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During the festive season, a time synonymous with celebration and generosity, cybercriminals seize the opportunity to exploit vulnerabilities within businesses. Spanning from deceptive phishing attacks camouflaged as holiday greetings to elaborate financial fraud schemes, these scams present a significant threat to a company’s financial health and data security.

In this article, we delineate potential scams that could target your business during the holiday season, shedding light on significant threats and providing practical strategies for businesses to protect both their interests and their workforce.


1. Fraudulent Online Stores Targeting Corporate Purchases

During the holidays, increased corporate gift-giving makes businesses vulnerable to online scams. Cybercriminals create fake e-commerce websites with enticing holiday deals. When purchases are made, payment information is compromised, and no products are delivered.


To address this risk, businesses should educate employees about the dangers of using unverified websites for transactions. Purchasing staff should be trained to spot signs like HTTP in the URL, typos, poor website design, and overly tempting deals.


Mitigating this risk involves creating a company-approved vendor list, using a dedicated corporate credit card with fraud protection, and having IT security monitor network traffic for potential threats. Advanced cybersecurity software can provide real-time alerts for visits to suspicious sites.


2. Fake Invoices Amidst Hectic Year-End Accounting

Year-end rush in accounting departments makes it an ideal time for invoice scams, where fraudsters slip in fake invoices amid the processing volume. To combat this, businesses should enforce robust internal controls, verifying invoices against purchase orders, auditing vendor files, and training staff to spot inconsistencies. Implementing a digital invoice management system can automate matching processes and flag discrepancies using machine learning. Establishing a thorough verification process for changes in vendor payment details, including phone calls and written confirmation, is also recommended.



3. Holiday-Inspired Spear Phishing

During the holidays, sophisticated spear-phishing attacks mimic legitimate communications, often appearing as messages from leaders or familiar vendors offering bonuses or gifts. To combat this, companies should conduct thorough cybersecurity training, highlighting indicators like urgent language and unexpected links. Implementing email authentication protocols like DMARC and establishing a protocol for verifying unusual requests, especially those involving finances or personal information, is crucial.


 4. Deceptive Online Shops Going After Business Transactions

 During the holidays, businesses are prime targets for fake online retail scams, with cybercriminals creating deceptive websites offering attractive but fake deals. To safeguard against this, educate employees about the risks of using unverified websites for corporate purchases. Train purchasing staff to spot red flags, implement a company-approved vendor list, and use a dedicated corporate credit card with fraud protection. IT security teams can monitor network traffic for potential threats using advanced cybersecurity software.


5. Compromised E-Cards Used as Entry Points

Digital holiday cards, while popular and eco-friendly, pose a cybersecurity risk as cybercriminals often use them to disguise malware. Clicking on links or downloading these cards can install malware, ranging from spyware to ransomware, jeopardising the entire system if connected to the company’s network.

To prevent such risks, companies should implement strict email filtering systems, train employees to be cautious with electronic greetings, and encourage verification of sender authenticity. Designating an IT team member or a system to verify digital cards before wider access and keeping security software updated are crucial precautions.


6. Holiday Apps Camouflaging Ransomware

Holiday-themed apps, whether for smartphones or desktops, might seem festive but can harbour ransomware. After installation, these malicious apps can encrypt important company files, demanding a ransom.

Prevention is key. Enforce a policy against downloading non-essential, unapproved apps on company devices. Educate employees on the risks of unauthorised software, especially the threat of ransomware.

Ensure you have a robust antivirus solution, and regularly back up critical data to minimise the impact of ransomware attacks.


7. Financial Scams at Year’s End

As businesses conclude their fiscal year, they may face sophisticated email scams involving impersonation of senior executives or finance officials. To counter these scams, establish a verification process for all financial transactions initiated via email. Educate employees on these scams, emphasising the importance of verifying the authenticity of unusual financial requests through direct calls or in-person confirmations, especially for high-value transactions. Utilising email filters that flag external domain emails can help identify potentially fraudulent communications. Encouraging a culture where employees feel comfortable questioning unusual requests, even from higher-ups, is crucial for a secure financial environment.


8. Office Address Targeted by Package Delivery Scams

During the holidays, scammers exploit the increase in office deliveries by sending fake notifications via email or text, often with phishing links. Advise employees to track deliveries directly through the courier’s official site using the provided tracking number. Be cautious of unsolicited notifications, especially those demanding urgent action or personal information.


Implement a centralised process for handling deliveries, assigning a person or department to track and receive all packages. This helps prevent individual employees from interacting with potentially fraudulent messages.


The holiday season brings joy but also heightened cybersecurity threats. Businesses can protect themselves by understanding the potential scams and educating employees to identify and respond to these threats. Promoting a culture of cybersecurity awareness and implementing robust measures ensures a secure holiday season for your business. For more information, get in touch with our sales team.