December 07, 2023 Blogs 8 min read

You take a vacation, but cyber risks don't: how to keep your portfolio protected this holiday season


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The holidays have finally arrived. This season brings not just good tidings, but also a surge in cyber incidents. While it's tempting to switch off and relax, it's crucial to remain cautious about cyber risks and how they can affect your portfolio. Just as a thief might target an unattended house when the owners are away, cyber criminals view the holiday season as an opportune time to strike, due to employees working remotely and reduced staff.

In this blog, we'll examine the heightened vulnerability to cyber attacks during the holidays and the essential role that continuous monitoring plays in safeguarding your portfolio when key personnel take time off.

Why is the holiday season the perfect time for hackers to strike?

As the holidays approach, offering a perfect chance to relax and detach from work-related thoughts, cyber criminals are aware of this opportunity. It is crucial to ensure that your portfolio remains protected as attackers often exploit weekends and public holidays to launch their attacks on unsuspecting companies. By targeting these specific times, they take advantage of the relaxed atmosphere and increased distractions, making it even more important to stay alert and proactive in protecting against potential threats. A single ransomware attack can have devastating financial and reputational consequences - even leading to bankruptcy. Some of the most significant cyber attacks in history have taken place during holiday periods. Here are just a few:

  • Arnold Clark: This cyber attack on one of the country’s top car dealerships occurred on Christmas Eve, and completely shut down the company’s internal systems.

  • The Guardian: A few days before Christmas, The Guardian Media Group, parent company of the Guardian newspaper, was the victim of a ransomware attack that locked staff out of the office and shut down key systems.

  • British Library: This ransomware attack took place on Halloween, and affected systems for over a month, with operational costs skyrocketing and sensitive customer data allegedly being sold on the dark web

  • NHS cyber attack: This infamous attack occurred in early August. The attack affected hundreds of NHS organisations, causing widespread disruption to patient care.
  • The Colonial Pipeline attack: This attack unfolded in early May on the Friday preceding Memorial Day weekend. The attack forced the pipeline to shut down for several days and caused shortages in the southeastern US.

These are just a few examples of the many cyber attacks that have occurred in recent years, and research shows that so far in 2023 there have been over 5 billion compromised records; with employees away or accessing unsecured public Wi-Fi over holiday periods, and companies operating at reduced capacity, the already skyrocketing risk becomes even more heightened. In fact, during these holidays, most companies in the UK, EU, and US operate at less than 50% capacity, leaving ample room for error.

This emphasises the importance of implementing robust security measures like continuous monitoring, which ensure that your portfolio companies can anticipate and mitigate potential vulnerabilities and attacks, as cybercriminals are quick to exploit lowered defences. By enforcing ongoing risk monitoring across their portfolio companies, portfolio managers can ensure that potential risks within their portfolios can be identified and addressed before the worst happens.

The power of continuous risk monitoring

As mentioned earlier, maintaining vigilance and implementing robust risk management measures during leisure time are crucial. However, in today’s fast-changing digital environment, relying solely on point-in-time cyber risk snapshot is no longer sufficient to fully grasp a company’s risk posture or implement adequate security measures. With new threats emerging daily, there is a significant risk that changes in an organisation’s infrastructure and its cyber risk profile may go unnoticed between periodic security audits. This lack of real-time risk visibility can compromise a business’s cyber resilience, potentially leading to severe operational disruptions, data breaches and financial losses.

This is precisely why continuous monitoring is the key to enjoying peace of mind during the holidays. Think of it as a virtual security guard that keeps an eye on your digital assets on your behalf. Ongoing risk posture monitoring involves the constant surveillance and analysis of the most critical externally visible cyber vulnerabilities that may cause harm to a business. By introducing continuous monitoring as part of your portfolio risk management processes and providing alerts and actionable risk intelligence to your portfolio organisations, you can help them take prompt action to mitigate these threats and strengthen their overall risk profile.

The benefits of continuous monitoring for your portfolio companies

Continuous vulnerability assessment is essential for helping you to gain visibility and comprehension of the cyber risks facing your portfolio; this benefits your portfolio organisations, and by extension this benefits you too. By enabling portfolio companies to manage risks proactively, continuous monitoring improves portfolio performance, reduces claims and losses, and preempts regulatory pressure.

It also lies at the core of a wide range of proactive risk management measures that should be incorporated by your portfolio companies in order to withstand the ever-expanding threat landscape. It encompasses proactive defence strategies, resource allocation optimisation, business continuity maintenance, ESG compliance facilitation, streamlined third-party risk management, and regulatory adherence.

Here's a closer look at the key benefits:

Continuous attack surface monitoring - Continuous monitoring enhances attack surface management (ASM) and improves overall security of your portfolio organisations by continuously discovering their external IT assets, assessing risks and prioritising them to enable high-impact remediation efforts.

Smarter resource allocation - Smarter resource allocation in the context of building strong security systems can be challenging without proper monitoring and tracking. Continuous monitoring plays a vital role in facilitating this, giving your portfolio organisations insights into their risk exposure. This enables swift resolution of the most critical vulnerabilities.

Maintained business continuity - With the shift to remote work settings and increased reliance on digital technologies, maintaining business continuity has never been more important. Real-time visibility into potential vulnerabilities provided by continuous monitoring enables proactive identification and mitigation of digital perils, allowing timely response measures to be implemented.

Easier ESG compliance - Ongoing assessment of an organisation’s risk profile also assists your portfolio companies in achieving Environmental, Social and Governmental (ESG) compliance by improving their cyber posture. Proactive identification and mitigation of cyber vulnerabilities ensures an organisation’s data protection, privacy and resilience. This demonstrates a commitment to responsible governance and safeguarding stakeholders’ interests.

Effective third party risk management - Continuous monitoring simplifies third-party risk management for your portfolio companies by identifying and addressing potential vulnerabilities in the supply chain. By regularly monitoring their service providers, your portfolio organisations can streamline the process and mitigate the risk of cyber threats and data breaches.

During the holidays, it's crucial to maintain vigilance through continuous monitoring to accurately identify, assess, and mitigate cyber risks across different industries. By implementing this practice, you gain valuable insights into your portfolio organisations’ risk exposure, enabling them with proactive identification of vulnerabilities and therefore supporting them in improving their cyber posture.

How KYND provides peace of mind to you and your portfolio

Cyber threats don't take time off, and by embracing continuous monitoring across your portfolios, you can ensure that your portfolio companies remain resilient and well-prepared, even when cyber criminals think they’re vulnerable. This proactive approach keeps you a step ahead of cyber threats, protecting your portfolios throughout the year. KYND offers unparalleled continuous portfolio risk monitoring which scans for both new and existing threats across your portfolio companies, keeping them constantly informed and alert. In case of a vulnerability, our team of cyber experts will promptly reach out to your portfolio company directly, providing them with actionable intelligence on how to patch that specific security vulnerability. KYND has a proven track record of being able to quickly spot vulnerabilities. For example, with the Fortinet zero day vulnerability, we informed all of our partners’ customers as it happened, allowing them to patch before hackers had the chance to ransack their sensitive data as they did with others.

With KYND, you can confidently navigate the cybersecurity landscape, knowing that we always keep a close watch on your portfolio. Our vigilant monitoring ensures that you and your portfolio companies stay informed and protected against emerging threats. If you would like to find out more about how KYND can become your reliable risk management partner, safeguarding your portfolio companies and providing you with peace of mind, get in touch with our friendly experts.

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