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Beware the Scourge of Holiday Hackers

More than 137 million Americans will be shopping this Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. Some of them will be out at the stores, while others will be in front of a computer or mobile device, sheltered from the chaos that ensues every year at this time. All of them, whether or not they realize it, will be vulnerable to fraud.

Online Cybercrime

There’s no better time to scam people than during the busy holiday months, when email inboxes are flooded with promotions and bargains, and their hearts are filled with good will. Some offers may seem too good to be true, and that’s because a lot of them are. For years, hackers have used holiday-themed social engineering schemes to trick people into handing over login credentials or downloading malware. With 2016 shaping up to be one of the most lucrative shopping bonanzas to date, there’s little doubt that hackers will be out in droves.

Cyber Monday is just around the corner, and businesses must make sure that they’ve deployed application control software that can help prevent unauthorized executables from launching. You may not be able to stop your employees from holiday bargain hunting during lunch, but you can attempt to keep systems safe by having more control over what applications can execute.

Online retailers need also to make sure they have a way to protect  payment servers from SQL injections and other tactics that could allow hackers to access credit card numbers and personally identifiable information. A good place to start is with web-based perimeter defenses that use active protection to filter out malicious requests.

Don't let hackers spoil your holiday hurrah.

Point-of-Sale Schemes and Other Types of Retail Raids

Then of course there’s the brick-and-mortar store’s point of sale. Merchants get slammed during the holiday season. In the midst of the calamity, retailers need to make sure that endpoints such as customer kiosks are secure, and that they continue to function glitch-free. Should something go wrong, there won’t be much time for IT troubleshooting.

For instance, if an employee happens to come across a misplaced thumb drive, and curiously uploads it to a computer only to find they’ve fallen for one of the oldest social engineering schemes in the book, and that the store’s computers have been locked down with ransomware, your business could be out tens of thousands of dollars on holiday sales.

Or maybe, at some point during the day while looking something up for a customer, an employee accidentally opened up an untrustworthy link, and allowed for the installation of memory-scraping POS malware.

In either scenario, retailers need to have a backup plan. If you’re running Faronics Deep Freeze across your retail IT environment, that plan is called reboot to restore functionality. Maybe a child accidentally deleted shortcuts on a customer kiosk. Or maybe, you really have been infected with ransomware. Either way, with Deep Freeze, a simple reboot can restore the preferred system configuration, so you can continue to capitalize on the holiday season. And for good measure, make sure you boot down your computers at the end of the day. Any malware surreptitiously living on the system will be wiped away before it can cause serious damage.

Don’t let cybercriminals steal Christmas.

Contact Faronics today to learn more about Deep Freeze.

Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.