The holiday season is just around the corner, bringing with it a lot of joy and happiness. This also happens to be the perfect time for malicious activities. During this time of year people tend to be engaged elsewhere and less responsive, allowing criminals to operate easily and go unnoticed. It’s also a period of high-traffic and high-dollar activities, which presents a great opportunity for threat actors to wage profitable attacks.
Remember the Target breach that happened eight years ago? 40 million customer credit card details were stolen during the holiday season. Studies afterward showed limited damage in the long run, however with the current sophistication and maturity of malicious actors this type of attack would be much more devastating today. Why is that?
There are at least four reasons why bad actors have gotten increasingly sophisticated over time:
- Big bucks can be earned quickly with little to no penalty. Many hackers and scammers can get away with just about anything, especially when they live in countries that ignore cyber attacks beyond national borders. Similar to hi-tech companies, hacking groups and organizations can even post job offers to lure in the best talent.
- Digital transformation, fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many organizations have been driven to depend on remote online interfaces, both for customers and remote access for employees. This has played a major role in expanding the attack surface, creating more opportunities for attackers to execute attacks.
- The latest advancements in technology help bad actors as well. It’s now feasible to scan the entire internet for a specific security gap in less than 48 hours. Since most organizations have weekly or monthly patch service level agreements (SLAs), this provides a window of opportunity for exploiting vulnerabilities.
- Specialization of skills and attacks. Similar to other maturing industries such as financial services and agriculture, cybersecurity has malicious groups specializing in different phases of an attack lifecycle. For example, the FIN12 group is focused on ransomware deployment and ensuring the target organizations’ critical data and mission-critical infrastructure will be down without easy backup restoration. FIN12 works in partnership with other criminal gangs responsible for initial access establishment.
Given these reasons, potential damage could put businesses down for hours or days during peak holiday season; giving way to far more painful disasters than the Target breach in 2013.
Technology is the major silver lining here. With the ability to reduce risk from sophisticated attackers, attack surface management solutions proactively discover and monitor your organization’s attack surface for potential risks and ideal opportunities for attackers. They allow you to uncover and respond to risks before they can evolve into major issues. These tools are key to winning the battle and staying safe this holiday season.