Hurricane Harvey has been creating havoc for almost a week now. There have been at least 28 deaths related to the hurricane and tons of property damage.
The destruction from the historic storm is heartbreaking and there could be more to come. Now, cybercriminals are starting to pile on and cause more problems.
DHS warning about malicious cyber activity
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is warning everyone to watch out for "malicious cyber activity." Phishing attacks related to Hurricane Harvey are spreading across the U.S. at a rampant pace.
What's happening is, scammers are trying to capitalize on interest in the massive storm. DHS warns that you need to watch out for any email with the subject line, attachments, or hyperlinks related to Hurricane Harvey, even if it appears to come from a trusted source.
That's because fraudulent emails are being sent that contain links or attachments that direct victims to phishing or malware-infected websites. There are also emails requesting donations from phony charitable organizations. Unfortunately, this is common following major natural disasters like this.
DHS is encouraging everyone to use caution with emails dealing with Hurricane Harvey. Take the following preventative measures to protect yourself from phishing scams and malware campaigns:
Do your research before donating
We warned you earlier this week about numerous scams associated with this hurricane. You really need to choose the organization to which you're donating wisely so you don't get scammed. Click here to review the Federal Trade Commission's information on wise giving in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Don't forget to listen to our podcast discussing Hurricane Harvey charities.
Be cautious with links
Do not follow unsolicited web links in email messages dealing with Hurricane Harvey, it could be a phishing scam. Cybercriminals always take advantage of trending stories to try and find new victims. That's why you need to be able to recognize a phishing scam. Take our phishing IQ test to see if you can spot a fake email.
Do not disclose sensitive data
Unsuspecting people are mistakenly handing over sensitive information to scammers all too often. If you receive an unsolicited email, do not reply with personal information. You don't want it to fall into the hands of criminals.
Verify contact information
If you find an email in your inbox asking for donations for Hurricane Harvey victims, be sure to check into the organization before donating. Always 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.
Have strong security software
Make sure you're using strong antivirus software on all of your gadgets. And keep them up-to-date for the best protection. This is the best way to keep your device from being infected with malware.