Happy holidays! As we increasingly turn to the internet for corporate gift-buying, online shopping, and working remotely during this holiday season, be sure to protect yourself and your employees from the onslaught of email-related scams. Specifically, the FBI reports that there has been a 4,671% increase in gift card related email scams in 2020. (Yes... that's over four thousand percent!). Here's what you need to know to keep your company and your team protected:

1. Be on the Lookout for Phony Email Names

Bad actors have learned to impersonate managers' or executives' emails to trick employees into purchasing gift cards under false pretenses. Scammers often use a fake email display name that closely matches an individual's name. Once the gift cards have been purchased, they are out of your control and you're stuck holding the bill.

2. Deploy A Policy

Scammers' latest targets are small businesses between 1-50 employees. This is due to the fact that oftentimes, smaller businesses may not have the proper controls, policies, and procedures in place. It is important to take the time to create a policy that is mandatory for all employees to learn about what to look for to save you time and money in the long run.

3Assign an Employee

Designate an employee to handle all gift cards and online purchases for the company which will decrease the vulnerability of individuals within your company being asked to make an online purchase by a cyber-criminal.

4. Educate Certain Employees

Although cybercriminals often impersonate managers and CEO's, they tend to focus on entry-level people within a business who may be unsuspecting victims. Likewise, criminals target those who have access to important financial information and employee data so it's important to educate all employees but especially entry-level individuals.

5. Understand Your Vulnerability Factor

While no industry is off-limits by these scammers, there are a few that are on their "watch list." These include small businesses in automotive, financial services, retail, manufacturing, and entertainment/media.

6. Take a High-Level View

It's crucial that organizations take a high-level view to make cybersecurity a priority before an attack occurs. This means making sure you have a security plan in place to protect against email, social media, mobile apps, and cloud applications. Many small businesses have a basic plan in place, but many do not include malware and bypass legacy security technology which is a technology moat against email fraud attacks.

Stay safe this holiday season and have a healthy, peaceful, and successful New Year.