In the world of emergency preparation, we often focus on stocking up on food, water, first-aid supplies, and other physical necessities.
However, it’s equally important to consider the digital threats that can arise during a crisis. In today’s increasingly interconnected world, cyber attacks can significantly impact individuals, communities, and even entire nations.
This article will explore why preparing for cyber attacks should be a crucial part of your emergency plan.
What is a Cyber Attack?
A cyber attack is a malicious act using the internet or other digital networks. These attacks can take many forms, from hacking into personal or corporate accounts, spreading viruses and malware, and launching large-scale attacks on critical infrastructure.
Cyber attackers may have a variety of motivations, including financial gain, political activism, or simple vandalism.
How Cyber Attacks Can Disrupt Emergencies
When an emergency strikes, it’s common for people to rely heavily on technology and digital communication. However, this increased dependence on technology also increases the risk of cyber attacks. For example:
Disruptions to critical infrastructure: Cyber attackers may target critical infrastructure, such as power grids, hospitals, or emergency response systems. This can lead to power outages, communication failures, or other disruptions, making it harder for emergency responders to do their jobs.
Interference with emergency communications: In an emergency, people may turn to social media, email, or other forms of digital communication to stay informed or get help.
However, cyber attackers can interfere with these channels, making it harder for people to get the information they need or to connect with loved ones.
In the aftermath of a disaster, people may be more vulnerable to financial fraud, such as phishing scams or fake fundraising campaigns. Cyber attackers may take advantage of this situation to steal sensitive information or defraud people trying to help.
How to Prepare for Cyber Attacks in Emergencies
So, what can you do to protect yourself and your community from cyber threats during an emergency? Here are some key steps you can take:
Stay current on the latest threats and best practices for staying safe online. Sign up for alerts from organizations like the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Use strong passwords
Ensure all your accounts have strong, unique passwords. Use a password manager to help you keep track of your login information.
Be cautious online
Be wary of unsolicited emails, links, or attachments, especially if they arrive during an emergency. Only click on something you’re sure about.
Back up your data
Store copies of important data, such as financial records or family photos, in a secure location. If your device is compromised, you won’t lose your important information.
Consider how you’ll stay connected during an emergency, and ensure you have backup plans. For example, keep a hard-wired telephone or a ham radio on hand if you can’t use your mobile device.
In conclusion, while preparing for physical threats in an emergency is essential, it’s equally important to consider the digital threats that can arise.
By staying informed, using strong passwords, being cautious online, backing up your data, and planning, you can help protect yourself and your community from cyber attacks during a crisis.