When a natural disaster or great tragedy occurs such as a massive hurricane or the Boston bombing, your immediate reaction may be to want to help those who are suffering during these circumstances by sending monetary donations. Unfortunately, cybercriminals know this and take advantage of people’s good will through phishing scams and the creation of fraudulent websites that ask for monetary relief. According to a recent cyber intel advisory, there has been a spike in the number of registered domains containing words such as “claims,” “compensation,” “lawyers,” “relief,” and “funds” in the wake of the formation of Hurricane Florence, which suggests there are many new fraudulent websites being created targeting people who want to donate to disaster relief efforts. To best protect your technology from being exposed to malware, here are a few guidelines to follow in the wake of a disaster:
- Highly question any individual plea for financial assistance. This includes solicitations on social media, direct emails and crowd funding websites. Even if it appears to come from a trusted source, always double check with the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information website or National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster website for guidance.
- Beware of emails containing links that claim to lead to a website with “more information” or photos. Although the photos and information may be relevant, it is extremely important to double check if it is a trusted website before clicking on the link.
- A good way to check to see if a website is legitimate is to scroll over the URL. If the URL says something different than where you are trying to go, you know it’s a fraudulent website. For example, you may receive an email that says donate here for hurricane disaster relief efforts at www.madeupdomain.org, but when you scroll over the hyperlink it would say www.madeupdomain.com.
- Never even open a spam email, let alone click on the attachments or links inside, and never reply to an email with or give any personal information to a website that you are not 100% positive is legitimate.
You should always be following safe email practices, but in the wake of disastrous events it is especially important to be on the lookout for phishing and malware schemes since they routinely spike under these circumstances. Once your technology is compromised, it is expensive to fix, so don’t put yourself in that position. If you have any questions about how to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of a malware or phishing attack, don’t hesitate to give us a call here at OptfinITy at 703-790-0400 or visit us on our website at www.optfinity.com.