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Tech Fallout from War in Ukraine

We had hoped the war in Ukraine would be ended by the time you read this. Everyone deserves to live in peace. However, we will need to continue dealing with a technology fallout from the cyberweapons that generate misinformation and fraud.

Here’s what we face:

Deeper, “Fakier” Fakes – We’ve been warning about fakers getting better at their trade, and “new and improved” fakes surfaced during the war in Ukraine. Enemy hackers posted a deep fake of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asking his citizens to lay down their weapons, and it could preview how tech-savvy hackers might intervene in elections. In Ukraine, the fake appeared on social media and briefly on TV. Although Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter pulled it, Russian social media “boosted” it. The tech-savvy Zelenskyy responded immediately to the fake, but we see this as a real fear of the damage synthetic videos can bring about.

Fake Charities for Ukraine – Every natural or manmade disaster brings scammers out of the woodwork. Even legitimate charities might keep a higher percentage of collections to cover “administrative expenses,” but all are appealing to your emotional need to help. Go back to basics. If you don’t recognize the email address or domain or if something looks out of line, delete the message. Don’t click on pop-ups. You can always go to websites like Charity Navigator to verify if a charity is real and how much of your donations go where you intend them.

Tax Return Preparation and Refunds – If you haven’t filed your tax returns yet and are getting really nervous about it, be careful about fraudulent or downright incompetent preparers. Just like charitable appeals, they can come in via email or pop-ups in your browser. And fraudulent tax return preparers can mimic the appearance of a legitimate organization with a spot-on graphic and website address that adds a number or adds or subtracts a letter. If you’re stressed, you may overlook it and wind up giving up vital information to cyberthieves. Also, be wary of any offers to give you an advance on your tax refund – if you’re getting one. They’ll ask you to sign away your refund before you can get any money in advance – and you might never see that money.

Delivery Notices – I get a lot of deliveries, and I’ve started to pay more attention to the notices I get to track a package. Fake notices are coming in by email and text message. I got one supposedly from UPS but couldn’t remember ordering something that they would deliver. So, I ran my mouse over the link without clicking, and sure enough, it was a fake.

Voice Mail Messages and File Sharing Requests by Email – When you get a message or request that requires you to click a link, be careful. You can open your system to malware. If someone really needs you, they’ll get back to you later. If they really know who you are, they likely have another way to get in touch with you.

If you get an email you’re not sure about, you can always forward it to us and ask us to check its legitimacy. You can also call – 973-433-6676 – or email us to help you set up email rules to handle suspected fraudulent messages or spam filters or to set up a security evaluation of your system.