Protect, Cyber Security

How the Real Grinch Stole Christmas: Keeping Cyber Criminals Away from Your Business

I love a classic Christmas movie, and one of my favorites is How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The Grinch lives high on a mountaintop away from all the villagers of Who-ville. To ruin their Christmas, he decides to sneak into town while they are all celebrating Christmas to steal all of their gifts. In the end, the Grinch’s heart grows seeing that the lack of gifts didn’t impact the villagers’ Christmas cheer.

However, we wouldn’t be so lucky with the real Grinches of the holidays, cyber criminals.

Like the Grinch, cyber criminals love to attack when we are distracted by the cheer and excitement of the holidays. With consumers looking for the best deals for the holiday season, cybercriminals see billions of dollars’ worth of possibilities. According to comScore’s quarterly State of Retail report, in the third quarter of 2015, Americans spent $69.7 billion online. If a cyber-thief infiltrated your systems, your small business could be down for days or weeks. You could experience a loss of customers and much more.

Here are the top scams of the season so your small business can be prepared against the real grinches:

  1. Phishing Emails

    Amazon is the top e-commerce site in the world, and cyber thieves are using this to their advantage. They are sending phishing emails to Amazon users that claim some accounts have been hacked. The email starts with “Important Notice” and asks that you “verify” your account by providing your personal information. By providing your sensitive information, you are giving them a gateway into your pocketbook. With the excitement surrounding the Star Wars premiere this month, cyber criminals are using the opening as an opportunity to target fans. Through phishing emails, cyber thieves are tricking fans into entering to win free movie tickets. With both of these phishing email schemes, it’s important to remember to think before you click.

  2. Shipping notifications

    With more people going online for their shopping needs, cyber criminals are taking advantage of a typical transaction. They are using fake shipping notifications to gain access and install malware on your system. Before you click on the tracking number, ask yourself have you ordered something recently that matches this shipping notification? If not, don’t click on the link in the email.

  3. Charities

    The holiday season is the time many choose to give back to their communities and to charities. Before your small business makes a donation to a charity, do your research. Many cyber thieves create fake charities to receive the donations of those desiring to give back.

  4. Free gift offers

    You’ve seen it before; you’re scrolling through social media or a website, and you see an offer for a free gift if you just “click here.” Don’t click. That click could help install malware on your device. Also be aware of those letters in the mail that will send you a $500 check in exchange for your personal information.

  5. Tech Support

    The tech support scam is becoming increasingly popular, and it can be detrimental to your small business. During the attack, someone will call you out of the blue acting as tech support. If you weren’t expecting a call from tech support or don’t recognize the company they represent, hang up. Here are some helpful tips to remember when it comes to tech support:

  • Don’t allow a third party who calls you out of the blue to control your computer.
  • Don’t rely on caller ID in this situation. Criminals can spoof the ID, allowing you to think they are from a legitimate company
  • Don’t rely on searches to find a helpful tech company. Scammers place ads and have high search rankings so you can fall into their trap. Use the software packaging to find the best number to
  • reach the company.
  • Don’t give your credit card information to a tech support person.
  • Never give someone your password over the phone.

Just like the Grinch swooped in without notice and took all of Who-ville’s belongings, cyber criminals can infiltrate your small business when you least expect it. The last thing you need as a small business owner is a cyber-attack during the most wonderful time of the year. Be aware of grinches this holiday season.