With the holiday season approaching, threat actors are preparing to execute their malicious intent. Hence, CISOs should take extra precautionary measures that will enable them to keep their infrastructure secure during the most vulnerable moments.
As 2022 is just around the corner, many professionals and organizations are rushing towards their preparations for the holiday season. But, they are not alone. Cybercriminals, often find holidays as the perfect time to launch their cyber-attacks since most organizations fail to take enough precautions to keep their infrastructure secure.
With e-commerce activities to boost significantly over this period, many threat actors utilize advanced methodologies for cyber-attacks. In early 2021, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) reminded organizations to be concerned about ransomware awareness for the holiday season. While it is not possible to pivot from the cyber defense strategy at the last moment, there are certain steps that CISOs can take to make a difference. To effectively secure their infrastructure organizations distinguish strategies in the short and long term.
Here are few strategies that organizations can implement right now:
1. Taking precaution with emails
One of the biggest weapons of cybercriminals is distraction. They tend to thrive on credential phishing and ransomware attacks that significantly rise during the holiday season. Hence, CISOs should ask the employees of the organization to only use their office allotted devices only for work. They should ask their employees to be extra vigilant with emails promoting special holiday offers and deals.
Deceptive emails with malicious links or attachments can wreak havoc using ransomware into the enterprise network. Phishing attacks can also take the forms of SMS, social networks and instant messaging. CISOs should make their staff aware of these kinds of risks. They should advise them to scrutinize emails that are consistent with links or urges to download stuff.
2. Having on-call IT Security Staff
Since most of the IT staff is on vacation, there will be fewer employees to monitor infrastructure and report any issues. If the site goes down, or someone takes steps to breach the infrastructure, CISOs should ensure that they have a backup in place. They should ensure that they have an IT security staff in place in case an incident occurs.
Malicious actors are able to remain hidden in the network for a long time before anyone detects them. This provides them the opportunity to steal a large set of data. They can then take the confidential information that threat actors can then encrypt critical files to later hold for ransom. To tackle this situation, organizations should engage in preemptive threat hunting. They should review their data logs as well as scan for suspicious activity. If possible, they should check for continuous failed file modifications, increased CPU/disk activity as well as inability to access files as well as abnormal network communications.
Strategies for long-term:
4. Setting offline data backup plan
Malicious actors utilize ransomware attacks to encrypt critical data files that organizations will not be able to access. Not only that, even after paying the required sum, there is no guarantee that the attackers will be able to decrypt the files. Hence, it is critical for CISOs to set up an offline data backup plan for their critical files. CISOs should consider scheduling their backup update and testing before the holiday season every year.
5. Updating Software
Cybercriminals always scour the network to find vulnerabilities that they can exploit. If the organization has outdated software in place, it exposes the organization to weaknesses with no update.
CISOs should create an unpatched vulnerability plan that begins with risk prioritization. While vulnerability assessment and scanning can identify hundreds or potentially thousands of weak links, it is not possible to fix all of them at the same time. Therefore, organizations should focus on the ones closest to mission-critical systems as well as internet-facing servers. CISOs should have a centralized patch management system along with risk-based assessment to build an effective patch strategy.
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