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Cyberterrorism emergency preparedness

Learn more preparing for cyberterrorism and how it will impact you.

Like terrorists who threaten us physically, cyberterrorists threaten our online world. However, unlike physical threats, cyber threats are often difficult to identify and comprehend. Hackers can break into vulnerable computers and erase entire systems in seconds, or steal confidential information with real-world consequences. What's more, cyberterrorists can be based anywhere in the world where they have an Internet connection. They don't need to be in the U.S. to cause tremendous damage.

Utilities, transportation, and other services are particularly vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Compromised individually owned devices like laptops, tablets, and smartphones can spread computer viruses, even without your knowledge, putting your personal information at risk. While the Internet brings the world to our fingertips, this increasing interconnectedness brings increased danger from theft, fraud, and abuse.

Learn more about cyberterrorism in our video below:

How to prepare for a cyber attack

Only connect to the Internet over secure, password-protected networks.

Do not click on links or pop-ups, open attachments, or respond to emails from strangers.

Do not respond to online requests for personally identifiable information such as bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, or similar data.

Limit who you share information with by reviewing privacy settings on your social media accounts.

Password protect all devices that connect to the Internet and user accounts.

Do not use the same password twice; choose a password that means something to you and you only; use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols to create your passwords; and change your passwords on a regular basis.

What to do during a cyber attack

Immediate Actions

  • Check to make sure the software on all of your systems is up-to-date.
  • Run a scan to make sure your system is not infected or acting suspiciously.
  • If you find a problem, disconnect your device from the Internet and perform a full system restore.

At Home

  • Disconnect your device(s) from the Internet. By removing the Internet connection, you prevent an attacker or virus from being able to access your computer and perform tasks such as locating personal data, manipulating or deleting files, or using your device to attack others.
  • If you have anti-virus software installed on your computer, update the virus definitions if possible, and perform a manual scan of your entire system.
  • Install all of the appropriate software patches to fix known vulnerabilities.

At Work

  • If you have access to an IT department, contact them immediately. The sooner they can investigate and clean your computer, the less damage to your computer and other computers on the network.
  • If you believe you might have revealed sensitive information about your organization, report it to the appropriate people within the organization, including network administrators. They can be alert for any suspicious or unusual activity.

At a Public Place

Immediately inform someone in charge, like a manager, librarian, or teacher.