Did you know the risk of being cyber attacked may be greater over a long holiday weekend? The Fourth of July. Labor Day. Thanksgiving. Christmas and New Year’s are all times when hackers put companies, school systems, hospitals and individual home computer networks in their sights.
Hackers Exploit Organizations When They Have Fewer Staff on Duty & When Monitoring Tools Are Absent
Why do cyber attacks commonly occur over long-holiday holiday weekends? Brian Kane, Senior Director of Technology at NerdsToGo says hackers know that businesses and other organizations' staff are out for the holiday and many organizations don’t have the tools or remote monitoring technology systems to alert them of an abnormality or that an atypical process is running.
A School System Experienced One of the Largest Holiday Cyberattacks on Record
Some of the biggest US hacks against computer networks have occurred over a long holiday.
These attacks can be severe, as the Los Angeles Unified School District discovered on Labor Day weekend 2022 when a massive ransomware cyberattack affected 600,000-plus students and faculty. According to the LA Times, the attack was severe enough that it warranted FBI involvement. While campuses reopened, their systems remained compromised and additional damages to sensitive data could continue to arise.
Holiday Ransomware Attacks Can Severe Disrupt Operations and Put Private Data At Risk
CNN reports that the hackers have released some private data. The LA attack was the 50th against the U.S. education sector, and the consequences have been troubling to security experts. A predominantly Black college in Illinois, already affected by the pandemic, had to close after a ransomware attack affected admissions, while an attack on an Albuquerque, NM, school district forced the district to close for two days. That attack also resulted in the release of private information about emergency contacts and adults authorized to pick up students.
Some of the Worst Ransomware Attacks Have Happened on Long Holiday Weekends
It wasn’t by chance that these attacks occurred over a long holiday weekend. In fact, one of the most significant ransomware attacks on the US was executed by the Russian-based REvil gang on the eve of the July 4th, 2021 US holiday weekend. Such attacks are often severe because hackers have more time to do more damage. Even when an attack is caught, because of the holiday, it might take time to get in touch with the people in charge of dealing with the attack, prolonging computer repair, securing the network, recovering data, and alerting authorities. That’s a lot of things to manage in a cyber crisis, which admittedly, is all happening in a very heightened timeframe.
Small Businesses Need to be Prepared for Both Holiday & Weekend Cyberattacks
While long holiday weekends leave computer networks and data more vulnerable to attempted cyber attacks, weekends, in general, are a common time for cybercriminals to make their moves because offices will have fewer people on board to monitor their network and system.
Kane said IT professionals have even coined a term well-known among IT professionals for the increased cybersecurity vulnerability on weekends–Four O’clock on Friday–the time when almost everybody leaves work.
So many small business owners and individuals have the “it won’t happen to me” mentality. But recent cyber hack activity proves otherwise.
“Small and medium businesses are prime targets for hackers\bad actors because a lot of them tend to have minimal to no security in place,” Kane said. “Also, they tend to not have a staffed IT person or IT monitoring software so hackers look at them as low-hanging fruit.”
As we longingly think about and plan for that next long-holiday break, it’s the perfect time to be proactive and think about outsourcing your IT cyber security to tech experts such as NerdsToGo, to protect your network, your data and ultimately your peace of mind.