and Christmas isn’t complete without someone showing off their shiny new toy. But during all this time how often do we stop to think about the potential risks our gifts may incur?
One technology trend predicted to be sitting under quite a few Christmas trees this year is the Wearable, and while many may be sat there playing with their Apple Watches or Samsung Gears pretending to be Jean-Luc Picard hailing the Starship Enterprise, you may have cause for concern. HP conducted an investigation into how secure several different wearable devices were and found that each had their own vulnerabilities which included inadequate authentication, concerns around privacy and in some cases a complete lack of encryption. When you consider how much personal information you have stored away on these little devices it is important to recognise the risks to both yourselves and your family, and to be aware. Particularly when considering that such presents invariably find their way into our offices, and you don’t want to be the one responsible for a breach within your firm because your Fitbit was hacked during a data exchange now do you?
The Christmas threats do not end there I’m afraid. As Boxing Day sales kick in I imagine you are not just going to be having a few leftover turkey sandwiches and binge-watching the Walking Dead when bargains are to be had. But, due to increased traffic to websites, Christmas is seen within the cyber security community as a high-risk period for businesses, particularly retailers. Because of these conditions created by the festive period, as well as a reduced level of support from a network security perspective, a perfect storm is created for hackers to take advantage. DDoS attacks can be masked as peak sales traffic, and in the haze of one too many brandies you may find yourself more susceptible to a phishing scam. So be cautious online, make sure when providing your details you submit them on securely encrypted websites using ‘https’, and consider using your laptop to purchase your New Year’s Eve outfit instead of the app version you have on your phone as they can be more vulnerable to breaches.
The Festive cyber threat landscape is larger and more varied than it is often given credit for, and in a time where cybercrime has overtaken traditional crime in the UK, vigilance over the holidays is crucial. So we encourage you to have a safe and happy Christmas, and please do not get caught out this holiday season.