Skip to Main Content

Happy holidays or bah humbug due to cyber attacks?

Last week we saw a couple of major cyber attacks in our country. Ardent Health Services, a Nashville-based provider, had a ransomware attack on Thanksgiving Day that disrupted its IT operations, forced emergency room patients to be transferred to other facilities, and eventually led Ardent Health to close 3 of its 30 emergency rooms.

On Friday, December 1, 2023, we woke to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) responding to an active cyberattack on a water facility in western Pennsylvania. Fortunately, the water authority promptly responded by taking the affected system offline and transitioning to manual operations.

As cybersecurity threats to critical infrastructure continue to evolve, it is crucial for organizations to proactively adopt and implement robust security measures. LRS Education Services provides training for all levels of cyber security for organizations to better understand, manage, and reduce their cybersecurity risk and protect their networks and data.

But what about you? This year, Gallup polls indicate that of all holiday shoppers, 93%, will buy at least some gifts online this year, including almost half who will purchase most (41%) or all (6%) of their holiday gifts from online retailers. Here are a few tips from the National Cybersecurity Alliance Shopping Toolkit to help you stay safe online while buying gifts. We don’t want you to become a cybersecurity statistic during the holidays!

  • Keep an eye on your bank statements:
    • Flag any suspicious activity and contact the institution immediately.
  • Make a cybersecurity list, check it twice:
    • This year, give yourself the gift of peace of mind by following our Core 4 behaviors: 
      1. Protect each account with a unique, complex password that is at least 12 characters long – and use a password manager!
      2. Use multifactor authentication (MFA) for any account that allows it.
      3. Turn on automatic software updates or install updates as soon as they are available.
      4. Know how to identify phishing attempts, and report phishing messages to your email program, work, or other authorities.
  • Shopping on public wi-fi:
    • If you must buy gifts online while away from your home or work network, use a VPN (virtual private network) or mobile hotspot.  
  • Sharing more than you feel comfortable with:
    • While you need to share data to make a purchase online, you should be wary of any retailer that is requesting more information than you feel comfortable sharing.

And finally, keep the spirit of cybersecurity going all year long! If you’d like more information from an expert, or are looking for training to meet compliance requirements for your employer, attend our short CyberSAFE Security Awareness training!

Wishing you the best, cyber safe, holiday season!

Margaret Teague, Manager, Education Services