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UK Consumers Fear Hackers Will Disrupt their Christmas

Over half (59%) of consumers are worried that staff shortages over Christmas will mean their data and key IT systems are more at risk from hackers, according to new research from Huntsman Security.

The cybersecurity firm commissioned TNS to poll 2000 Brits aged 16 to 64.

It found widespread concerns that organizations would take longer to identify and fix issues over the upcoming holiday period, when most firms run with a skeleton staff.

The concerns varied from bank account-raiding cyber-criminals (36%), to e-commerce outages preventing last minute festive shopping (17%), and even cyber-related transport outages leading to delays (16%).

The latter isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds, given that hackers have already targeted transport systems in the US – most notably the ransomware attack on the San Francisco “Muni” railway network.

The ability to identify and deal with incidents quickly and transparently will increasingly become a competitive differentiator for firms, with a third of respondents claiming they’d only stay with a company that did not inform them of a major security breach if there was no evidence of negligence.

A further 14% said it would be that company’s last chance; and 12% would only stay with the company if they had no other alternative.

“Just because businesses and security teams are operating at a reduced capacity, it doesn’t mean that attackers will be. Indeed, with less than 3% of the UK workforce reported as working on Christmas Day in previous years, this is a prime time for organized attackers to take advantage,” said Piers Wilson, head of product management at Huntsman Security.

“Organizations across industries from retail to travel to banking must make sure that their security teams have the support they need to identify and act on threats over the seasonal period.”

The research chimes with a separate study from AlienVault which claimed nearly a third of IT professionals will be too busy to take time off this Christmas – leading to potential security shortcomings.

Nearly half (46%) said they’d allow friends and bosses to bypass security controls or IT processes at work, in part because of their high workload.

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