26 Aug 2011

Incoming storm could provide cover for hackers

As storm tides rise, spear phishers will come out to prey on unsuspecting computer users, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warns.

In an August 26 bulletin, the DHS National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center said hackers often take advantage of natural disasters like the recent Virginia earthquake and Hurricane Irene, fast approaching the U.S. East Coast. By sending emails that appear to come from trusted senders, enclosing attachments purportedly containing disaster-related information, hackers infiltrate computer security systems and plant keylogging programs and other malware on users' machines.

The NCCIC says they are monitoring reports provided by public and private entities related to this issue.

Attacks of this sort were common in the aftermath of last year's earthquake in Haiti and this year's earthquake and tsunami in Japan. In addition to infecting computers with malware, scammers commonly con users out of money by soliciting donations for disaster relief using web addresses that are similar to those of organizations like the Red Cross, according to MSNBC.

Computer users are advised to carefully check the spelling of all web addresses and to be skeptical about any attachments related to disaster preparedness.