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When it comes to cyber security, check it twice

Christmas can be a vulnerable time for security threats so make sure you and your IT systems are prepared

Christmas is a wonderful time of year, but in amongst all the parties and mince pies, it’s worth taking a moment to double check your IT security is up to date, because it can also be a bumper time for cyber criminals. We take a look at some of the reasons why individuals and organisations may be more vulnerable at Christmas.

Tracking spending patterns

Our spending patterns vary in December and make it harder for AI computer programmes to spot potentially fraudulent transactions. It is estimated that the UK spent £8.2bn over the Black Friday / Cyber Monday weekend and that’s just a fraction of the Christmas shopping we’re all doing right now. The banks expect a spike in spending at this time of year, which makes it easier to slip through a fraudulent transaction in amongst all those online orders and trips to the shops. Make sure you’re checking your statements regularly – not only will it help you spot any potential fraud, it also has the added benefit of keeping you within your budget.

Card Not Present provides opportunity for fraudsters

There is a rise in the number of fraudulent CNP, or ‘Card Not Present’ transactions. It is considered a weak link in security protocols because there are many ways for criminals to obtain the card details and there is no need to provide a PIN or demonstrate that you have an accurate signature match. CNP fraud is expected to rise to £680m by 2021 so make sure you keep your card details safe and if you’re running a business that takes card payments over the phone, make sure you’ve got all the right virus protection and programmes for securely processing the payments without storing the data.

People are the greatest threat to cyber security

This time of year, people are very busy. They’re rushing to get their work done, thinking about the Christmas break, perhaps they’re hungover from a Christmas party the night before or just very tired from all the preparation. This means that people may be distracted or tempted to cut corners and that’s when you become more vulnerable to a cyber-attack. Make sure that your firewall and security settings are up to date but remember that people’s actions are just as important as the technology you have installed. Be aware of what you’re doing while you’re online at home, and if you manage a team, make sure they remember that especially at this time of year, all the right procedures can protect the business and your customers from data breaches and card fraud.