Businesses worried about cyberattacks during the holidays, report finds

Washington — After a year of headline-grabbing ransomware attacks, businesses say they’re worried about the possibility they’ll face cyber intrusions this holiday season, a time when many of their cybersecurity operations rely on skeleton staffing. 

Boston-based cybersecurity firm Cybereason commissioned a survey of 1,206 cybersecurity professionals at organizations that experienced a ransomware attack during a holiday or weekend within the last year. A whopping 89% of the respondents from the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Singapore, Spain, South Africa, and UAE indicated that they were concerned about a repeat cyber intrusion ahead of the holiday season. However, 36% said they had no “specific contingency plan in place to mount a response.”

“The question becomes, at what point does this concern from cyber professionals translate into an action plan?” Cybereason CEO Lior Div told CBS News. “Do organizations have the right tools, processes and people in place to deal with an attack specifically in the upcoming holiday season? Hackers love to hack when they know we’re distracted and not ready to respond.”

The study revealed that organizations in the healthcare (65%) and manufacturing (67%) sectors — two of the biggest targets for ransomware attacks — were among the industries least likely to have developed contingency plans.

Cybercriminals have expanded hacking operations to repeatedly target the healthcare industry amid the coronavirus pandemic, leading to worsened health outcomes and excess deaths at hospitals.

Critical medical systems targeted by hackers


Ahead of Labor Day weekend, the FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) published a joint advisory warning of an “increase in highly impactful ransomware attacks occurring on holidays and weekends — when offices are normally closed — in the United States,” following a string of high-profile cyber incidents over long weekends.

Days later, Howard University in Washington, D.C. was forced to cancel classes for more than a week after…