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Why cyber criminals don’t take the holidays off

By , chief information security sfficer of Veeam Software
Africa , 19 Dec 2023
Gil Vega, CISO from Veeam Software.
Gil Vega, CISO from Veeam Software.
What do Santa and cyber criminals have in common?

I love this time of year. Work starts to slow down once the end of year quotas are hit, there is a distinct hint of magic in the air, and I get to dedicate myself to two of my favorite things: overindulging and spending time with family and friends.

As I'm getting stuck into my, no doubt later regretted, second helping of roast potatoes, I often find myself thinking about those whose work gets busier at this time of year. Their hard work keeps essential services running, allowing the rest of us to have a safe and happy holiday season, and for that, I am incredibly grateful.

There is another group that also finds themselves working around the clock during the holiday season, that you should also spare a thought for. No, not Santa and his elves, I'm talking about cyber criminals. Cyber crime goes up by a sizeable 30% in the festive period, meaning cyber criminals are at their busiest.

You might be asking, why this increase? It turns out the holiday season is definitely the most magical time of the year for scammers. Several things contribute to this, but two major factors are 1) people tend to spend a lot of money online at this time of year, 2) people tend to be busy and often feel more stressed than usual. 

This means that in a lot of the world, stressed, busy people are likely relying on System 1 thinking (the fast, effortless, instinctive, non-critical type of thinking), to make decisions about spending large amounts of money. It’s a scammers’ dream come true.

What can you do to protect yourself from festive fraud?

• Have a rough idea of what scams to look out for. Be on the lookout for fake delivery notifications, fake shopping sites and sellers, fake gift cards and vouchers that require payment, fake charities asking for donations, and fake travel offers.

• Incorporate some simple measures to up your protection, like keeping a healthy level of skepticism, doing your research before taking action, choosing payment methods with more protection like credit cards and PayPal, setting alerts up on your banking accounts, and talking to your friends and family about scams that are out there and the simple steps to protect themselves.

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