hippo's n00b adventures

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Posts Tagged ‘security

Supposed “Microsoft tech support” – beware!

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Hey guys! So yesterday I received a call from a supposed “Windows 7 tech support” and told us that something was wrong with our computer and it needed to be fixed. The conversation roughly ran something like this:

Dude on the phone: [garble, paper shuffling] Hello, I’m calling from Windows 7 Tech Support. There’s something wrong with your computer-

Me: What? What do you mean?

Dude on the phone: There is something wrong with your computer.

Me: There’s nothing wrong with my computer.

Dude on the phone: You may not be aware of it, but your computer has actually generated several error messages on our servers, telling us there’s something wrong with your computer, and we’re here to fix it.

Me: Hm, ok. So what now?

Dude on the phone: If you would like to reboot your computer ma’am-

Me: (now at this point, I could smell something suspicious. Also, I was pretty lazy that day and didn’t want to actually do anything productive – it’s friggin’ uni break!) Uhh sorry I’m actually pretty busy right now, can you call later?

Dude on the phone: When would be a good time?

Me: 6pm. [hangs up]

I kinda felt guilty for cutting him off like that, but I did think it was suspicious. So I decided to research it – I Googled  “windows 7 phone call error”.  Turns out there were tons of forum posts and articles from people who received similar calls. The caller usually asked you to do several things, starting off with booting up your computer.  These scams are pretty nasty – they get you to go into a certain website and enter in a code to see the supposed “error messages” of the computer.  They will then ask you to purchase software to “fix” your computer.

But in reality you have been tricked into downloading malware – totally ruining the computer. In addition the caller (or whatever evil hacking group he’s working for) now can access your computer remotely AND has your credit card details.

This cybercrime is known as “phone phishing”.  Apparently it has been occurring for a while now, but incidents like this have become a lot more common in Australia recently.  This has been my first encounter with them.

What makes it so tricky is the fact that these callers are prepared. They’re armed with your name, and your phone number. If you ask them for a number, they’ll give it to you (even though it only leads to a voicemail box).  If you ask them who they are, and where they’re calling from, they’ll give you their name and say they’re from Australia or the UK or whatever country you happen to be in. They’ll work hard to gain your trust. And if you’re not aware of the scams, it’s can be quite believable.

But all in all:

  • Microsoft will not make unsolicited calls to households telling them that there’s something wrong with your computer.  Don’t believe it!
  • If you feel there’s something suspicious about the call (e.g. they tell you there’s something wrong with your computer, even though you know there isn’t, and you didn’t call tech support beforehand), it probably is. Hang up.
  • Tell your friends and family about it, even the tech-savvy people. They need to be aware of this.
So the dude actually called up again, about an hour later than I had proposed.  I left them to my mother, who I told the scam about. She knows how to handle these people.

Dude on the phone: Hello, I’m calling from Windows 7-

Mum: Sorry, not interested. [hangs up]

Useful Resources:
http://www.smartcompany.com.au/information-technology/20110629-microsoft-tech-support-phone-scam-escalates.html
http://www.crn.com/news/security/230800173/microsoft-warns-of-tech-support-phone-scam.htm?itc=refresh
http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/1200200
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/securitytipstalk/archive/2010/03/09/don-t-fall-for-phony-phone-tech-support.aspx

Written by Hippo

July 6, 2011 at 2:51 pm