Cyber Attacks During the Holidays – NSM Advises Businesses to Prepare for Christmas

No one wants their Christmas holiday disrupted by a cyber attack. With the holiday season just days away, the Norwegian National Security Authority (NSM) shares three specific pieces of advice for digital preparedness to ensure a peaceful holiday season. Having effective preparedness and clear plans for the holidays reduces the risk of cyber attacks with serious consequences.

Martin Albert-Hoff, head of the National Cyber Security Center at NSM, emphasizes the importance of maintaining preparedness during the holiday season due to past incidents. Two years ago, numerous Norwegian businesses faced serious cyber operations in December.

Even this summer, a cyber attack on 12 Norwegian ministries was uncovered in the midst of the holiday season. Handling attacks during regular days is challenging, and it becomes even more demanding during holidays if businesses are not adequately prepared.

“Preparedness is cheaper than cleaning up after a cyber attack. Often, there isn’t much needed to enhance security for most businesses. Weak passwords and technical debt remain the most vulnerable points for Norwegian businesses, and there’s a simple remedy for that,” says Albert-Hoff.

NSM’s Three Specific Recommendations for Digital Preparedness During Christmas:

  1. Check that your crisis plans are up-to-date. Create a list of employees who are or can be available in case of an incident. In the event of a digital crisis, employees with technical expertise, communication professionals, and management are crucial.
  2. Review basic security measures in the business. Double-check that multi-factor authentication and strong passwords are in place.
  3. Remind all employees that Christmas is the peak season for attempts at digital extortion, phishing, and other cyber attacks. Albert-Hoff emphasizes that everyone is susceptible, making it crucial to remind all employees. Threat actors often target moments of vulnerability, running scams against employees in organizations or attempting to deceive online retailers for Christmas gifts.

Albert-Hoff concludes by urging businesses experiencing irregularities to notify the National Cyber Security Center. Every report contributes to NSM’s ability to build a comprehensive situational awareness crucial for national security.