Governor Roy Cooper has proclaimed October as Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Following the damage and destruction Hurricane Ian left across North Carolina and the Southeast last week, state officials are warning all North Carolinians to be on higher alert for online scams and threats.
“This is a timely reminder that cybercriminals are out there waiting to take advantage of people in crisis and those who want to help them,” Governor Cooper said Tuesday, just days after the storm brought heavy rainfall, strong winds and power outages across the state.
Posing as official representatives of disaster aid organizations or charities, scammers frequently use social engineering techniques, like phishing emails, texts, and phone calls, to solicit personal and financial information and to gain access to devices and networks that can often hold sensitive data.
For help finding legitimate ways to support charities or contribute to disaster relief, check out tips from the Attorney General’s Office at ncdoj.gov/protecting-consumers/charity/.
Cyberattacks happen every day and North Carolinians should take steps to protect themselves. To spot and avoid possible cyberthreats:
- Do not respond to unsolicited emails requesting money or seeking information about the people in your family or at your job.
- If a message seems out of the ordinary – like a request for money or sensitive information – but you think you should respond, follow up by phone or in person with the sender.
- Avoid clicking links or attachments in suspicious emails and text messages. When in doubt, check with the sender first by phone or in person.
- Pay attention to web and email addresses. Malicious websites can look identical to trusted sites, but the URL or email address might use a different spelling or domain.
- Avoid sending sensitive, personally identifiable information (such as your date of birth, Social Security Number, account numbers, etc.) or passwords via email, text, or chat – regardless of the recipient. If you must share this information, send using encrypted email.
- Keep software up to date. Make sure your devices are running the latest version of operating systems, software and web browsers.
The Governor’s warning comes at the start of Cybersecurity Awareness Month in North Carolina, proclaimed by Governor Cooper to encourage all North Carolinians to make smart decisions when they go online.
“From health care and work to recreation and education, the internet is a critical tool for almost everything we do,” Governor Cooper said. “That’s why it’s so important that North Carolinians educate ourselves about cyberthreats and learn how to stay safe and avoid problems online.”
As part of this year’s campaign theme, See Yourself in Cyber, the N.C. Department of Information Technology will offer cybersecurity tips and best practices on social media using #BeCyberSmart and #CyberSecureNC throughout the month. Information is also posted at it.nc.gov/CyberSecureNC.
“No one is immune from cybercrime, but education and awareness are the best ways to avoid becoming a victim,” said State Chief Information Officer and NCDIT Secretary James Weaver, who oversees efforts to protect the state’s computer networks and data. “Making North Carolina safer involves increasing personal levels of cyber awareness – knowing not to click links on suspicious emails, recognizing the signs of online scams and protecting sensitive and confidential information.”
Read the proclamation.