top of page

Lessons from Hawaii Cyberattack on Vulnerable Residents

hawaii ebt card
hawaii ebt

Happy Friday my friend!

This week cyber criminals targeted Hawaii's most vulnerable residents with an attack on the state's nutritional and financial assistance programs.

Hundreds of people had their accounts emptied or hit with fraudulent purchases from mainland retailers, wiping out accounts, leaving them without the ability to buy food for themselves or their families. Despicable.

Unfortunately this is a growing trend that's been hitting states across the country and is only now making its way to the islands.

How does this happen?

The theft likely started with a local criminal using EBT card readers to steal account information. We did an article on this back in August, and it just goes to show how cyber heists often results from a chain of events, not a singular action.

The Takeaway

In order for a thief to steal EBT funds, they need the card number and pin number associated with the account. Sound familiar? It's the same way you may have used your bank card / ATM card to shop yourself.

Thieves can get this information and go on a shopping spree if they get their hands on this information and they're clever. Card skimming is when a criminal attaches an illegal scanning device to an ATM or credit card machine at a retail store and reads or "skims" your data as you make a purchase or use the machine.

But it doesn't end there. Social engineering tactics such as impersonating law enforcement, authority figures, tech support or even "imprisoned" relatives are better than ever. If they can get you to disclose your ATM (or EBT) card number and pin, game over.

Here are some tips to keep you safe from ATM (or EBT) theft:

  • If you receive a text, call or email asking for your card number, PIN or any personal info, do NOT provide it.

  • Keep your PIN secret. Do not share your PIN with anyone.

  • Change your PIN. If you've had an incident, changing it monthly is a good idea. There is no limit on the number of times you can change your PIN.

  • Check your account regularly for unauthorized charges. If you notice any, change your PIN immediately.

  • Cover the keypad when you enter your PIN on a machine.

  • When making a purchase, check to make sure there is nothing suspicious attached to the card swiper or keypad.

  • Never give your account information including PIN number to anyone over the phone.

  • DO NOT use ATMs that appear to have been altered. Tech tip: hacked ATM's may ask you to enter your PIN TWICE to complete a transaction.

  • NEVER write your PIN on your card, the card sleeve or on anything you keep with your card.

Let's do what we can to help keep our islands safe from bullies and criminals.

Stay safe out there.


New Friday Funnies

Q: Why did the cranberry sauce blush?

A: Because it saw the turkey dressing!


bottom of page