NJOHSP Cautions ‘Tis the Season to Stay Alert
HAMILTON, NJ – The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and its cybersecurity division, the New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell, are cautioning the public to stay alert for signs of physical and cyber threats targeting individuals, organizations and businesses across the state during the upcoming holiday season.
Public Gatherings Remain Attractive Targets
With loosened COVID-19 restrictions, crowds of all sizes are expected at indoor and outdoor gatherings, retail stores and various holiday-themed events, making them attractive targets for those who wish to do harm.
Although there are no known credible threats to New Jersey at this time, NJOHSP’s “See Something, Say Something” messaging, which promotes reporting of suspicious activity, remains critical to thwarting potential incidents.
“Many of us enjoy activities associated with the holidays, whether shopping, attending services or spending time with loved ones, unfortunately there are those looking to take advantage and cause harm,” said NJOHSP Director Laurie R. Doran. “We need to remain vigilant and focused on our surroundings and be mindful of the best practices that keep us all safe. I urge everyone to do their part and alert the proper authorities to any activity that appears out of the ordinary.”
Faith-based communities are reminded that houses of worship remain potential targets for extremists. Religious leaders preparing services for holiday observances and other functions can find guidance on protecting their congregations and facilities on NJOHSP’s Interfaith web page, njohsp.gov/interfaith.
NJOHSP offers numerous resources to help identify and report terrorism-related suspicious activity on its website, including a list of 15 signs of terrorist-related suspicious activity, details about the New Jersey Suspicious Activity Reporting System and various posters and brochures that inform communities about the need to recognize and report these types of behavior at njohsp.gov/njsars.
Anyone who observes suspicious activity should immediately contact local law enforcement or NJOHSP’s Counterterrorism Watch Desk at 1-866-4-SAFE-NJ (1-866-472-3365) or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Avoid Falling Victim to Cybercrime
E-commerce consumers looking to make their holiday shopping haul online face significant risk of cyber attacks, most commonly in the form of ransomware. Door-busting deals can be very attractive, especially with this year’s rising inflation, but devices and accounts that lack strong security settings continue to be an open invitation to cyber criminals.
Unsecured Wi-Fi networks, gift card scams, phishing schemes, compromised websites and spoofed emails often result in data theft and large financial losses. In 2021, imposter scams cost consumers approximately $2.8 billion and, of that amount, online shopping accounted for $392 million in losses, according to the National Council on Identity Theft Protections.
As consumer spending increases, so does cybercrime, explains NJOHSP Acting Deputy Director and NJCCIC Director Michael Geraghty.
“Awareness and vigilance go a long way in preventing cyber attacks,” Geraghty said. “Being wary of links and attachments in emails, taking precautions with social media ads, avoiding public computers and public Wi-Fi and enabling multi-factor authentication wherever possible, are effective tools in helping ensure a more secure holiday shopping experience.”
With supply chain issues prompting shipment and delivery delays, scams that try to dupe nervous shoppers into opening links or attachments infected with malware are also a major area of concern. One such scam involves bad actors misleading shoppers into thinking they can generate gift cards on their computer but instead, the unsuspecting victim is installing crypto mining software.
The NJCCIC’s updated annual holiday report, Stay Cyber Safe This Holiday Season, lists common attack vectors and recommendations to combat threats this holiday season: cyber.nj.gov/informational-report/stay-cyber-safe-this-holiday-season.
Users can report cyber incidents to the NJCCIC via the cyber incident report form at cyber.nj.gov/report. Signing up for an NJCCIC membership at cyber.nj.gov/members comes at no cost and provides alerts and advisories, bulletins, training notifications and other updates on the latest cyber activity and best practices.