DHS Warns That Irene Could Prompt Phishing Scams

Spammers Use Hurricane Warnings for Profit

Computerworld – As Hurricane Irene barrels toward the eastern seaboard, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is warning government agencies and private companies to be on the lookout for storm-related phishing attacks and other malicious cyberactivity. 

In an alert issued Thursday, the agency said that cybercriminals go into overdrive during highly publicized physical events such as hurricanes and earthquakes. 

"Both government agencies and private organizations could possibly become recipients of malicious activity, most commonly in the form of socially engineered spear-phishing emails," the alert from the DHS National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center said. 

"These emails may appear to originate from a reputable source, with the email subject closely aligned to the event and usually of interest to the recipient," it said. "Network administrators and general users should be aware of these attempts and avoid opening messages with attachments and/or subject lines related to physical events." 

Clicking on such emails could cause malware such as keyloggers and remote access tools to be downloaded on the user’s computer, it said. 

The alert is a sign of the growing attention that the DHS, which is responsible for protecting critical infrastructure targets in the U.S, and other security agencies and organizations have begun paying to phishing attacks.  

Over the past few years phishers have increasingly taken advantage of natural disasters and other highly publicized incidents to slip infected emails and other malware onto user desktops. 

The danger for enterprises is that infected computers could be used as entry points into corporate networks. The tactic has become one of the most commonly used methods used by cyberattackers to break through corporate security defenses. 

This information was written by Jaikumar Vijayan and was excerpted from Computerworld. I know this is different than what you’ll usually find on my site, but I think it’s important enough to be the exception.

Talk to you soon  ~Norma

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