GREENSBORO, N.C. — Governor Roy Cooper is urging the public to be vigilant of phishing emails, ransomware attacks, and other cyberthreats, following recent world events. The warning comes following a recent alert by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security of possible retaliation, though there is no specific, credible threat right now.
"The best way we can keep our state's cyber systems safe and help prevent crippling attacks is to pay attention," said Gov. Cooper. "When in doubt, do not click. Cyber criminals have many reasons for trying to beat our systems, and I encourage everyone to do their part and be sure they understand online security practices."
Large groups like businesses and government agencies are generally at greater risk for ransomware attacks. A new year is a good time to remind employees of cybersecurity best practices and refresh controls and protocols in place in the event of a cyberattack.
Being alert to possible threats means:
- Be suspicious of unsolicited emails. Whether it's a request for donations or just information about the people in your family or agency, cybercriminals can use details you provide in potential scams.
- Follow up, if necessary. Even if you know and trust the sender, contact them by phone or in person if an email seems out of the ordinary, like a request for money or sensitive information.
- Think before you click. Links and attachments in suspicious emails could compromise your online security and that of your organization. If there's any doubt, check with the sender first.
- 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 (e.g., .net instead of .com). Visit and download information only from trusted sources. When in doubt, avoid a website until you can confirm its legitimacy, especially if you're on a mobile device, where it's often more difficult to tell.
- Protect your personal information. Avoid sending sensitive, personal identifiable information (e.g., Social Security numbers) or passwords in email – regardless of the recipient – unless you use encryption.
- Keep software up to date. Make sure your computer and mobile devices are running the latest version of operating systems and anti-virus software and that you are using the latest version of your web browser.