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Microsoft Phone Phishing Scam

Jul 14th, 2014 | Posted by | Filed under Indianapolis IT support


“Don’t talk to strangers!”

Every child in the country has probably heard this phrase at least half a dozen times, but for some reason we seem to forget about it when it is over the phone or online. Which is precisely how phone and internet phishing scams work. For example the Microsoft Support scam; where a person calls claiming to be with Microsoft and stating that they have been receiving errors from your machine. They then go on to request access to your machine to remedy the issue. Anyone who has worked with us at L5 is very familiar with the phrase “Let me hop on and take a look.” I know that everyone here says it a couple dozen times a day, but what happens when these phone scammers do the same thing. Many of these scams begin with some form of remote access; whether that be a connection, a Log me in connection, or any other of the hundreds of options, and they generally end in the loss of personal data. When I say personal data I mean of course your own personal data, as these scams are generally focused on individual home users, but what if they were to focus on a business rather than a home.

While the home computer holds much of our personal and family information that would be detrimental to credit scores and livelihoods, the business computer and network contains the personal information of employees, coworkers, and clients; things like billing information, payroll, taxes, contact information, passwords, you name it. As I mentioned losing things like that on a home computer could ruin your credit; imagine if all of that private and sensitive information from your business was lost, resulting in security violations, fines, stolen identities, and the loss of quite a bit of money as well as lasting damage to your business image and reputation.

These scams only work if you let them, which makes them a little easier to avoid than traditional malware that one might run into while browsing the web or downloading software. That being said, they are just as dangerous, and proper security still remains very important. More than likely you are implementing some kind of network security solution, hopefully more than one, to take care of attacks on your network from outside sources on the web. These work great for the common malware and if you do a very good job securing your machines and network then they’ll probably catch that the download that this scam is performing is malware. That being said; these scams often will have you log in with administrator privileges in order to make the changes needed, which then allows whoever is on the other end of the remote connection the ability to bypass many network security solutions and give themselves access to all sorts of data. Because of this ability the best way to protect yourself is with knowledge. Knowledge is power, and in this situation it is very easy to outsmart the scam. Generally just about any question that you ask will be met with uncertainty, but there are a few in particular that are extremely powerful.

–          “Which machine are you referring to?” Their “reports” should contain this information!!

–          “What operating system is the machine running?”  If they were planning a fix they would already know this!!

–          “What brand is the machine?” If they have error reports detailed enough to have your contact information, they should know if it’s a Dell or not!!

Any one of these questions will either scare the scammer off, or make it apparent that the information that they are giving you is false. That being said the best defense is still what your mother always told you “Don’t talk to strangers!” and quite simply hang up.

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