One would think that in something as catastrophic as a natural disaster – people would unite and help one another in such a time of struggle and despair. With hundreds of charities and virtual donation ‘jars’ for aid and assistance on alert – hackers have proven to be even more heatless than ever before. During the devastating chaos and turmoil of Hurricane Harvey – perpetrators found a new method of attack: donation phishing. “Scammers have been using Hurricane Harvey-themed messages to trick people into opening phishing emails and links on social media sites, which can steal login information, infect machines with malware, or con victims out of money.” Fortune magazine reports. "Emails requesting donations from duplicitous charitable organizations commonly appear after major natural disasters." Unfortunately, amongst an already stressed public and an unpredictable environment – hackers have not slowed their velocity towards exploitation and greed. They are using the compassion and empathy of people wanting to donate money to help ones in dire need of assistance. "People all over the world quickly rushed to their social media accounts to find the best avenues to donate to victims, but these same avenues are ideal for scammers who try to convince victims to donate to their fraudulent Hurricane Harvey cause." Zack Allen, threat operations manager at ZeroFOX.
Luckily, there are precautions and procedures we can follow to decrease the risk of falling prey to these malicious grifters:
- Keep your software up to date; hackers often try to compromise devices running outdated software that has security holes.
- Be careful what you click; don't accept or open unsolicited content from untrusted sources.
- Be sure the organizations to which you're contributing money are legitimate.