Natural disasters bring out the best in us. We spring into action, helping wherever we can. It also brings out scammers who try to trick people into giving away their money. The United States Computer Emergency Response Team (US-CERT) has released some helpful guidelines on avoiding these potential scams. Before you click links on Hurricane Matthew (or any other event) related email please consider the following advisory:
US-CERT warns users to remain vigilant for malicious cyber activity seeking to capitalize on interest in Hurricane Matthew. Users are advised to exercise caution in handling any email with subject line, attachments, or hyperlinks related to Hurricane Matthew, even if it appears to originate from a trusted source. Fraudulent emails will often contain links or attachments that direct users to phishing or malware-infected websites. Emails requesting donations from deceptive charitable organizations commonly appear after major natural disasters.
US-CERT encourages users and administrators to use caution when encountering these types of email messages and take the following preventative measures to protect themselves from phishing scams and malware campaigns:
- Do not follow unsolicited web links in email messages.
- Use caution when opening email attachments. Refer to the Using Caution with Email Attachments Cyber Security Tip for more information on safely handling email attachments.
- Keep antivirus and other computer software up-to-date.
- Refer to the Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks Cyber Security Tip for more information on social engineering attacks.
- Review the Federal Trade Commission information on Charity Scams.
- Verify the legitimacy of any email solicitation by contacting the organization directly through a trusted contact number. You can find trusted contact information for many charities on the BBB National Charity Report Index.