I'm writing this article on a holiday weekend, just few days to the most important American holiday, the Independence Day. I can't help but think about how vulnerable we are to cybercrime during these times. Last year, cybercrime cost the US more than $10 billion.
The cyberspace has become a battlefield where malicious actors wage economic warfare against countries, especially the US by attacking our most cherished celebrations. Holidays hold a special place in our hearts. Whether it's the festive spirit of Christmas, the joyous fireworks on Independence Day, or the gratitude-filled Thanksgiving dinner, these occasions bring us together as a nation. Unfortunately, cybercriminals have recognized the vulnerability of our heightened emotions during these times and have strategically honed in on them. But should we cower in fear of cyberattacks and refrain from our cherished ways of life and freedom?
In recent years, there has been a growing trend of cyberattacks targeting American holidays. These cyberattacks are strategically orchestrated to target both businesses and consumers, resulting in significant economic repercussions for the United States. Startlingly, the most severe cyber incidents of the past decade occurred during or around major holidays, such as Memorial Day, July 4th, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. It is crucial for businesses to be aware of this trend and take necessary precautions to protect themselves and customers from these attacks.
One of the most notable examples of a cyberattack targeting an American holiday was the 2013 Target data breach which occurred a day after Thanksgiving. In that attack, hackers stole personal information of over 70 million Target customers, costing the company more than $300 million. In 2021, cybercriminals compromised JBS, one of the world largest meat processors, on Memorial Day weekend and demanded $11 million ransom.
Shortly after the JBS incident, on the July 4th holiday weekend, Kaseya, a global software solutions provider, fell victim to one of the largest ransomware attacks in recent history. Even more recently, during this year's Memorial Day weekend, Progress Software suffered a major ransomware incident which affected several US government agencies and businesses. This incident serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing threat posed by cybercriminals, particularly during important national holidays.
There are a number of reasons why cybercriminals target holidays. People are more likely to be online during holidays. They're shopping, checking social media, and making travel arrangements. This makes them easier targets for hackers. Businesses are also more vulnerable during holidays. They're often understaffed, and the response times to cyber incidents are typically reduced.
Although the spotlight has been on cyberattacks targeting American holidays, it's important to recognize that these attacks are not confined to the United States alone. The impact extends globally, as multinational supply chain vendors like SolarWinds, Microsoft, TSMC, and Progressive Software support a global clientele. As a result, protecting the global economy requires a collaborative effort involving governments, businesses, and individuals from all corners of the globe.
Governments needs to understand that foreign cybercriminals constitute a threat to their national security. As a such, they must strengthen their cybersecurity infrastructure, implement robust regulations, and invest in cutting-edge technologies. By doing so, they can bolster their national defenses against cyber threats.
Businesses must prioritize cybersecurity measures, regularly update their systems, and educate their employees about potential threats. This proactive approach can help minimize the risk of successful attacks, safeguarding both customer data and their bottom line.
Individuals need to be vigilant and exercise caution while online. It is crucial to be aware of common cyber threats, practice good password hygiene, and refrain from clicking on suspicious links or downloading unknown files. Additionally, reporting any suspicious activities or potential vulnerabilities can help authorities stay one step ahead of cybercriminals.
As Americans gear up to celebrate July Fourth and people around the world prepare for their respective special holidays, it is crucial to recognize that cybercrimes targeting national holidays pose a significant threat to our society. These deliberate acts of economic warfare aim to disrupt critical businesses and infrastructures during our festive moments, jeopardizing our way of life and economic stability.
In the face of this grave challenge, it is imperative that we remain steadfast in our determination to mitigate these threats and safeguard our economy. We can't afford to cringe in fear and give up our civilization to cybercriminals. Let us join forces to combat cybercrime and preserve the true essence of our cherished holidays!