Authorities warn organizations to be on guard against hackers during Thanksgiving holiday

The FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on Monday warned organizations to be on guard against cyberthreats, particularly ransomware attacks, over the Thanksgiving holiday. 

In a joint alert, the agencies noted that while there were currently no “credible threats” identified, hackers had previously launched attacks during holiday weekends when workers are often at home and less likely to be paying close attention to network security. 

“Recent 2021 trends show malicious cyber actors launching serious and impactful ransomware attacks during holidays and weekends, including Independence Day and Mother’s Day weekends,” the alert said.

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CISA Director Jen Easterly said Monday that her agency would be available to provide assistance should any security incidents be reported. 

“While we are not currently aware of a specific threat, we know that threat actors don’t take holidays,” Easterly said in a statement Monday. “We will continue to provide timely and actionable information to help our industry and government partners stay secure and resilient during the holiday season. We urge all organizations to remain vigilant and report any cyber incidents to CISA or FBI.”  

Bryan Vorndran, assistant director of cyber at the FBI, urged organizations in a separate statement to report any threat activity to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. 

“The FBI is dedicated to combatting cyber-crimes targeting the American public and our private sector partners. Cyber criminals have historically viewed holidays as attractive times to strike,” Vorndran said. “We will continue to provide cyber threat information and share best safeguard practices.”

The ransomware attack that crippled Colonial Pipeline this year was discovered just ahead of Mother’s Day weekend, while meat producer JBS USA was hit by a separate attack over Memorial Day weekend. IT company Kaseya was hit by a ransomware attack, potentially compromising up to 1,500 other businesses, during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.  

The FBI and CISA previously put out an alert ahead of Labor Day weekend this year urging organizations to be on the lookout for cyberthreats, though the holiday ultimately saw no major cyberattacks on U.S. businesses.