Amidst Hurricanes and Recovery, Stay Vigilant for Scams and Hacks

Hurricane Dorian is moving onto mainland U.S. and bringing with it the first major hurricane threat of the season to Florida and the South Atlantic Seaboard. There are many important steps to be prepared. In addition to taking all the important steps to prepare for the hurricane, however, it is also essential to watch for any attempts to use the storm for financial scams or technology intrusions. For example, a networked back-up system located in different physical regions is an essential part of data security. If your organization does not have that in place, then purchase back-up media and store the back-ups in water-proof containers that are physically safe. In storms, natural disasters, and national emergencies, most people rally together and help their friends, neighbors, and strangers in need of assistance. But there are always risks from those looking to take advantage of the altruism that emerges during times of need.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has issued its annual warning regarding “malicious cyber activity targeting disaster victims and potential donors.”

Fraudulent emails commonly appear after major natural disasters and often contain links or attachments that direct users to malicious websites. Users should exercise caution in handling any email with a hurricane-related subject line, attachments, or hyperlinks. In addition, users should be wary of social media pleas, texts, or door-to-door solicitations relating to severe weather events.

There are many types of scams for which to watch:

  • unlicensed contractors and scammers may appear with promises of quick repairs, clean-up, and debris removal
  • phone calls asking to wire money or send gift cards to friends and co-workers stranded because of the storm
  • fees for FEMA or other government agencies – government agencies never charge up-front fees
  • charitable solicitations from organizations that don’t really exist (these organizations can help verify the charity:  BBB Wise Giving AllianceCharity NavigatorCharityWatch, and GuideStar)
  • being targeted through social media disclosures about empty homes and businesses
  • replacement technology that is preloaded with malicious software for future ransomware and other attacks

This is just a sampling. There are many other ways that the unscrupulous can take advantage of the chaos created by the storm. Before the storm hits, take a few moments to consider the steps needed to protect yourself and your organization from the human threats that follow in the wake of the storm.

Even more resources- Federal Hurricane and Threat Links

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