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The Gift of Cybersecurity

Staying Protected During the 2023 Holiday Season

The holiday season is a bustling time for everyone, from frequent shoppers to small business owners. With increased online activities ranging from managing online storefronts, keeping track of inventory, and juggling quick changes to payroll patterns, along with quick purchasing and big spending, the holidays usher in a heightened risk of cyber threats. Threat actors expect all of this, and will be poised to exploit weak passwords and compromised accounts.

As you prepare for the holiday season, take care to tighten your digital defenses, and keep up with good digital hygiene practices.

The Challenge of Password Reuse

Passwords are your first line of digital defense this holiday season, so don’t neglect them!

Small business owners often find themselves juggling various accounts, from e-commerce platforms and financial systems to email and social media. In the whirlwind of holiday activities, it might be tempting to create easy-to-remember passwords, reuse passwords across your accounts, or share passwords for various accounts for the sake of convenience. However, this habit creates a weak point for your business’s cybersecurity. Cybercriminals are well aware of this habit and exploit it as a prime opportunity for their malicious deeds.

If a hacker gains access to one account through a reused password, they can infiltrate multiple accounts tied to your business and your personal data, potentially leading to data breaches, credit card fraud, identity theft, and reputation damage.

The same issue is relevant for individuals just doing their normal holiday shopping. Each time a user creates an account for a new website, they have the opportunity to create a password; all too often, they just use their favorite one, perhaps with small changes to satisfy password requirements.

Unfortunately, this habit chips away at your personal security each time you do it.

For shoppers this holiday season, here are some secure password practices and defensive tips you can use that won’t hinder your festive fun.

  • Create unique, complex passwords for each of your business or shopping-related accounts. To facilitate this, consider using a reliable password manager. These tools securely store and generate strong, unique passwords for your accounts, making it easier to maintain good password hygiene.
  • Be on the lookout for phishing scams preying on your holiday spirit and the giving season; be wary of unrealistic deals and websites looking for too much personal information. Keep an eye on your bank accounts to monitor for any suspicious activity.
  • Enable MFA (multifactor authentication) whenever it’s available. This additional layer of security requires a second form of verification, enhancing the safety of your accounts.

If you’re a manager or business owner, educate your employees about the dangers of password reuse and the importance of strong, unique passwords. Encourage them to follow secure password practices as well.

Remember, too, that threat actors will use the chaos of the holiday season to fly under the radar. During your busy season, don’t become lax when it comes to monitoring your accounts. Check them frequently for any unusual or unauthorized activity. Limit access to sensitive business accounts and systems, even if it might be more convenient in the short term. Ensuring that only authorized personnel can make changes or access critical information will help you keep your data and systems secure.

The holiday season can be a time of great opportunity and growth for small businesses, but it’s also a period of increased cybersecurity risks. Password reuse is a bad habit that can expose your business to serious threats. By embracing secure password practices, such as using unique passwords and implementing MFA, small business owners can fortify their digital defenses. This holiday season, protect your business, customers, and reputation by breaking free from the dangerous cycle of password reuse.

Wishing you a safe and successful holiday season!