Your Cybersecurity Risk Is Higher on July 4

Why risk increases around the holidays, and how to protect your business this Fourth of July.

Written by Kate Lake on July 3, 2024

Share This Article

While the Fourth of July is typically considered a day of celebration for those in the U.S., many don’t realize it’s also a period of heightened risk. In fact, this isn’t unique to the Fourth of July: holidays often see an uptick in cybersecurity threats. With the Fourth of July nearly upon us, let’s examine why this happens and how you can protect yourself and your business.

Why Do Security Risks Increase on Holidays? 

  1. Reduced staff: On holidays, businesses typically operate on a skeleton crew (or no crew at all). Hackers exploit this by increasing their activity on national holidays and other days on which businesses commonly offer time off (like the week between Christmas and New Years day). 
  2. Distracted users: The influx of holiday communications and transactions creates a fertile ground for phishing attempts. Often, cybercriminals mount holiday-themed phishing attacks to trick employees into revealing sensitive information. When people are celebrating, they tend to let their guard down and may be less likely to identify these as attacks. 
  3. Delayed and hindered response: With key IT staff unavailable, incident response times are usually longer. This lag gives cybercriminals more time to exploit vulnerabilities and extract valuable data before detection.

    In addition to delays, responses may also be hindered during times of celebration. In a 2021 study, 70% of security professionals said they had responded to a ransomware attack while intoxicated on a weekend or holiday.

In short, businesses face increased cybersecurity risk on the holidays due to a combination of reduced staff and distracted, celebrating users who are less likely to notice or respond to attacks effectively. 

How to Secure Your Business on a Holiday

  1. Monitor network activity: Network monitoring and threat detection tools can drastically reduce your risk on a holiday by bridging the visibility gap created by your IT team’s absence. 
  2. Educate employees: Before a holiday, prepare employees to be on high alert for phishing scams and other threats. Employees should be reminded to scrutinize email addresses, avoid clicking on suspicious links, and verify the authenticity of urgent requests. 
  3. Implement multi-factor authentication: MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring multiple forms of verification before granting access to sensitive data. This makes it significantly harder for cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access even if they manage to steal login credentials.
  4. Update and patch systems: Before you leave for a company holiday, ensure all software, systems, and applications are up to date with the latest security patches. Cybercriminals often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software, which makes timely updates crucial.
  5. Have a response plan in place: Develop a clear incident response plan (IRP) that outlines the steps to take in case of a security breach. Ensure that this plan is accessible and known to all relevant personnel (even those taking time off over the holiday).
    Further reading: Test your IRP with a tabletop exercise 
  6. Limit access to sensitive data: People with the highest levels of access are often the most targeted. Make sure you’re following the principle of least privilege (PLP): restrict access to sensitive data and critical systems to essential personnel only. This minimizes the risk of unauthorized access and potential data breaches. 
  7. Back up critical data: Businesses should regularly backup data with secure, offsite storage. If you haven’t been following backup best practices, now is a great time to start. Consider running a backup of critical systems and data before the Fourth (or any other holiday) arrives. In the event of a ransomware attack or data breach, having reliable backups can significantly reduce downtime and data loss. 

Protect Your Business with JumpCloud

The heightened risk of security attacks over the Fourth of July — and other holidays — underscores the importance of proactive security. This is particularly true for phishing, as it can be an easy way for hackers to infiltrate employees’ accounts while defenses are down. 

JumpCloud helps businesses combat the risks of phishing from anywhere with JumpCloud Go™, a phishing-resistant passwordless authentication method. By allowing employees to verify their identities using their trusted device, JumpCloud Go eliminates the need for employees to input their password, bypassing the majority of phishing threats. Learn more about JumpCloud Go™.

Kate Lake

Kate Lake is a Senior Content Writer at JumpCloud, where she writes about JumpCloud’s cloud directory platform and trends in IT, technology, and security. She holds a Bachelors in Linguistics from the University of Virginia and is driven by a lifelong passion for writing and learning. When she isn't writing for JumpCloud, Kate can be found traveling, exploring the outdoors, or quoting a sci-fi movie (often all at once).

Continue Learning with our Newsletter