Stay cyber-secure over the holiday season

Stay cyber-secure over the holiday season


If you're preparing to travel over the holidays, it's important to be alert to cybercrime and the steps you can take to protect your interests.

As we arrange to spend the holiday season with family and friends in a post-lockdown world, it may mean more domestic and international travel and the continuation of working remotely. Unfortunately, this time of year also brings an increase in cybercrime.

Here’s how to ensure you stay alert to issues like payments fraud, and steps to protect your personal details as we continue to communicate, transact and work online.

Payments fraud

Fraudulent attacks on companies have surged following the COVID-19 pandemic, as cyber criminals take advantage of businesses changing their processes to working remotely. This leaves them vulnerable to invoice and check fraud, as well as business email compromise, when someone impersonates a business contact and asks you to send funds to an alternative account.

To help combat payments fraud, businesses can incorporate:

  • Extra processes to validate payment requests, like an in-person meeting or a phone call with a known number for that vendor.
  • Dual control, which requires an approver or checker when adding a new payee or changing a vendor’s existing payment details.
  • A process for email address authentication across the business. 
  • Using their bank’s fraud protection and detection services – like an automated clearing house (ACH), debit blocks and filters, and positive pay with payee name verification. 
  • Electronic payment methods to avoid the risk of check fraud.
  • A separation of payable and receivable bank accounts to help protect both incoming funds and receivable accounts from outgoing fraudulent payments.

Being aware of official advice and alerts from the government around the latest fraud trends is another way to bolster your approach to cybersecurity. If your business is victim to a fraud attempt, contact your bank, insurer and the police to report the incident.

Ways to enhance your individual cybersecurity:

Review and update your passwords regularly 

Although it’s tempting to use the same password for multiple accounts, if someone does manage to obtain it, they could try it on many other sites. Regularly changing your passwords for your bank accounts, email and social media provides extra protection, as can turning on two-step verification where available (which adds a layer of security to the login process).

Make your passwords difficult combinations of uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as special characters. A long password is also more secure, like a phrase, lyric or words meaningful to you. Don’t share your passwords with anyone or write them down.

Keep secure over email by reading the small print

Suspicious emails often come with bad spelling, formatting and grammar, and from a sender with an email address containing random characters. If you hover over links within these emails, you’ll be able to view the destination webpage and whether it looks like it could be a link to a fraudulent site.

Securing your devices

Always install the system updates when your device informs you, as neglecting them can leave you more vulnerable. Simple steps like using a passcode or thumbprint to access your device or keeping your Bluetooth turned off when not needed can enhance your security.

iPhones come with their own anti-virus software. Android users should consider Google Play Protect – which regularly checks your existing apps (along with every new app you install). It’s worth reviewing your apps every few months and uninstalling ones you don’t use. 

Backing up your phone’s data on a cloud storage platform is also important if it’s lost, stolen or damaged. iPhones offer a Find My iPhone feature and on Android it’s called Find My Device – both allow you to track down your phone and remotely wipe your data if the phone has been stolen.

Security while working remotely 

If you or your staff are working remotely over the holidays, the location should host a secure Wi-Fi connection and if needed, a virtual private network (VPN) to deter potential fraudsters.

With guidance, those working remotely can adopt practices to make their online environment more secure and implement suitable secured arrangements in their workspace in case of potential security issues. This approach will help ensure your business continues to operate as efficiently and safely as possible.

To discuss strategies to help mitigate risk and strengthen your cybersecurity this holiday season, please contact us.


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