The holiday season is a time for celebration, relaxation, and quality time with loved ones. For many employees, this means taking some well-deserved time off and traveling to visit family and friends. This year, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has screened a record number of passengers and anticipates airport security checkpoints nationwide will be busier than ever this holiday travel season.
While the holidays are a time to unwind, they are also a prime time for cybercriminals to target unsuspecting individuals, especially those who are away from the office and may not be as vigilant about cybersecurity. At Excedeo, your trusted managed IT support firm and cybersecurity expert in San Diego, we understand the importance of keeping your business secure year-round. Let us review some of the cybersecurity threats that employees may face during holiday travel and provide tips on how to protect your business.
Holiday Travel Cybersecurity Threats
As employees gear up for well-deserved vacations and visits to loved ones, they inadvertently become prime targets for cybercriminals seeking to exploit their vulnerability while they’re away from the office:
Public Wi-Fi Risks
One of the most significant cybersecurity threats during holiday travel is the use of public Wi-Fi networks. Many travelers rely on public Wi-Fi at airports, cafes, hotels, and other public places to stay connected. However, public Wi-Fi networks are often insecure and can be easily exploited by cybercriminals. Hackers can intercept your data, steal sensitive information, and gain unauthorized access to your devices when you connect to these networks.
Phishing attacks are a common threat during the holiday season. Cybercriminals send fraudulent emails, text messages, or social media messages that appear to be from legitimate sources. These messages often contain malicious links or attachments designed to trick recipients into revealing sensitive information or downloading malware. When employees are on vacation and receiving an influx of holiday-related emails, they may be more susceptible to falling for phishing scams.
Lost or Stolen Devices
Traveling can increase the risk of losing or having electronic devices stolen. Losing a smartphone, laptop, or tablet can be a nightmare, especially if the device contains sensitive company data. Cybercriminals who find or steal such devices may attempt to access the information stored on them, potentially compromising your business’s security.
Employees who travel during the holidays may connect their devices to various networks and hardware, such as rental cars, hotel room televisions, or public charging stations. Your sensitive data could be at risk if you connect your smartphone or tablet to a rental car infotainment system via Bluetooth and USB. These connections can be vulnerable to cyberattacks, as hackers may exploit vulnerabilities in these devices to gain access to personal or business data. Consider the implications: Your customer databases, financial records, or proprietary information could be at stake if a cybercriminal gains access through your seemingly innocent connection.
Protecting Your Business During the Holidays
While we’ve shed light on the lurking threats of holiday travel cybersecurity, the story doesn’t end there. Let’s explore how you can protect your business during this busy and often hectic time.
VPNs and Secure Connections
Require your employees to use virtual private networks (VPNs) when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. VPNs encrypt internet traffic, making it more difficult for cybercriminals to intercept data. Additionally, advise employees to connect only to trusted networks and avoid using public Wi-Fi for sensitive transactions.
Provide cybersecurity awareness training to your employees before they leave for holiday travel. Teach them how to recognize phishing attempts, verify the authenticity of emails, and avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading unknown attachments. A well-informed team is your strongest defense against cyber threats, ensuring that your business stays secure even when employees are away from the office.
Ensure that all company-owned devices are properly secured with strong passwords, PINs, or biometric authentication. Enable remote tracking and wiping features on mobile devices to safeguard sensitive data in case of loss or theft. This capability allows you to remotely locate the device and, if necessary, erase all sensitive data to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.
Install Security Software
Ensure that all company devices have up-to-date antivirus and anti-malware software installed. Cyberattacks cause tremendous damage and expense. According to IBM’s 2023 Cost of a Data Breach Report, the average impact of a data breach on organizations with fewer than 500 employees is $3.31 million; the average cost per breached record is $164. Antivirus software can identify and block many viruses before they can infect a computer; it works by looking for patterns based on the signatures or definitions of known malware. These security tools can detect and prevent threats from infecting devices, even when employees are on the go.
Advise employees to back up their data before traveling. Cloud-based backup solutions are ideal for ensuring that critical business data is safe and can be accessed from anywhere. The best cloud backup services constantly copy data back and forth from your employees’ devices to cloud servers elsewhere in the world which you can easily reach from anywhere with internet access. Inthe unfortunate event of an employee’s device being lost or stolen during their holiday travels, cloud-based backup solutions offer a robust safety net for your business data.
Contact Excedeo To Holiday-Proof Your IT Infrastructure
At Excedeo, we are committed to helping San Diego businesses stay secure year-round. By following the cybersecurity tips mentioned in this blog post, you can help protect your business from potential risks and ensure a worry-free holiday season for both your employees and your organization. Take our cybersecurity assessment to see how robust your cybersecurity measures are. Excedeo’s cybersecurity assessment will identify IT vulnerabilities—and provide solutions—to keep your business protected. Don’t leave your organization’s security to chance, especially during the holiday season. Take action now and reach out to Excedeo to explore our comprehensive cybersecurity services. Your business’s safety is our priority, and we’re here to guide you every step of the way.