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Heightened cyber threats this holiday season according to McAfee and FireEye

By Ryan Morris-Reade, Wed 15 Dec 2021

McAfee Enterprise and FireEye research have revealed that Australian enterprises are being targeted by cyber threats this holiday period, costing some over AUD$130,000.

The company's say in the lead up to the holiday season, supply chain and logistics, e-commerce, retail, and travel industries have seen predictable increases in consumer and business activity, making them more vulnerable to cyber threats and leaving businesses, employees, and consumers data at risk.

The research, Cybercrime in a Pandemic World: The Impact of COVID-19 findings, reveals the imminent need for organisations to prioritise and strengthen their cybersecurity architecture. The findings indicate that during the pandemic 81% of global organisations experienced increased cyber threats, with 51% of Australian organisations experiencing downtime due to a cyber incident during a peak season. 

"After a tough lockdown period in 2021, Australians are eager to celebrate this upcoming holiday season with friends and family and spend some of their accumulated savings on cherished activities," says McAfee Enterprise senior regional director, Australia & New Zealand, Bastian Schmederer.

"This pent-up demand will provide a great window for opportunistic cybercriminals, who will look to exploit businesses who are more focused on reinvigorating their bottom-line, than strengthening their cybersecurity infrastructure. Cybersecurity due diligence must remain front-of-mind for businesses of all sizes," he says.

Heightened focus on key industries

In addition to increased consumer spending, the holiday season sees a significant impact on industries coping with the increase in consumer demands. Eighty-seven percent of IT professionals are anticipating a moderate to substantial increase in demand during the 2021 holiday season. 

"This year, the 'everything shortage' is real from a shortage in workforce to limited supplies to lack of services to deliver goods," the company's say.

"This creates an urgency for organisations to have actionable security plans and to effectively contain and respond to threats. Our research aims to give companies more information on how the heightened focus on supply chain and logistics, e-commerce and travel will be impacted."

Supply chain and logistics
According to BCI’s Supply Chain Resilience Report 2021, 27.8% of organisations reported more than 20 supply chain disruptions during 2020, up from just 4.8% reporting the same number in 2019. The loss of manufacturing and logistics capacity, and employee power, paired with increasing demand for goods, has created the perfect attack vector for cybercriminals: a potentially weak and vulnerable infrastructure to breakthrough. 

E-commerce and retail
According to Adobe’s 2021 Digital Economy Index, global online spending is expected to increase by 11% in 2021 to $910 billion during the holiday season. With store closures and increases in online shopping, along with limited product availability and concerns about shipping, this industry is faced with more threats than before. 

Travel
Cyber threats aren’t new to the travel industry – airports, airlines, travel sites and ride-sharing apps have been victims in years past. However, what sets it apart this year is that the industry has been in a holding pattern because of pandemic-related health concerns and travel restrictions. 

What organisations need to know

While IT professionals know cyber threats have intensified, the findings prove that organisations have not effectively prioritised security during COVID.

Some key findings from the report include: 

  • 51% of Australian organisations have suffered from downtime due to a cyber concern, costing some over AUD$130,000.
  • 83% find maintaining a fully staffed security team/SOC even more challenging during peak periods.
  • 64% of IT security professionals expect half or more of their organisation's workforce to be remote in some capacity.
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