We Are Microsoft, Trust Us

homelandSecurityLately, here in Oklahoma there has been a rash of social engineering attacks on computers. Social engineering is just a fancy way of saying SCAM. People will call you saying they are from Microsoft, Apple, a virus protection company (Norton, McAfee…) or your Internet provider, and say that your computer has been detected as causing problems and it needs to be checked or fixed.

How the Scam Works

As mentioned above, someone calls using a name that is “reputable”. You trust that name and thus trust them. They hope you don’t question how you can be sure they are from who they purport to be. These are scam artists that are very well versed in convincing you to do what you know not to do. They are no different than the fake roofers who come to town and go door to door after a tornado or hail storm trying to sell you a roof you don’t need or will never show up, even after they’ve gotten a deposit from you.

Besides gaining your trust, they then add scare tactics to confuse you. They’ll tell you that you have a large number of viruses or that you could be in violation of the law or of the peril your bank account is in.

Remember, these scamers are professional. They will convince you that the people with whom you have been getting your computer work done have not done their job and they(the scammers) will fix it.

If you do have problems with your computer and your Internet provider is going to stop your Internet they will contact you by paper mail. This often happens if your computer already has been compromised and a rogue program is sending information from your computer to outsiders.

Once the scamers get on your PC they quickly plant a back door on your computer. A back door is a program that will let them use your computer any time without your permission. Often, people soon regret their decision to open up their PC to these people and shutdown the PC or the Internet. However, by the time the PC is off the Internet, the back door is in the computer and the damage is done.

If you don’t terminate the call and Internet connection right away then they try to get more from you. They’ll try getting money from you for fake service, get your credit card info, drivers license number, etc… They will try to get anything that they can use or sell in the criminal underground.

What Is the Damage?

Besides getting money and your identity, they can now use your computer to store stolen goods, use to serve web pages that trap other Internet users for them and their tools for breaking into yet more computers.

You may not notice any changes to your computer. The more accomplished criminals will try to keep your computer running so you don’t get it fixed. Often though the computer will be slower. Other symptoms may or may not appear, such as the Internet Security you have may not update or parts of it will become disabled. The Internet connection may seem not to work or be intermittent. When you go to a page on the Internet another page will be displayed.

For those who read this blog regularly I’m sorry for the repeat of the topic. However we are getting more of these calls. So it bears repeating DON’T GIVE UP CONTROL OF YOUR PC to anyone you don’t know.

If you get such a call just hang up. If not delay them. Turning off your PC at this time won’t hurt your computer and if you do have a problem it will keep it from getting worse. Another good delay that should be done is to call someone you trust after you turn off your PC. Most computer repair people will gladly take your call to advise you.