Calgary Stampede Shenanigans

Calgary Stampede is upon us and it is a time of connections, celebrations and possibly a lot of drinking. The sun is out, people are gathering in line for pancakes early in the morning, and partying until wee hours. And here I am putting a dark cloud over it all with more security awareness. No, not the physical kind relating to watching what is in your drink (although that is always a good idea anyways). Cybercriminals often take advantage of large city wide events to launch sophisticated attacks on IT systems, exploiting the reduced staff, lower vigilance, and higher online traffic. In fact, according to a report by IBM, the average cost of a data breach during a city wide holiday is 21% higher than the rest of the year.

Some of the common IT vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cybercriminals during this fun and careless Stampede are:

  • Phishing and social engineering: These are techniques that use deceptive emails, messages, or websites to trick users into revealing sensitive information or installing malicious software. Cybercriminals often use Calgary Stampede themes or offers to lure unsuspecting victims, such as fake tickets, vouchers, donations, or prizes.
  • Ransomware and malware: These are malicious software that can encrypt, delete, or steal data from infected devices or networks. Cybercriminals often use phishing or social engineering to deliver ransomware or malware, or exploit unpatched vulnerabilities in software or hardware. Ransomware can also be spread through removable media, such as USB drives, that are exchanged over a pancake breakfast.
  • Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks: These are attacks that overwhelm a website or a network with a large amount of traffic, rendering it slow or inaccessible. Cybercriminals often launch DDoS attacks to disrupt online services, such as e-commerce, banking, or entertainment, or to extort money from the victims.
  • Insider threats: These are threats that originate from within an organization, such as disgruntled employees, contractors, or partners. Insider threats can use their access or privileges to sabotage, steal, or leak data or systems. Cybercriminals can also recruit or blackmail insiders to carry out their attacks. Insider threats can be more difficult to detect and prevent, especially during Calgary Stampede when staff turnover, absenteeism, or workload may be higher.
 

To mitigate the IT vulnerabilities and risks during Calgary Stampede, businesses and organizations should adopt the following best practices:

  • Train and educate your staff: Since Stampede started, if you have not trained your staff of what to be aware of, please widely communicate what they should be on the lookout for during these next 10 days. Your staff are your first line of defense against cyberattacks.
  • Update and backup your systems: You should ensure that your systems are updated with the latest security patches and antivirus software, and that your data are backed up regularly and securely.
  • Monitor and secure your network: You should monitor your network traffic and activity for any signs of intrusion, anomaly, or breach.
  • Prepare and respond to incidents: You should have an incident response plan that outlines the roles, responsibilities, and procedures for handling a cyberattack or a data breach. But if you don’t, well…hate to sell here, but contact your trusted provider such as Shing Digital to help you if an incident occurs.
 

Calgary Stampede can be a great opportunity for businesses and organizations to boost their sales, reputation, and customer loyalty. It is also simply a blast! However, it can also be a time of increased IT vulnerabilities and risks. Therefore, it is important for businesses and organizations to take proactive measures to protect their IT systems and data during these celebrations, and to be prepared and responsive in case of a cyberattack or a data breach. By doing so, they can enjoy the Calgary Stampede without compromising their security and privacy.